But before we go…….

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)
4. Skydive
5. Take a surf lesson ( I don’t swim)
6. Molokai
7. Hana
8. Lanai
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
…we’ll see….

wish us luck!

Fight night


It’s pretty easy to catch a BJ Penn pay per view fight at any number of sports bars in Oahu. MMA is huge here. It seemed a no brainer that some place would feature the Pacquiao/Cotto fight. Pacquiao is a Filipino National Treasure and outside of the Philippines I’ve never lived around so many Filipinos! I called every place that people suggested I call with zero luck. No one was showing it. Our house isn’t equipped with a digital box so we couldn’t purchase it to watch at home.

At work, K asked a friend on the crew if they knew who might be showing the fight. He put it out on the walkie and K said suggestions came pouring in. As an aside, I wish this applied to all of life’s issues.

One of the suggestions was Giovanni Pastrami in Waikiki. And thank goodness! They were showing the fight and you could make reservations. Of course K and I ended up paying cover charges for four people just so that we could have a table…but it was worth it! Giovanni Pastrami is awesome. The pizza wasn’t so good but then again, it isn’t called Giovanni Pizza.

The fight was so good. And the place was filled with Pacquaio fans. We whooped and hollered and banged on the table which was so much fun. It wouldn’t have been if we were Cotto fans or if we’d had to watch it in Puerto Rico instead of HI….

Holy Ma’o!


I had had such a great experience volunteering at He’eia Fishpond for Ma’o Organic Farm that I was eager to get involved again and learn more about what they do. Wei told me about Give Day on the farm and invited me to come out and volunteer. I had never driven to the west side of the island. I’d heard alot of things about the issues at Waianae Beach and I was very curious to see what it was like. Before Give Day I hadn’t had any reason to venture over to that side.


It took an hour to drive there. Easily the furthest and longest I’d ever driven on the island. A few minutes from the Farm, I kept thinking of the word festive. I could imagine that I was driving to a family friend’s house for dinner and this was a neighborhood I might have, in another life, grown up in.

I like Waianae. It feels like people really live there–maybe that generations have lived there. It’s distinctly more ‘real’ than any other part of Oahu that I’ve experienced.

If I heard a chorus driving through Waianae, Ma’o was the melody. There were over a hundred volunteers that day from eight different countries. We were welcomed warmly and although I came alone, I didn’t feel it.


They let us get our hands dirty. Some of us weeding the sprawling beds, some clearing rocks from new fields, and so on. The manual labor was very satisfying but the greatest part of the day for me was hearing from their youth staff and learning about their programs.

A large portion of the Ma’o staff is made up of interns. To be an intern one has to be between 17 and 24 years old, a Waianae resident, and Native Hawaiian. Interns put in 20 hour work weeks and in exchange their tuition at a local college is covered and they’re provided a decent sized stipend. Our tour guide said that for many of the interns, they were the first in their family to attend college.

There’s a big emphasis on empowering youth and making them a part of every aspect of running the farm. Part of Give Day was put aside for different groups of students to share the projects they have chosen to implement as part of a larger program. For example: campaigning against land fills in Waianae or helping schools to grow their own organic community gardens.

Most of what I’m sharing is just skimming the surface of what I learned that day. It feels as if they are bursting with new ideas and trying to make each of them a reality

I’ve spent my whole adult life helping to build communities. What Gary and Kukui do over at Ma’o is hugely inspiring to me. Not only is their approach smart, it is characterized by an almost tangible zeal. I love the farm. I’m so pleased to have been part of it even for a day.


A fork, a spoon, a clear night….

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!?

Count me in.


A Roy

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We had dinner with the fantastic Lums tonight at Roy’s in Hawaii Kai.   It was good food and great company.  I’d heard people rave about Roy’s and frankly expected it to be disappointing.  But the service was very good and the food was satisfying. I can hardly sit up to write this.  It was so good that we closed the place down with talk story.

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Just kidding.  Hawaii unlike NY does sleep.

Interesting factlette from Wing tek: Punahou alumns not only include Barack Obama (leader of the free world) but Steve Case co founder of AOL and Pierre Omidyar founder of Ebay as well.  Amazing!

Soulstice

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Steven, aka ESKAE , aka Sarah’s boyfriend does a party at thirtyninehotel called Soul Clap every last Friday of the month.  FINALLY for the first time K and I went.  It was much fun.  Particularly because I got to hang out with my most favorite people here in Hawaii and we got to DANCE.  I can’t believe it took us this long to go.  Great venue, great music.  I wanna go again!

The Churma House

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The other day, a poet named Brenda invited me out to meet some Filipina writers at a special event welcoming a visiting artist.

As K and I were about to head over, Brenda sent a message that she couldn’t come but that I should still go.  As we drove up Kamehameha I thought we were looking for a performance venue and I was half expecting a converted plantation house to emerge from the lush greenery.  But what I read on the evite as The Churma House was actually the Churma home.  Silly.

I knew one person there– a writer named Amalia.  She explained that most of them had come together a couple of years ago  to do a production of The Vagina Monologues which benefited the Filipina Rural Project.  All of them were writers.  A number of them were librarians which I thought was very cool.   Rose, the host, owns a book distribution company called Kalamansi Books which exclusively sells titles from the Philippines here in Hawaii.  Their house was lovely–serene and warm.

We had to leave before the reading started but Amalia said we should eat and get to know people.  We stayed as long as we could.  The pork adobo was delicious.

Uncle!

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We’re fast approaching our Summer break which means heading back to NY for a little while.  It’s exciting.  Summer is my least favorite season in Manhattan but as K would say ‘it’ll do pig’.  I’m looking forward to being able to go anywhere without having to worry about driving or getting a ride.  Translation I’m most looking forward to seeing all my favorite friends at all our favorite places.  High on my list is a nice long session with Mary at Marlow: good wine, pate, chocolate cake with sea salt.  I just gulped when I wrote that.

K’s friend and coworker Eric wrapped up his job here the other day and they planned a very festive going away dinner for him at Uncle Bo’s in Waikiki.  Lots of people turned out because this Eric dude is a very likable fellow. My friend Seth lives nearby in Chinatown so I gave him a call and asked if he wanted to meet us for a drink.

Seth and I are old friends from NY.  We used to eat and drink a whole lot when we first met 11 years ago.  It was liberating and very nostalgic to spontaneously get together just to drink and talk.  Because of my mobility issues I’ve been here in Oahu for 8 months and have only seen him 3 times.

Uncle Bo’s is quite nice.  K and I unfortunately didn’t eat any of the food because we thought it was only drinks.  On the way, we stopped for McDonald’s drive thru.

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Uncle Bo’s set down a bunch of complimentary dishes in front of us that looked very tasty but at the time made me feel a little sick because of my hastily devoured Big Mac.  I hope we get a chance to go back. The spicy tuna looked good.

My favorite thing at Uncle Bo’s was the espresso infused vodka.  Deeeeelicious.  It didn’t even taste like vodka–very smooth and fragrant.  Seth was explaining to me why it was special but I wasn’t registering what he was telling me.

K and I brought our new flip cameras with us.  After midnight, most of the people at the dinner had either gone home or headed to a party at Aloha Tower.  K, Eric, Seth, and I were the only ones left polishing off drinks and talking.  K and I had brought our new flip cameras and we filmed silly little drunk bits of conversation.

I realized watching the footage later that when I’m drunk I can be a little bit of a bully.  I insisted Eric give me a profound thought to wrap up his time here in Hawaii.  Poor Eric.  When pressed he came up with: don’t eat the yellow snow.

Thems Yummy

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Last night we went over to K’s friend’s house for dinner.  They had a bunch of people over to their place in Lanikai.  It was our first time to see the inside of a Lanikai house.  K and I were marveling at how behind a modest facade such a spacious oasis could exist.  It was a beautiful space.  While we ate our chicken a little distance away from everyone, I told K that I would find it hard living in such a big place.  That when I pictured home, it was an apartment not a house.  K was like, ‘you think it’s because we’re New Yorkers?’ I pondered that.  Is it more natural to want lots of room or to be contained by a smaller place?  It seems funny to prefer less space but I do.

For dessert they made mini ice cream sandwiches:  m&m dark chocolate cookies with mint ice cream.  They have a mini dog named Nunu.  While we were watching tv, Nunu climbed on top of me and gave me and K tiny dog kisses which totally brought back memories of life with a dog.  Dogs make life better.