Monday, April 25, 2011

Rest? HAH!

Or was it?

I figure since it's been so long, I'll do a double post. This will get everything up to date on what's going on with me over here while sticking to my new schedule and still not having everything in overwhelmingly large chunks.

So after I left the girls on Sunday, I headed home to big things. Like new apartment things. Check it out!

Hawaiian Gothic

So that's cool. And I actually have a bed to sleep on now!


That's right, I'm a proud new owner of a big inflatable bed. It's a Hawaiian transplant classic!

The back fence of our lanai has huge snails.

And our complex has scary huge moths.

And look! we learned how to set absinthe on fire. It makes it so delicious.

And mysterious.

Well, that should be pretty good for now. It should give you a pretty good idea of what's going on over on this rock. Look for next week's post on stuff! Like, actual stuff. We're filling the apartment. No more Otter Pop movie parties on the floor with pillows. It's almost like we're actual adults with jobs.


Exploration and Conquest

Lots to write about today, which seems fitting, considering it's been a while since last we met. I think I'm also thinking of more a regular schedule for this thing. I think I'll have a better idea come time for tomorrow's, but I think I'll shoot for Sunday night before I go to sleep. That's Monday morning for all you West Coast kids. At any rate, without further ado, let's do the damn thing!

One thing about living in Hawaii is that a lot of us out here are transplants from somewhere on the Mainland. While this is great for having a new culture and vibe to learn from, it does tend to separate you from the lion's share of your friends and family. For some of us, lion's are quite greedy. Such is my case; most of the people I've really come to care about (read: my readership) is at least 2,500 miles away from me. That kind of distance really tends to cut down on dinner parties.

The other side of this coin is that everybody wants to visit Hawaii. Such is our story tonight. My dear friend, the lovely Hanna Song, had purchased, along with her darling coworker, Lauren, had come across an absolutely killer deal for a Hawaiian vacation. Tickets were purchased before I got the job over here, but my forthcoming residence in the North Pacific added a prime shenanigans angle. Oh my.

So Hanna and Lauren picked me up from Ewa on Friday after I got off work. Before leaving, however, Hanna's foreknowledge of Hawaiian cuisine takes over. She must have da ono kine grindz! So we stop in at Genki for some bomb sushi boating. I think we were both out for 10 bucks or less, stuffed the brim. I love that place. In true Hawaiian sushi fashion, it's not crazy fancy, just crazy good. Hanna was a big fan of poke. I think she's actually Hawaiian. After Genki, we popped into Foodland for some apple bananas, salt, and limes. And then 7-11 for some sushi. Remember that, you'll see them again.

Fast forward to the hotel room. Tequila shots are lined up in service of debauchery and all manner of unsavory behavior. Limes and salt laying in wait. ¡Salud!

From there, bars were visited, drinks were had, oceans were traipsed through sans vêtements. You get the idea. And there was the rain. Quite a bit. At 1AM. Walking back from 7-11. But that's an island rainstorm for you. You learn to love them.

With the breaking dawn came a new set of possibilities, which were promptly ignored. Except for Lauren, who woke up at 7 to go to Pearl Harbor (Go Lauren!). Hanna and I chose option B: ignore possibilities and sleep in until 10. Time to Waikiki!

If you've never been to Hawaii, it's hard to communicate how great the beaches are. Waikiki is deservedly famous. It's calm, cool, and very protected. And the sun is perfect. It's really solid for beach naps. I also recommend beach naps whenever possible. It rights the brain.

From Waikiki, we drove east through Hawaii Kay to Hanuama Bay.

See those people down there? That's where I would soon be snorkeling. It was so incredible. We were swimming over gorgeous corals while whole schools of fish floated right by us, exhibiting a proper dose of Hawaiian ainokea spirit. For at least 10 or 15 minutes, we just swam with the same sea turtle and watched him pick at the coral.

After Hanauma, we headed east then north along the coast, driving through Waimanalo and up towards Kailua.

The sand at Kailua is so fine, it's almost like a polish. The precise and matured grains feel like cool, crystallized clouds beneath your feet. And being on the windward side, the greenery just blankets the area. As you can see, Hawaiian moonrises are lovely.

Of course, I needed to give love for the Tripod.

We're going to be a thing. Just you wait.

With Sunday morning upon us and the rental car a fond, faint memory, we set off to Manoa Falls.

The Team:

Hanna: Heavy Weapons

Lauren: Espionage

The Tool:

The Side-Quest:

The Jungle:

Wow, that covered a lot. So yeah, we were supposed to take bus number 2 to the... you know what, I'm over it. It took a little longer than it could have, but sometimes that happens. No harm, no foul. We were able to find Chinatown (awesomeness!) and walk through the Manoa neighborhood (pretty cool place!). I call that a win, and if you disagree I will fight you. Strictly fisticuffs.

But it was all worth it! Once the road started to get eaten by trees, we knew we were close.

But we were even closer to shave ice. Delicious surprise! I went with the mango, guava, and passionfruit. In true Hawaiian fashion, I had to get the snow cap. It's when they put sweetened condensed milk over the top of the ice at the end. It lends a luxurious creaminess. So ono!

Our bellies full, we sauntered on through what appeared to be the jungle from Lost.

I was beginning to worry about the Smoke Monster.

And then we came upon it.

I know the iPhone camera doesn't fully capture it, but it's so cool. The forest just has a nature that can't be conveyed without immersion. The sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. So yeah, you should experience that. I highly recommend it. Shoes not required.

100% Hobbit.

We also got to meet Joe and Pepi up there. They were awesome. Joe asked me to take a picture of him and his son, and then from there we just talked story for a while. He told me I was akamai. I thought was pretty rad.

On the way back down the trail, it started to rain. Real Hawaiian rain. While Hawaiian rain isn't usually too bad, it can be a little inconvenient for traveling. In another piece of awesome, a couple from Aiea who were talking with up at the Falls, pulled over to give us a ride. Hella! They would save us like a half mile walk in the rain to our bus stop. Like I've said before, aloha isn't just a bumper sticker here. Sometimes people are rad.

So they (in my excitement I totally forgot their names or to get a picture, just know that they are carved completely from crystallized awesome) drove us to the bus stop, all protected in a shiny truck. And then they just kept going. And asking us where our hotel in Waikiki was. And drove us all the way back. When we offered cash for gas, it was sent back. He just said it seemed like the right thing to do because we were nice people. Have heart, cynics (read: Nathan); the human race has hope yet.

A wonderful weekend in the books, rest was in order.


Monday, April 11, 2011


So my schedule has been kinda all over the place ever since I got here. The combination of telling your boss that you can work whenever he needs you and living on said boss' couch leads in large part to your itinerary being heavily controlled by external parties. And while I don't particularly abhor this, I am eagerly awaiting word on when I can terminate this particular situation (more information to come this week). All that being said, it is so nice to just chill the fuck out sometimes.

As it happens, today was my Friday. I only get one day off tomorrow, but I get Saturday and Sunday off, so I'll take it. Anyhow, after work Gabe and Leandra pick me up and we go to Foodland to get the accoutrements for linguine alla carbonara. Tits! Also, we get beer. Gordon Biersch Spring sampler. Thanks, Maika'i card membership!

For those that don't know, I love carbonara. Love it. It's definitely not the healthiest thing in the world, but I'll be damned if it isn't devilishly delicious, in an almost naughty and shameful way. And it couldn't be easier. First, start boiling up some linguine. Then, you want to dice up some bacon and start rendering it down with a little bit of nice olive oil. The more legit Italian way is to use guanciale(cured pork jowls) or pancetta(cured pork belly), but bacon makes a more than adequate understudy. While the bacon and noodles are cooking, scramble up an egg or two in a bowl (I used three for one pound of pasta) and add shredded Parmesan cheese into it. I use a lot. Yes, real parmigiano reggiano is preferable if you have it, but we're already using bacon, so can please shut that argument up? Thanks. Also, crack a good bit of black pepper into that mix. And make sure you have that done and your bacon crisped and rendered before the noodles are al dente. It's paramount.

With the noodles cooked, drain them (don't rinse. EVER) and add them to the pan with your bacon and olive oil. Keeping the burner off, toss the noodles in the oil enough to get them evenly coated. Then add your egg mixture and toss it in with the noodles. Keep tossing and incorporating. The residual heat in the noodles will softly cook the egg and give the a cheese of creamy sauce vehicle to spread its wonder. Also, bacon is bacon is bacon. Eat this with a nice salad, which Leandra conveniently prepared, and pair with delicious beer. Or wine, if you're in the mood.

Forgive the horrible shot framing, I didn't really give a fuck at the time.

With such a lovely meal, it was nice to sit down and enjoy. Some Bob's Burgers was watched. And a little Family Guy. Lulz were had.

After a little post-meal guitar noodling (pictures of Hawaiitar Mk.I to follow) I'm lounging on the lanai. Having an addict cigarette (Marlboro Gold, it was the best they had at 7-11) really reminds me I need to find a place on this island to buy Shermans. I experience the cigarette in a way the "smoker" world is too nicotine-enslaved to truly appreciate.

I am a match smoker.

It may not sound like a big difference. You may think "Nathan, how you light the cigarette doesn't matter. It's all about getting it lit!" And while I will cede the point about a cigarette fully blossoming after the application of flame, I submit an explication of the application's implications on the enjoyment of said tobacco.

Match smokers take time. The whole Bic culture is just about quickest possible delivery of nicotine to the bloodstream. It's so formulaic. So barbaric. So completely geared to instant gratification. Where's the joy in that? How are you supposed to fully enjoy something if you've had no time to let your mind arouse itself to the idea? Where's the foreplay? Where's the anticipation? I love sex, but I don't just barge right into it. Give yourself time to light that match, smell the slight sulfurous tinge in the nostrils, let the flame settle, and purposefully take those first few prep drags to set that cherry. Then, pull in a deep, smooth ocean of smoke. Let meandering plumes of it trail out your nose. Feel it dance past your lips. The chase had made it all the more special.

Now I suppose my being a cigar smoker has influenced this notion quite a bit, but is that really a bad thing? If you choose to smoke, and I certainly don't make any moral or social judgments either way, just make sure you really smoke it. Fully savor it. If it's gonna kill you, make sure you milked it for all it's worth. For that matter, just go ahead and do that with everything you love. Be fully present. Fully accepting. Fully in contact. Synchronized. Even for stuff you don't like. If you have to do it, it might as well be worth it. Time spent vacant and distant is really only stolen from you.

Until next time, ohana. Aloha!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Things I've seen out here

This iPhone is pretty handy for snapping photos of little things right as they come up. Here's a sampling of what I've encountered.

This is right after Gabe picked me up from the airport. We're driving north towards Kaneohe. I was astounded by the beauty.

This is, as you can most likely gather, a Spam musubi. It is an island favorite, just not one of mine. The love of Spam here continues to confuse me.

This is the view from our lanai (balcony). We face roughly northwest toward the mountains, which you can't see through the clouds here. Our place, once we move into it, will face east toward Waikiki and the rising sun.

This is poke. We've already discussed my love affair with it.

We were at lunch in Haleiwa. It was a beautiful day. I was stunned.

Sunset over Waimea Bay from the same day. The cables do not, as it might appear, extend out into the ocean. They're running into the ground for support.

Graffiti in the bathroom at Ewa Beach park. Spelling isn't a strong suit of Hawaiians. Also, chicken?

I saw this cloud while waiting for the bus. It's shaped like Oahu. I thought it was pretty cool.

This is a Russian couple I rode on the bus with. I couldn't tell if they were tourists or immigrants. I like his pink backpack. It had flowers on the front.

That's it for now. Aloha!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I live in Hawaii now

I realize that I haven't posted to this blog in quite a while. I regret that, but I feel that I now have a reason to be writing a blog. I moved to Oahu. I live on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere in the North Pacific. That's gotta be worth something. The following is taken from a short note I wrote to my aunt. It seems to do a good job of expressing some of what I've been experiencing. More detail and fleshing out of themes, ideas, people, places, and things are certainly to follow, but for now this shall suffice as a first foray. So without further ado:

The Aloha State is WONDERFUL! I love it here.

I've been out to North Shore a few times. We went swimming at a place called Waimea Bay. The water is fantastic: usually around 75 degrees and crystal clear. The waves break wonderfully, you can ride them into shore without any kind of board. And the sand is perfectly smooth and soft under you. There's also a really cool sheer face rock formation that you can rock climb on. I brought my shoes last time and it was so invigorating. Volcanic rock under your fingers, ocean spray filling your nose, and tropical sun on your back. There are worse ways to live.

The food: SO GOOOOOOD.
I have never tasted pineapples so sweet in my life. I was sucking the rind after I cleaned them because it was just that succulent and tasty. And they're like a dollar a pound. Also, the best papaya I've ever had is like a dollar thirty a pound. And they have special bananas. They call them apple bananas. They're shorter than normal bananas, but have a much sweeter and slightly tangy flesh that's less mealy and more consistently textured than a normal banana. And then there's poke (poe-kay). It's cubes of raw ahi dressed in soy, sesame, some chili, kukui nut, and all kinds of good stuff. I like mine with avocado. And 7-11 serves sushi here. And it's fresh. And like a dollar fifty. Basically, food's expensive if you want to eat lots of processed foods like a haole (whitey) that lives in Minnesota, but if you eat like you live on a tropical island with super fertile volcanic soil and bountiful fisheries you'll do fine. And be healthier too. Just stay away from the mayo.

As for the other stuff, I work with a pretty cool group of folks, mostly a bunch of girls. It's really interesting to see how the different cultures and ethnicities respond when you help them in a copy shop. Japanese are über thankful and respectful, Filipinos are pretty salty but have a lovable nature once you figure out their rhetorical aesthetic, Polynesians are really soft-spoken and sincere, allowing for some boisterous Samoans at times, and haoles are haoles the world around, but North Shore surfer types from Haleiwa have a certain sense of kama'aina (local) credibility and easygoing to them that's pretty cool.

We finally found a place to live and will hopefully be moving in around the 23rd. I'm really looking forward to moving off my boss' couch.

Until next time, my big ohana (family).