We have four weeks left here. There’s so much that we’re trying to do before we leave. The last few weeks have been invigorating. K and I want to leave something behind that we can continue to contribute to even after we leave and alot of the pieces have been falling into place, but I’ll leave that for another post.
Four weeks left. Almost 2 years behind us. We’re returning to a place that you rarely see green, you don’t wake up looking at the sky, and mochi is not in abundant supply. So while we were having lunch the other day I brought a notebook with me and we started our Hawaii wish list: all the things that I hope we get to do before we leave. Some of these things we want to do together. Some only one of us wants to do (ie skydiving (eg not me)).
1. Volcanos (Big Island)
2. Black sand beaches (Big Island)
3. Swim with dolphins in the wild (with a life vest)
5. Take a surf lesson ( I don’t swim)
9. Stay on Kauai’s North Shore
10. Old Lahaina Luau 11. Merrie Monarch
These are sort of touristy things. Hopefully more specific ideas will occur to me.
In four weeks we’re back home. I find myself trying to take stock of all kinds of things:
what we want to do before we leave here;
what our new home might look like;
what kind of job I’ll get
Ken got me a Canon for Christmas. I love it. I don’t know how to use it but I love it. At night after he falls asleep I read lens reviews and blog posts about exposure. When my eyes are too tired to read anymore I go to sleep very satisfied that given the opportunity, I’ll be able to take a perfect picture of the Mokes by moonlight. But it never work out that way. By the time the shot is in front of me I panic and switch to full auto mode, ending up with lots of blur or sometimes just pitch blackness.
Last night in Chinatown was a great chance to take action photos in low light. Wing Tek had a private dragon dance at his office followed by dinner, then wonderful cacophonous firecrackers and lions. I took 500 pictures. Most of them are crap but what I liked was that under normal circumstances I would have moved farther away from the noise after taking a peek at the action. But with my camera I wanted to get closer and closer.
Food is important out here. Of course it’s important everywhere but there’s nothing as comforting or satisfying as plate lunch. Post plate lunch, it appears as if Hawaii’s foodie community is energized and ready for change.
K and I met a group of people coordinating a traveling supper club. It’s underground but very robust in its attendance. Their focus: to spark dialogue among the people that shape Hawaiian cuisine. When they asked us to host an event at our house we were happy to oblige.
It was an experience having 50+ strangers in our house for a sit down dinner. But it went surprisingly without a hitch. I remember thinking as I watched a handful of chefs scurrying around our kitchen that it hadn’t properly been used by us until then.
We invited two of our neighbors up to join the dinner. It was a great chance to get to know them. One of the things that I remember from that evening had nothing to do with food. Bethany and Chad are surf addicts. We talked about swimming, water, and my fear of both. They promised that they could teach me how to surf. Which I long to try but see no easy path to. Chad said that one of the things they could do was take me surfing in water that I could stand up in. What!?
It’s been eons since the Hawaii International Film Festival. Thankfully I was able to see more films than I did last year. Two films that stood out from what I saw were Tze Chun’s Children of Invention and Daniel Lee’s Precious.
Along with bringing boat loads of great videos and films HIff also brought friends from far away. My friend Suzi from way back was here with her lovely film Dear Lemon Lima. Suzi and I had fallen out of touch years ago but fell back into an easy rapport. Maybe it has to do with getting older, but I wondered a few times while we were together, how did we lose touch? It took being thousands of miles from where we met to reconnect.
Cinnamon’s in Kailua was the breakfast place of choice for me and whoever would join me during HIFF. It’s currently my favorite: crab eggs benedict and guava chiffon pancakes.
Another funny thing was that The Chinatown Film Project that Karin and I began at MOCA three years ago had it’s premiere outside of NY at HIFF. Karin couldn’t make it at the last minute so I stepped in to ‘represent’ it. It was the first time I’d seen the result of our efforts. I really didn’t know what to expect. But as we watched Wayne Wang’s contribution to the project, I found myself getting emotional. His scenes of Chinatown swept by like waves. The soundtrack and the images made me feel a longing for NYC Chinatown that I never thought I’d feel. I was really proud to be there and to have had something to do with it.
K and I went to HIFF’s opening night reception at the Halekulani a few nights ago. We were late and missed all the remarks and the big check from Mayor Mufi but we weren’t late for the food…which was yummy: pretty char siu wraps, kahuku shrimp raviolis, and poke-tinis.
Tonight we’re going to see my long ago friend Suzi’s film Dear Lemon Lima. I’m excited to see it and her. It’s been eons.
We went to the Splendor of China festival at the Blaisdell last week. We bumped into Wing Tek there. He was doing a shift at a genealogy booth for an organization that assists Hawaiian Chinese in tracing their roots back to China. K was surprised to find the little town his father was from on a map. Mainly because when he had visited, the townspeople had said they were too small to be on a map.
There were shiny good luck necklaces, purple jade bracelets, ceramic grating dishes, a dim sum booth, and an impressive prosperity table. I asked K if he thought everything on it was real and did he think I could touch it to see. Without a word he pointed at the ‘VIP’ rope encircling the table.
Last week K and I were judges for Showdown in Chinatown, a monthly 48 hour film shootout in Honolulu. They’re partnering with HIFF and MOCA’s Chinatown Film Project to feature this month’s winner as part of an outdoor screening during the film festival next month. The event was great–well organized and well attended. K and I really loved the film that won.
Afterwards we went with Sarah and Anderson to visit DJ ESKAE who was doing a six hour set at a club called Soho. The theme was Neon and it was PACKED. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have believed that neon could be such a big draw. I had flashes of being 17 again and partying on Long Island. It was hot, sweaty, and the music was really hard not to dance to.
On a more wholesome note, I started my hula classes last week. So far, it feels like transferring into a school after the year has already started. It’s hard meeting new people when there’s no context for my being there. I haven’t made any friends yet but I love my teacher. She’s a beautiful wacky spirit that dances like an angel. She invited us all to join the more advanced Monday class if we were so inclined. My friend Michelle is in that class and it would be more comfortable for me to know someone but I’m thinking maybe being comfortable isn’t always necessary.
My teacher gave me a pa’u skirt to use for class. Everyone has their own. I tried looking online for a store and one of the first entries was ‘Where to get a pa’u skirt: make it!” Eventually I found an ebay vendor who sold really pretty ones though I think they might be kind of fancy.
This is the dance/song we’re learning. Though obviously this is a professional and I think maybe I’m doing the baby version.
Back home Mary is getting ready for her S/S 2010 Fashion Week presentation for Slow and Steady Wins the Race. I’ve been trying to work with her from afar. I don’t know how useful I’ve been but it keeps me from feeling so far away. She has a great roster of contributors to The Still Life:
Last year I believed that I video taped a ghost . This year ghosts are not really an issue but having distance from it has made me curious about what really happened. I was talking to Julie about it and she suggested that I have a session with this woman that does ‘clearings’. I think I’d like to ask her about my tape.
Finally I’m trying a new recipe tonight. Kat introduced me to the recipe for Zuni Chicken which has become something I cook almost every other week. I asked her to recommend another recipe just to have more than one chicken dish in my repertoire. She didn’t have one but she steered me towards one of her favorites: Mark Bittman. Here’s how the Butter Chicken (as we’re calling it) turned out:
K started work this week.
And with that, I’m left with a finite number of days to make the most of my time in this beautiful place and be useful in the process.
In two weeks, I start hula classes. Everyone back home laughs when I mention this. Our idea of hula is such a bastardization of how beautiful and intense it is. I’ve come to understand that it’s key to understanding Hawaiian culture and history. It’s funny because I get very serious and righteous when people laugh even though I don’t really know anything yet. I’m going to Michelle’s teacher and I’m excited about it even though it feels intimidating. There’s a list of things I have to bring on the first day including a three ring binder. I feel like buying a trapper keeper.
In other news Beth came over for lunch today. I told her the other day that our blogs are like sisters. She’s kindred.
Last Sunday we caught the last two hours of the Made in Hawaii Festival. We’d been moving all weekend and almost forgot it was happening. Our new landlady sent us an email reminding us about the festival. We dashed over there before it closed down and walked through the whole thing.
It was pretty much how I imagined it would be. If there was more time and a little less people I really would have liked to explore each booth. There were so many great things like pidgin t-shirts, roasting pan cozies, straw hats, koa wood jewelry boxes, Hawaiian christmas ornaments, local fruit jams, and on and on.
At first I was dashing around grabbing every business card that I could. And then I realized there’s probably a roster of vendors on their site. Even though we won’t be here for next year’s festival, I figure I’ll look up individual companies and explore their wares over the course of this year. There were lots of people there and it seemed like a lot of the popular vendors had sold out. Like the Made in Hawaii Foods mochi strawberries.
It’s a really great event. We came home with a clay coaster that absorbs water ‘magically’, a Hawaiian crest key chain, and poha jam.