Monday, December 31, 2012

End of the Year Clip Show (Well, Sort Of)

Happy New Year!  I am currently spending the final hours of 2012 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, with every intention to go to bed by 10:30 pm (if not earlier).  As is tradition (i.e. I did this last year), I am doing a wrap-up of the past year.  I used the same categories as last year:  work, school, church, men, and "other", as well as one brand-new category:  "food", because there was a lot that was related to food.  Don't judge me.  Even if there hadn't been so much stress-eating, there's a lot of food to experience here.

I moved to Hawaii in June, so much of my description of the year 2012 can be divided neatly into "pre-Hawaii" and "Hawaii" categories.  Also, get ready for a lot of links, because I talked about a lot of these things in other posts.  It's going to be like a year-end clip show, blog-style!

  • Pre-Hawaii:  The first six months of the year I had three different jobs:  preschool substitute teacher, high-school teacher, and receptionist.  Though none were super well-paying or required much use of my degree, I enjoyed things about and learned things from each of them.
  • Hawaii:  As you all know, I work as a real forensic anthropologist now!  Not only do I get to actually put my very expensive Master's degree to use, but I also feel like I'm doing important and good-karma-inducing things.  Of course, there are downsides, such as all of the hoops one must go through for training and competency-certification (to include a giant hoop that I very much dislike called "being at the mercy of other people to get my work done"), but overall, work is grand.  It's basically the only good thing I've got going for me in Hawaii.  Also, this job pays a lot, which is good, because Hawaii is expensive, and now I can afford to pay someone to do my (extremely complicated) 2012 taxes for me.
Pretty much the entire reason I do my job.
  • Pre-Hawaii:  I went through the Temple for the first time on February 18, 2012.  It was a very special day that I was able to share with very special people.  I spent the first six months of 2012 enjoying my last six months in the Longfellow Park 2nd Ward in Cambridge, MA.  Oh, how I miss that building and all of those people!  I also ended my tenure as ward choir director by conducting the first piece I directed in that choir, "How Can I Keep From Singing?"
  • Hawaii:  Moved from a beautiful historic building that (sort of) survived an epic fire and is right down the street from where Ben Affleck lives to an institute classroom building adjacent to the University of Hawaii.  I miss being in a real chapel, and there's a TON of culture-shock that comes with going to church in Hawaii (ohmygosh the cheek kissing), but I'm starting to adjust.  Sort of.  I got called to be choir director again, so I can carve out something resembling a niche here, just in time for me to leave in six months. 
Townies go to the Temple!
  • Pre-Hawaii:  So much promise in the beginning.  I had two pretty awesome grad-school-interview Events in early 2012.  Lots of free food, touring, and making professors fall in love with my professionalism, charm, and ability to look awesome in suits.  And then they all rejected me.  It's nobody's fault but of those who distribute the funds.  In mid-April came the realization that I would require yet another "gap year."  At least this one is being spent far more productively than the last!
  • Hawaii:  I'm pretty optimistic now.  I re-took the GRE in September, and rocked it, scoring higher than my previous (very respectable, yet nearly expired) scores.  I applied to seven different schools, and I already have interviews at two of them!  I have two schools tied for first place on my hierarchy  but I'm not going to jinx myself by sharing that hierarchy yet.
  • Pre-Hawaii:  Oh, man.  And by "man," I mean one very specific man.  The first half of 2012 was a striking contrast to any other part of any other year in the relationship department.  I won't tell the story of my first kiss here because 1) it's personal, and 2) apparently I tell it wrong and it doesn't sound at all romantic, but 2012 was the year of many absolutely wonderful first-relationship-related things*.  Naturally I had to screw it all up by moving to Hawaii.  Boy, did that suck a lot.  As much as the breaking up part sucked, losing a person would have been much worse, so thankfully former-beau (beau-emeritus?)** and I are still good friends.
  • Hawaii:  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Let's face it, men don't go to Hawaii to date the pasty brunettes in the argyle sweaters and librarian glasses.  On my part, there have been a few brief attractions, but all have been quickly squelched as the men generally turn out to be [word I won't type because my former Seminary teacher reads this blog].
  • Pre-Hawaii:  I ate Indian food for the first time and wondered why I hadn't been eating it my whole life.  I wrapped up my quest to find the most amazing burger in Boston (for now, at least).  I learned the only proper and acceptable way to make toast (in a frying pan with salted butter, fyi).
  • Hawaii:  I tried Spam for the first time; it's not bad, as long as it's over rice and wrapped in seaweed.  I resigned myself to the fact that burgers in Hawaii will never compare to Boston burgers (with one or two exceptions) and instead decided to embrace the concept of the Hawaiian "Plate Lunch":  choice of meat (although why anyone would choose anything other than Honey Garlic Chicken is beyond me), two scoops of rice, and one scoop of macaroni salad (which is tasty as long as you don't think about the fact that it's just pasta mixed with mayonnaise with some grated carrots thrown in for color).  I also ate Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup with raw meat that eventually cooks itself in the broth) for the first time; I didn't love it at first, but then I ate it a second time and it basically cured the cold I had, so now I'm a fan.  There's a lot more interesting food that Hawaii has to offer that I have not yet tried, but I've got six months and a relatively brave palate.
Pho.  It's pronounced "fuh."
Whenever I say "Pho" I try to pronounce it really slowly so I sound like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" when he says,  "Fuuuuuuuuuuudge"
Potpourri (aka Miscellaneous)
  • Major life events not covered above:  Uh...I moved to Hawaii (in case the previous six months of blog posts didn't clue you in to that fact).  Oh, in February I presented my thesis at a conference in front of a bunch of really important forensic anthropologists (a lot of whom are now my co-workers, and some of whom I now find far less intimidating for that reason).  The thesis-turned-presentation was then turned into a paper which was accepted for publication in the Journal of Forensic Sciences (pending minor revisions).  I also survived my first tsunami!
  • Guest Stars!  A lot of people came to visit me*** in Hawaii, including Jamar, Laura, and Doree.  There was also a surprise appearance from Tracy, my freshman roommate from BYU.
  • Wholesome recreational activities:  I went sailing for the first time and several times thereafter (Pre-Hawaii); I basically doubled the number of times I've been to the beach (Hawaii). 
  • Major Purchases:  A real bed-frame (albeit a twin bed-frame), a neat secondhand chair, an ukulele(!), and some awesome grown-up clothes from stores that used to intimidate me.
Well, that's the end of my New Year's Eve wrap-up.  Once again, I leave you with the best New Year-themed movie clip of all time.  Dear [old] acquaintances, don't forget me; if I can have any control over my fate whatsoever, I will be spending next New Year's Eve somewhere not in Pennsylvania, certainly not in Hawaii, and hopefully with friends (and my own personal Billy Crystal).

*Also a substantial amount of freaking out.  
**I dislike the term "ex" and find it inappropriate in this case.  "Ex" should be someone at whom I throw dinnerware and small appliances while screaming at him to get the heck out of my apartment or something.
***More realistically, they came to see Hawaii and visiting me was more of an incidental thing.

Blog Contest: Choose My Adventure!

I totally cheated all the time with these books.
Remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books by Edward Packard?  You walk into the room.  There's a man lying on the floor.  He looks dead.  If you back away slowly and close the door, keep reading.  If you choose to poke the man with a stick, turn to page 49.  Remember?

Last year I had a blog giveaway.  It worked out really well, until the actual giving-away part.  So this year, I'm changing things up, because I don't do well with actual tangible prizes (Patrick, I haven't forgotten that I owe you a CD!).

I didn't make New Year's resolutions this year (like I did in 2012 and 2011), because I'm all about setting goals during the year at various times.  Of course, for most of the past six months, those goals have been something to the tune of "stop hating Hawaii."  I've decided that that is impossible, so I'm at a loss for new resolutions.  And that's where all of you come in.  You all are going to choose my adventure.

Rules of this blog contest are simple:  leave a comment with a resolution/goal for me to accomplish in 2013 (or, if it's Hawaii-related, in the next six months).  I will pick the one that I like the best and do it, documenting my progress regularly on this blog.  Obviously the thing has to be feasible, legal, inexpensive, non-life-threatening, and not requiring that I impose on the agency of others.  Other than that, it's fair game!

Oh yes, a deadline.  Let's say January 10th?  I probably won't reveal the winner through elaborate poetry again, though, because that was exhausting.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The "Due South" Effect

I have a strange affinity for all things Canadian---Sarah McLachlan, maple syrup, the word "sorry" pronounced with a long "o", and men.  If I meet an average-looking man, and that average-looking man tells me he's from the Deep North, he instantly becomes significantly more attractive to me.*  The reason for this is that as a young teenager, in my formative years, I became acquainted with Constable Benton Fraser.

Benton Fraser and Diefenbaker.
Years and years ago, my mom and I discovered this show in syndication on TNT:  "Due South."  It was about Benton Fraser, a Canadian Mountie who first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father, and for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture, remained, attached as liaison with the Canadian consulate.  He and his deaf wolf, Diefenbaker, teamed up with Ray Vecchio, a detective with the Chicago Police Department, and together they solve crimes.  

It sounds silly, but it's pretty much one of the best TV shows ever made (it ran from 1994-1999).  My old roommates gifted me the first two seasons on DVD for Christmas, and we've been marathoning it for the past few days (indisputably the best part of Christmas vacation so far).  Anyway, it's caused me to re-evaluate what I'm looking for in a man.  My new criteria:  rides horses and dogsleds, can track caribou across the tundra, overwhelmingly polite, Scotch-guarded at birth, and looks good in red Long Johns.**  

Here's hoping I make like a Mountie and "always get my man."

*I have dubbed this phenomenon "The 'Due South' Effect."
**To say that I haven't thought about the appealing prospect of dual citizenship would be a lie.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The F-Word

No...not that F-word.  Get your minds out of the gutters, people.

Probably the best episode of "Modern Family" ever.
My post is about a different "F-word" that gets thrown around a lot:  friend.  How often do you hear yourself or others use the phrase "my friend from work..." or "my friend from church..." in conversation when describing something said or done by someone you/they happen to know?

I've found that a lot of people are very liberal with this F-word; they're like the Samuel L. Jacksons of the word "friend."  I, however, don't say that people are my "friends" very often.  One practical reason is specificity.  "Friend" is very generic, and if the means through which I know someone is important to the anecdote, I would much rather refer to someone as my co-worker or my roommate or my visiting teacher.

The main reason for my lack of liberality with the F-word is that I have a very conservative definition of what constitutes a friend.  A friend is not just someone I talk to when I see them at church or work or wherever.  A friend is something much more intimate than amicable acquaintance.  A friend is someone whose welfare I think about even when I'm not around them, someone who I would go out of my way to see or talk to, someone with whom I can share good or bad news, someone I trust with my feelings.  Also, a friend is someone who feels all those same things about me.

I hope I don't offend people when I refer to them as acquaintances, or as my hybrid-term (patent pending) "friend-quaintances."  It doesn't mean they'll never ever be my friend; it just means that I'm not quite there yet, but if/when it happens, it'll be good.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I thought I was getting over my Hawaii-hate.  It turns out that what I was feeling was something akin to what happens when people eat poisonous mushrooms:  you're horribly sick, then you get a little bit better, and then you get way worse, and then you die.*  I was in the "get a little better" stage, the phase in which one gets raised up very high solely to increase the force with which one hits the ground.  I have allowed myself to be a loner for the past few days, and it has given me time to enumerate my grievances.  Here are two:

  • I am feel unattractive in Hawaii, both inherently- and relatively-speaking.  The humidity makes my skin break out and my hair look stupid, and the long hours and early-morning commutes to work give me stress lines and dark circles under my eyes.  Also, I am coming from Boston to Honolulu:  the 20th most attractive city in America to the 9th.  I was on the upper end of average-looking in Boston, what with my plethora of argyle sweaters, my assortment of quirky tights, and my hipster-librarian glasses, but I can't compete with these Hawaiian bronze goddesses; I literally pale in comparison.  Furthermore, I am much older than many of my friend-quaintances, and it shows:  I am an Ann Taylor in a room full of Abercrombies.  Finally, I have developed body-image issues, which is why I never put on a swimsuit which is why I am so pale.
  • I don't fit.  I have friend-quaintances, and they're nice people, and some of them I really feel could become actual friends at some point, but as of right now, I feel very alone.  Not alone in the terribly-depressing sense (yet), but in the sense that I have nobody similar to me in age and life situation.  In Boston, everyone was about the same age and everyone was either a grad/professional student or a young professional.  Here, I kind of feel like I'm the only one (see above, re:  I'm old), and that's rough.  Therefore, I have no confidante, no bosom friend, nobody who will come over when I'm feeling very unspecifically sad and let me hug them for two whole minutes, or rather, nobody whom I trust enough to hug for two whole minutes.  On at least one occasion, I felt hopeful that maybe I had found someone like this, but on at least one occasion, it did not turn out well.  Hence the trust issues.
Maybe it's not Hawaii's fault.  Maybe I would feel this in any other place, but any other place isn't an ocean away and five hours behind anyone I would want to call.  Any other place isn't so foreign and hot and bright and crowded and difficult.  Living in Hawaii is difficult.  And looking back over the past six months (yes, it's been exactly six months to the day that I moved here), I can't say that it's gotten any less difficult.  

So that's that.

*This is one of the few things I remember from many semesters of being a TA for Molecular Biology at BYU.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Babe with the Power

The inevitable has happened:  I got called to be branch choir director.  Some months ago, when I was in "sullen Alex" mode, I would have been like, blah blah...pigeonholed into a music opportunities for spiritual growth.  But not now, because I have realized the following things:

  • I am a dang good choir director.  It is probably the thing I am best at doing that can be done in church.  Maybe I'm not the kindest human being, and maybe I won't bring in delightful baked goods every Sunday, but I will make that choir work harder and sound better than ever before.*
  • In Boston, I made 92% of my friends because of (or more realistically, in spite of) the fact that I was their ward choir director.  Maybe this is how I will make more friends here.
  • I like the power.  Oh gosh, do I like the power.  There's something about being able to control the voices of the masses with my bare hands that sets something on fire in my blood.  The branch president might as well have given alcohol to a person with car keys.**
At any rate, I'm very excited.  First of all, I have two simultaneous callings (though being Relief Society music coordinator requires very little extracurricular activity), and secondly, I get to be in charge of a branch choir again!  I'm sad that this has happened only a few weeks before I leave for Christmas, and therefore I could not get a huge music program together, but I'll be ready to bring out the big guns for Easter.***

*Even if it means threatening to hit the basses with a music stand.  Hey, I've done it before, and it's quite effective for proper consonant placement.
**Anyone who really knows me should know that I don't require alcohol to do major damage with car keys.
***And also maybe Passover.  I've always wanted to try to get away with some awesome Jewish music in a sacrament meeting.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Swift Kick in the Bum

I had this thought/epiphany/emotional breakthrough last night.  I need to create my own inciting force, I think.  Unfortunately, I have no idea how to do that, but I feel that it might very well have to start with an attitude adjustment.  So here goes...

I am going to stop
  • constantly questioning whether or not I made the right choice by coming here.  First of all, I'm 83% sure that the answer to that question is "yes," and secondly, even if I didn't make the right choice, I came out here and there's nothing I can do about it.
  • living in the past and wondering what I could have done differently or better. 
  • reminiscing and replaying little moments of varying significance for the purpose of hiding and seeking solace in past memories/emotions.  This is a big thing that needs to change:  what has to be so wrong with me that I will think, hey, let me remember this really sad event so that I may make myself very depressed? Must nip that one in the bud.
  • worrying about things that are no longer in my control and people of whom I am not the boss.
  • hiding out in church from people I'm afraid to be friends with because I'm afraid that saying goodbye is going to suck as much as it did when I said goodbye to people in Boston.
If I find myself doing any of these things, I am going to force myself out of it, possibly with a by-myself dance party.

This said, I reserve the right to
  • be sad sometimes and cry when nobody is watching.
  • curse Hawaii, especially when people on the bus are stupid.
  • get jealous when my old friends start hanging out with people who are cooler than me.
  • miss people.  Specific ones, not just people in general.
  • decide that this thought/epiphany/emotional breakthrough was just a phase or a product of undigested celery or something and take it all back.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hugging, Revisited*

*or, One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back

This awkward hug has got nothing on my awkward hugs.
Remember when I wrote a post about how I didn't hug people?  I stuck by that for a while.  Then I got a boyfriend for a little bit, and somehow got really awesome at hugging.  But then I moved to Hawaii and my entire world turned upside down and somehow like an awkward turtle, I regressed ALL the way back into my awkward shell, and once again, I suck at hugging.

This wouldn't have been so bad if I had moved to New York or somewhere where people hate each other, but instead, I moved to Hawaii, an island full of really friendly Polynesians who really like to hug.  And cheek kiss.*  My first Sunday at church, the branch president came up to me and went in for the cheek kiss.  I kind of went with it, but on the inside, I was thinking WHAT IS THIS?  WE HAVE NOT MET.  Sometimes I try to preemptively go for a handshake, forcefully extending my arm before he can get near me, but somehow he turns it into a hug.  The man's an evil genius.

Other people try to hug me, too.  I have to tell them, "no, seriously; you don't understand; I am REALLY bad at hugging."  I go into Flipper mode or T-Rex mode or worse:  this one time I went for the double back pat.  And the guy whose back I double-patted called me on it.  All I could say was, "yes, I know; I'm aware that this just happened."  Also, there's usually this high-pitched noise of blatant discomfort that involuntarily comes out of my mouth.  Don't know what that's about.

So anyway, there you go.  This blog post is me recognizing that this is a problem, yet I have no way to fix it, unless I just go around hugging people awkwardly for no good reason until I start to somehow get better at it.  Awkward side hug booth, anyone?

*This is a thing I do not understand.  Where did this come from?  Who went up to someone one day and was like, "okay, Imma put my face up against your face, and then we're both gonna kiss the air.  1, 2, 3, go!"  Also, what happens if the cheek kiss goes horribly wrong when both parties turn the same way and then it turns into a mouth kiss?  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ryan Davis

You will note that I am in my pajamas, and my ukulele skills are not at their very finest, and maybe I am a little bit awkward when I am talking to my computer screen.  Deal with it.  If you listen closely, you may think that there are actually seven chords in this song, but I'm pretty sure that I completely made one of them up.

A year from now I will be better at playing the ukulele and will write more verses and then this will be on the Youtube with a link to where you can download the song on iTunes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

We Need a Little Christmas...Just Not Quite This Very Minute

At a much darker time in my life, I had a small* role in a high school production of Mame.  For those who don't know Mame, it's probably in the top ten of worst musicals ever.  Basically the only good things to come from this musical are the title song and the ever popular "We Need a Little Christmas."

I still remember one line as croaked sung by the sophomore "tenor"** playing young Patrick:
But Auntie Mame, it's one week from Thanksgiving Day now!
In other words, in 1929/30 or whenever this was supposed to be taking place (sometime in the midst of the Depression, at any rate), it was preposterous to be putting up Christmas decorations a week after Thanksgiving.

We've come a long way since the roaring and/or depressed 1920s.  The gin is out of the bathtub and back in the stores.  You know what's also in the stores?  Christmas decorations.  Starting in October.  Tinsel and red and green wrapping paper and colored lights pushed the costumes and fun-sized candy bars off the shelves before Halloween was even cold in the ground.  It's unfair, I tell you.

I went to the drug store today, two days before Thanksgiving.  The Christmas music was playing nonstop!  I wanted to plead, "just give us two more days, then go nuts!"  Poor Thanksgiving, the overlooked middle child of the holiday season, my favorite of all holidays.

Christmas can be magical.  But when we try to prolong the magic, by the time it's actually Christmas it's become spoiled and exhausted.  Instead of having Christmas to be some big event that we have to spend months "getting ready" for, why can't it sneak up on us naturally, descending upon us as lightly as that first snowflake after Thanksgiving?***

Just something to think about, I guess.

*And by "small" I mean microscopic.  That director did not like me for some reason...probably because I wasn't good at dancing or brown-nosing.  But I'm over it...I got my self-esteem back when I got cast in secondary roles in college operas as a non-voice major.  Take that, Sandy.
**He was not a tenor; he was a baritone, if he was to be considered a singer at all.  This director also thought that a voice part meant being able to hit the notes.  I erroneously believed I was a first soprano for years.
***It kills me that I live in a place where there are going to be no snowflakes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My First Hawaiian Stake Dance

In an attempt to switch directions from the past four months of moping around friendlessly hating Hawaii, I decided to "put myself out there" last night and go to a stake Young Single Adult (YSA) dance.  Here are some bullet points:

  • I had forgotten that dancing requires you to stand really close to people for extended periods of time.  And not just any people--man people.  This is a thing I have not done in a long time.  It was weird.
  • There was a lot of unrecognizable hip-hop music that all sounded the same.  Sometimes, when I dance to hip-hop music, I have to channel my inner Ellen Degeneres (without the whole lesbian part, probably) in order to even pretend to get into it.
  • After the first several songs of reinforcing all of the stereotypes about White people and hip-hop dancing, I lost energy (I'm sick, after all) and stood against the wall with my arms crossed for a little while.  This guy/kid came up to me very enthusiastically and asked, "you're not dancing, or are you a chaperone?"  Brilliant!  I nodded, "sure, I can be a chaperone!"*
  • After getting shanghaied into a couple of slow songs, the aforementioned guy/kid caught on to the fact that I was actually there for the dancing and not, in fact, for the monitoring of it.  He asked me to dance.  (I wanted to be like, "I'm a chaperone, remember?")  I am confident that even if I had taken off my heels, I would still have been taller than he was.  Also, he didn't know how to lead, so I had to do that.  First thing he asks me:  "How old are you?"  I have no qualms about revealing my age (even though I suspect that it is a significantly older age than most people in my branch), so I told him:  27.  Then he asked if I served a mission (no), if I planned to (not anytime in the next several decades), and why not (none of your business, kid, now stop dancing into the other couples!).
  • There was some really good bean dip.  And Tres Leches cake.  (The theme was "Fall Fiesta" which meant Salsa dancing and faux-Mexican food, apparently.)
  • I was slightly sick when I went to the dance.  By the end I wanted to stab my sinuses with an awl.  This morning I am all kinds of stuffy and achy.  I am constrained not to write any more about this dance for I must go to the drug store and medicate myself.

*Let me mention that it irks me that we had "chaperones."  Sometimes I feel that at YSA activities, people put too much emphasis on the "young" part and not enough on the "adult" part.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My "Inciting Force"

I've been reading Emily of Deep Valley by Maude Hart-Lovelace.  It's kind of a spin-off in the Betsy-Tacy series, a book that says, "meanwhile, in other people's lives..."  Laura gave me the book for my birthday, saying that I should be able to identify with Emily.  I surely can!  In the book, Emily stays home to have a "lost year" while all of her friends go off to college and she feels lonely and depressed and without direction, so she takes on all of these projects to give her life meaning and I'm not finished yet so I don't know what happens or how it ends, but presumably she ends up with this handsome schoolteacher.

This has inspired me to start writing things down in the hopes that eventually I will publish the memoirs of my year in the paradise that is my personal hell.  (You will notice that this is another project to give my life direction.)  I tried to write some things earlier today, but failed.  The reason?  I lack perspective.  Also, I can't yet figure out a way to not make this a story about my first major experience in heartbreak, but mostly it's the perspective thing.

Unlike Emily, whose story was published decades ago, my story is still in progress.  And sadly, it's still in exposition mode.  I'm on the third or fourth chapter of being miserable and moping around with nothing to do.  I have yet to encounter an inciting force, some event that sets things into motion.

I fear it's getting too late.  This story is only a year long, and I've spent five months of it in exposition, and it's not even great exposition.  I mean, it's slightly better than three blank pages symbolizing Bella Swan sitting in her room wearing the same outfit for three months and screaming into her pillow every night, but it's pretty lame:  work every day; cry in church; sit at home and write in my journal while listening to The Civil Wars; lather, rinse, repeat for five months.  Something had better kick me into rising action mode pretty quickly.

For Emily, going to a dance with Cab Edwards helped.  There's a dance at the institute this weekend.  Not really my scene, and I'm certain we won't be doing the Turkey Trot, but maybe I'll crash.  See what happens.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

True Love as Described by a Forensic Anthropologist

When you're reconstructing skeletal remains and you see this tiny little piece that doesn't really look like anything and you don't really know what it is, and then you notice that it bears the same taphonomic signature as this other piece that, as it turns out, has a little piece missing.  They fit together perfectly and the whole thing makes sense, and it's such a joyful moment that you don't even mind that it took several tedious hours of sifting through pieces that didn't fit anywhere and that you had to sit there for five minutes holding the thing together so the glue could dry, and that joy is enough to make you want to keep doing that, trying over and over again.  This is what love is like.

If you can't tell, I spent much of the day alone with fragmented vertebrae, acetone-soluble adhesive, and my thoughts.  I should really get some sort of music-listening device for the lab floor.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

As It Turns Out, They Do.

In response to my previous post, good things do come to those who wait, and then keep hoping even when all seems lost.

So remember how distraught I was when my dream room was taken?  Horribly distraught, that's how.  Like an idiot, I kept checking the website just to see if maybe whoever booked the room cancelled.  They didn't; however...the B&B lowered their room rates!!  So now I got to book an even nicer room for under the government rate.  I'm the luckiest idiot there ever was.

Look how freaking adorable this room is!
Queen bed, private bathroom.  And free WiFi in the room, a home-cooked breakfast every morning, and delicious (in theory) cookies waiting for me when I come back in the afternoons.

This was the happiest of all days.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait...Unless They're Me

I'm going to a conference in Washington, D.C. in February, and I really wanted to stay at this really cute Bed and Breakfast next to the conference hotel instead of at the conference hotel.  I tried to be "responsible" and wait until the advanced program for the meetings came up before I booked my room so I could confirm which days I would be staying.

I waited a day too long.

I was so sad to find out that the room I wanted (the only one under the government rate that I could get reimbursed for the full cost of the room) had been booked.  It made me not want to go to the conference anymore.  I ended up booking a room in the conference hotel.  I'm trying to see the bright side.

-I don't have to go outside in February to go to the sessions.
-My room has a full private bathroom (the B&B room had a communal shower)
-There's a TV.

-No free breakfast
-No free WiFi in the room
-It's so "mainstream" and I can't say that I'm supporting a small business that serves locally-grown food.

I'll have to find some other occasion to stay at that B&B for two nights or so in my life.  Honeymoon?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In a Dark, Dark Room

Today was pretty fun.  I stayed at home and rested for most of the day before meeting my old roommate Doree at the Ala Moana Shopping Center for late dinner and reminiscing.  While I was waiting for her to get there, I browsed around Barnes and Noble to see what I could see and maybe buy something awesome if something awesome was to be bought.  And oh, it was.

Surprisingly, they still had Halloween stuff there (although it was definitely overshadowed by Christmas stuff), and in the Bargain book section, they had this book:

It was hardcover, for only $5.98.  Bargain, indeed!  Let me tell you about this book:  this is probably the book that wins the award for "book most frequently checked out from the Aliquippa Public Library by tiny Alex in the early 90s."  I believe it was partially responsible for my creepy phase (that I have yet to grow out of).  There's this one story about a girl who wears a green ribbon around her neck in order to [SPOILER ALERT] keep her head from falling off; there's a variation on the ghostly hitchhiker story; and then there's a bunch of other stories that are super creepy with illustrations that terrify me and fill me with nostalgia in equal measure.

This is a book that I will read to my children.  Maybe not at bedtime, though.

Friday, November 2, 2012

About Nothing in Particular

I can't believe it's already November.

In some ways, it almost feels like fall.  Not in the kind of way that it would feel like fall in any normal part of the world, but a little bit.  I walked outside in a sweater and was almost chilly!  I could have been chilly because I also have a cold, but having a cold kind of also makes it feel like fall.

I found a new route home from the bus stop today.  It's through a suburban neighborhood; it's kind of a nice change from the sidewalk along the major street.  It's significantly faster and it feels a little safer (not that the other way was dangerous).  I'm kicking myself for not finding it sooner.  There were still Halloween decorations out, but many were being taken down.  I bet it will be nice at Christmastime.

On that note, I got my leave approved for my Christmas holiday!  Not that I was worried about it not getting approved, but my holiday is actually a reality now.  Kind of exciting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky Scary

Riddle me this, readers:

Swing set
Clown doll
Electric fan

How do you make these things as scary as all get out?

Happy Halloween, everyone.

*(Alternate Post Title:  "Why yes, as a matter of fact, I am!")

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Crashing like a tidal wave, that drags me out to sea"

This is what the news website looked like.
I've hit another "first" in my Hawaiian experience:  my first tsunami.  I was sitting in my apartment alone watching a movie on TV* when a banner flashes across the screen with a weather advisory.  Canada has been causing all kinds of trouble, it seems:  in addition to Frankenstorm on the East Coast, an earthquake off the coast of British Columbia caused a tsunami to head south to Hawaii.  A warning was issued along with the statement that the first (but not necessarily the biggest) wave would hit at 10:28 pm.  There was a siren outside.  And also cannons, maybe.  It was all very loud and alerting.

After some checking online and some texting with my home teacher (yes, I finally have one of those now), I figured I would be basically safe on the 18th floor of my relatively inland apartment building.  Even so, I was glad for the amount of prep time that they gave us.  I was able to finish the movie, fold my laundry, take a shower, and fill up various receptacles with yucky-tasting (but clean) tap water.  Then I watched the news and waited.  10:28 came and went with no waves.  Nothing happened, and I was getting sleepy, so I went to bed.

Nothing kept happening even as I was asleep.  (Thankfully, no more sirens.)  I woke to find out the "warning" had been changed to an "advisory."  It seems to be a pattern for me that all my natural disasters keep getting downgraded.  I guess that's a good thing, though.  But at least that's one more "crazy" thing I can add to my life resume.

*I'm not going to say the name of this movie, because I'm a little ashamed of it.  In fact, when I was at the peak of my worry about the tsunami, I thought, "oh no...I can't believe I spent my last hours on earth watching --------"  But for the record, I'm totally Team Jacob.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Music: Halloween Edition

Of course I have to make a playlist for my second favorite holiday!*  Here is my Halloween Playlist, in the order that the songs are in after I hit "shuffle" just now:
  1. "Witchcraft" (Frank Sinatra)
  2. "Witchy Woman" (Eagles)
  3. "I Put a Spell on You" (Nina Simone)
  4. "Jack's Lament" from the "Nightmare Revisited" album (The All-American Rejects)
  5. "Werewolves of London" (Warren Zevon)
  6. Danse Macabre, Op. 40 (Saint-Saëns, composer)
  7. "Organ Donor" (Jeremy Messersmith)
  8. Theme from "Beetlejuice" (Danny Elfman, composer)
  9. "Ghostbusters" (Ray Parker Jr.)
  10. "Time Warp" (Cast of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show")
  11. "This is Halloween" from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (Danny Elfman, composer)
  12. "Skeleton Song" (Kate Nash)
  13. "Witch Doctor" (Sha Na Na)
  14. "Monster Mash" (Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Cryptkeeper Five)
  15. Theme from "The Addams Family"
  16. "That Old Black Magic" (Louis Prima and Keely Smith)
  17. "The Purple People Eater" (Sheb Wooley)
  18. "Thriller" (Michael Jackson)
  19. "Spooky" (The Classics Iv)
  20. "Love Potion No. 9" (Clovers)
Happy Halloween, everyone.

Update:  here are some new songs that I'll have to acquire for next year!
  1. "Knock Three Times" (Black Tape For A Blue Girl)
  2. "Dead Man's Party" (Oingo Boingo)
  3. "The Zombie Song" (Stephanie Mabey)
  4. "Nightmare on My Street" (The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff)

*I bet you all thought that Halloween would be my favorite holiday since I'm so inherently spooky, didn't you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Bought an Ukulele

My cheap camera doesn't really do it justice.
Also, it's not pronounced "you-kulele" but "oo-kulele," hence the "an" and not "a."
Maybe I've given up on many of my "how to enjoy Hawaii" plans, but I had to follow through on at least one of them.  On Saturday, after a wonderful morning at the Temple,* I got back on the 55 bus and continued my magical mystery tour of the North Shore until I ended up in Haleiwa, home of the Ukulele store (among other things**).  I almost didn't go, thinking I would be "practical" and not spend a ridiculous amount of time on the bus to go buy something I didn't absolutely need, but then I thought, I'm going to buy a musical instrument to develop a new talent; it's not like I'm going to buy something stupid.  Also, waiting for the bus, I met these two guys from California who were visiting the island, and one of them had an ukulele in his bag and he said that although they were "trendy" (darn you Zooey Deschanel!), they were fun to have and easy to play.  So it was Fate.  Off I went to The Ukulele Site.

The guys at the store were incredibly nice.  There were even two who didn't even work there who helped me pick out an ukulele and who showed me how to play some chords.  So my mission was accomplished:  I bought a concert-sized Cordoba ukulele!  It was reasonably priced, and as a bonus, it came with a "gig-bag," though I will probably buy a real case at some point because I don't think the canvas bag will travel on a plane very well.

My dad was excited about my purchase; I think because he wants me to learn the Hukilau song.  My mom couldn't seem to wrap her head around it.  She was like, "that's so odd that you would buy such an instrument," because the ukulele is humorous to her somehow.  I was like, "would you think it was weird if I told you I bought a guitar?"  She said no, so I told her to think of it as a guitar, only smaller and with only four strings.

Even though the price was reasonable for a musical instrument, it was still a decent amount of money, but that's a good thing, because it motivates me to practice daily (though I did make a promise to my roommate that I'd limit my playing to normal awake hours).  I already have the C-Am-F-G7 chord progression pretty much down, which means I can play about 83% of the songs.  G7 is hard, but it's slowly getting into my muscle memory.  The next big one to tackle will be Em.  Now that's a man's chord.  I'm already starting to get some fun calluses on my fingers that I can show off to people to let them know that I'm a legit ukuleleist.

I don't presume that I'm any good, or that I will be any good anytime soon, but I have a goal (because I'm all about the goals, you know) to play in public in the year 2013.  So we'll see how that goes.

*Okay, the monthly temple visit is another goal that I'm actually keeping up with.
**Like the really famous Shave Ice place and the less-famous but apparently better Shave Ice place.  I did not go to either Shave Ice place as both had very long lines, and I was on an ukulele-buying mission.  Also, all the bus-waiting and walking around left me super sunburned, and also with an unsatisfied craving for Shave Ice.

Friday, October 19, 2012


My absentee ballot arrived in the mail yesterday and I realized I have a decision to make pretty soon.  Am I a terribly ignorant person for not knowing whom I'm voting for yet?  Sometimes I feel that I am, that since I'm an adult of 27 that I should have strong political opinions and maybe a t-shirt with somebody's campaign slogan on it.

The internet is little help.  Ninety percent of Facebook political posts are something to the effect of "why we should NOT vote for so-and-so" or "why such-and-such is a liar."  Telling me why I shouldn't vote for Candidate A is not the same as telling me why I should vote for Candidate B, you know.  I took one of those online political quizzes and it said I should vote for Jill Stein of the Green-Rainbow* party, who, as far as I can tell from her webpage, believes in everything but doesn't seem to have any concrete plans about how to accomplish any of those things.  But I guess she doesn't have to.  Being a Green-Rainbow or Libertarian candidate is a pretty low-stress gig.  You don't even have to go to the debates.

Watching (and by "watching" I mean "reading the transcripts online the next day") the debates doesn't move me in either direction.  All I've learned is that each candidate is above-average at arguing most of the time.  And sure, I could vote based on what a candidate says he's going to do if re/elected, but come on now, how much of that stuff is he actually going to do in four years?  It's kind of a lot of stuff for someone who is going to get checked and balanced all the time.  I could say, "yes, I'll vote for you if you do this one thing, but I don't really care about most of that other stuff, so if you're only going to do that stuff and not the one thing I do care about, I don't really care."

I have reasons to like each candidate, or rather, I have reasons to want to like each candidate, but nothing has been said or done that has made me love one particular candidate.  Then again, I'm voting in a state that's pretty set in its ways politically, so I could vote for anyone and it really wouldn't matter, and that takes a lot of the stress out of things.

*I was hoping that Kermit the Frog and "Rainbow Connection" were somehow endorsing this candidate, but apparently Muppets are politically neutral.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Stinky Dead Cat...or a Live One That's Pretty Angry at You

I don't know to whom this image belongs; if I did, I'd credit them.
I think I figured it out.  Well, at least one of many "its."  I submitted my first of seven grad school applications today, only a half-hour after submitting the manuscript of a portion of my thesis research to the Journal of Forensic Sciences.  Before you applaud my motivation to do these things (on my birthday, no less!), let me tell you that these are things that could have been finished ages ago.  So why have they taken so long?  Sure, I was fussing over word choices here and there, but apart from that, the answer lies in Schrödinger's Cat.*

As long as my manuscript sits on my flash drive, unsubmitted, it has not been accepted by the Journal.  However, it also has not been rejected!  The same thing goes for my grad school applications.  It's comfortable; however, although I can certainly be a success in this scenario, I'm also simultaneously a failure.  And I don't like failure.  So I hit "submit!"  Let's see what happens.

*I'd like to say that this was an original idea, but it was inspired by Laura, who at a certain point had simultaneously passed and failed the bar exam (upon opening the box, she found that she passed!).  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


In some parts of the world, it's already my birthday.

Actually, this is the least excited I've ever been about it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

[Name Withheld]*

Ode to [Name Withheld]:

Oh, [name withheld], how you terrify me.
If I had a Boggart, it would look like you.
If I were choking to death on a grape, and you were the only person who could give me the Heimlich maneuver, I would die pacing back and forth in front of your office working up the courage to go in.
No, I wouldn't.
I would die at my desk crafting a meticulously polite email asking you if you wouldn't possibly mind saving my life if you had a spare moment and if it wasn't too much of a bother.
And I cited your paper in my thesis.

*Because it would be not professional to use his name in a blog post.  Also, I'm afraid if I type it three times, he might magically appear.  Like Beetlejuice. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

An Abomination Worthy of a Blog Post

No, little Tiger.  You have to earn the right to put your shoes on like that.
I was flipping through the channels, and I saw a listing on PBS Kids for something called "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood," and I thought, is that...?  No...they wouldn't. 

But they did.  They made a cheap animated spin-off of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."  Is nothing sacred anymore?  There is nothing antiquated or obsolete about the original live-action show; this is clearly just an attempt to squeeze more money out of a dead childhood icon.

Why can't people leave well enough alone?

How to Ride "The Bus" Like a Hawaiian*

*I use the term "Hawaiian" to mean "lifelong resident of Hawaii," regardless of ancestral origin.

  1. Don't give up your seat for anyone.  Not the woman who is obviously struggling to carry an extremely heavy shopping bag.  Not the thousand-year-old Chinese lady.  Not even the blind guy who just got on.
  2. Sit in the aisle seat.  Put all of your stuff in the window seat next to you, or better yet, just flaunt its emptiness to all of the people standing who aren't going to attempt to climb over your legs.
  3. Stuff too heavy?  Just set it down in the aisle, no problem!
  4. Take a load off.  Put your feet up on the seat across from you.  You've had a long day; you deserve it.
  5. Be the first person off the bus as soon as it stops, because it's totally a race.  Get up and move to the door even while the bus is still moving.  Make other people stand up and let go of the railings to let you through.  It's okay, it's Hawaii, so obviously everyone surfs and therefore has a great sense of balance.
  6. Finally, and most importantly, ride with "Aloha."  That means no matter how much any of the above-mentioned things piss you off, you just smile and deal with it.
Sigh.  Well, it's still cheaper than a car.

6:30 PM

I hate this time of day.

Everyone I could talk to is asleep.  Or should be asleep.

If they aren't asleep, any conversation that could be had would involve me feeling guilty for keeping them up so late, and them insisting that they'd be up anyway, and me not believing them.

Or the conversation would swerve dangerously close to "heartfelt feelings talk" territory.

As a matter of fact, the conversation would only be happening today for one of us.
For them, it's already tomorrow.

But for me, it's still today.  And I still have to do the stairs.
I've got to ignore the temptation of the green robots somehow.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Yet Another List

But this one is relevant!  I'm back on the PhD application train (third time is the charm, right?) and have finally made a list of schools.  I'm not going to bore you blog readers with my entire thought process behind choosing these schools, because really, you don't care (and I'm not going to make my hardcore "pro/con" lists until some of these places actually accept me).  But maybe you do care about the various locations wherein I may find myself next Fall (or at least I'd like to think you do).  So here they are, in alphabetical order, with their pros and cons (and I've only actually been to three of these places, so some of them I'm just making up).

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD)
  • Pro:  It's only an hour away from Washington, D.C., Laura Taylor, and Cafe Rio.
  • Con:  I'll probably get shot.
Boston University School of Medicine (Boston, MA)
  • Pros:  I can navigate the place blindfolded; most of the people I like are there; it's just freaking amazing; UBurger.
  • Cons:  I would have said things are expensive, but that was before I moved to the Island of the Six-Dollar Box of Cereal (that's actually what "Oahu" means in Hawaiian).  I got nothing; Boston is absolute perfection.
University of Missouri (Columbia, MO)
  • Pro:  Living in Missouri might be kind of cool.
  • Con:  Living in Missouri might be kind of lame.
The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
  • Pro:  It's only a three-hour drive from my parents' house.
  • Con:  It's only a three-hour drive from my parents' house.
Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  • Pro:  There's a really good Greek Pizza place in East Lansing.
  • Con:  The really good Greek Pizza place is pretty much the only thing East Lansing has going for it.
University of Connecticut Health Center (Farmington, CT)
  • Pros:  It's New England (i.e. practically Boston); I can pretend I'm friends with the Gilmore Girls.
  • Cons:  I have never heard of Farmington, Connecticut before.  And probably neither has anybody else.  
Penn State Hershey (Hershey, PA)
  • Pro:  Chocolate.
  • Con:  Hershey's Chocolate.
University of Pretoria (Pretoria, South Africa)
  • Pros:  How cool would it be to say that I got to live in South Africa?
  • Cons:  I will probably get shot more often than I would living in Baltimore.
If anybody has actually been to these places and would like to chip in useful living advice, please comment!

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's a Monday kind of day.

Today is one of those days when I'm far too realistic about all of my goals.  Not about achieving them so much as my motivation for them.  Every little "project" is just some temporary distraction from the fact that I hate it here, and serves no real purpose.

Learn to make Haupia pie?  Why?  So I can eat it by myself when I'm feeling terribly miserable for one reason or another?

Re-learn German?  Let's face it, I'm never going to go to Europe, no matter how much I talk about it.  I'm not that kind of Alexandra.

Climbing all of the stairs in my building to get in excellent shape?  Okay, exercise is good for the ticker, to be sure.  But why do I care what my butt looks like?  So I look cute in a swimsuit when I go to the beach with all of my friends?

I haven't given up hope on the ukulele.  I did fork out $5 for the chord chart, after all.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


The beginning of June was a very emotionally wacky time for me (for good reason!), and during that time I spent a lot of time writing in a journal as an outlet for my emotional wackiness.  Here's an excerpt from 13 June 2012:
It's strange that this room won't be mine anymore.  With the exception of my parents' house, this is the longest that I've ever lived anywhere.  This tiny room has been a sanctuary for so long.  I'll just have to find a new one in Hawaii.  It seems that Hawaii should be full of sanctuaries.
I scoffed at this so much after I moved here.  I was not (and still am not) the type to find solace in the beach. There's the Temple, to be sure, but four hours on a bus is a little much to seek sanctuary there more than once a month.  I had given up hope until I found this place.

The Old Mission House caught my eye when I was waiting for the bus one day.  What struck me was that apart from the palm trees on the grounds, it did not look like it belonged in Hawaii.  It looked like it could have been in New England, or even Virginia.

Look at that steep roof to keep the snow off.
It turned out that the House was built in the 1820s by missionaries from Boston.  As a matter of fact, the materials to build the house were shipped from there.  It made me wonder, did these Boston bricks feel out of place?  Like they didn't belong and would never fit in?  Like the way I feel all of the time?

I went inside today on a free tour courtesy of the Smithsonian.*  It was nice to be inside; it reminded me of all of the old houses and museums in Boston (and the Northeast in general).  The grounds are lovely and there's a very nice church with a (sadly) rather dilapidated cemetery nearby.  I can't say for certain that I've found a sanctuary yet, but it is comforting to have found a kindred spirit in another Boston transplant in Hawaii, even if it is made of stones.

*It was a free pass for two people, so of course, I went alone. 

Twelve Reasons This Week Was Kinda Groovy

Many of which might have to do with shopping, getting the mail, and the general presence of Laura Taylor in my life.

1.  I bought new shoes at Nine West for (wait for it) $9.99!

2.  I made my first Banana Republic purchase ever:  This sweater that was also on super sale (it looks way better on me than on the manne-model).  

3.  If you haven't already guessed, I went shopping with Laura Taylor, who convinces me to try on and buy things, and who helps me not be intimidated by Banana Republic, and who is working on getting me over my fear of Toms.

4.  I bought drawers!  No more living out of a suitcase for me (yes, I've had half of my clothes in a suitcase for the past three months).

5.  We ate Puka (or Hula?) Dogs in Waikiki on Tuesday night for dinner.  Polish Dog in a Taro-Bacon Roll (yeah) with mango relish and all sorts of other sauces.

6.  The orange pants that I "bought" (gift card plus free shipping promotion) came in the mail on Monday and they fit and they're awesome.
With these and the shoes I have a very colorful bottom two-thirds of a date outfit...if I ever go on a date.
7.  My GRE scores also came in the mail on Monday and even though I only met my goal on one section, I still did much better than I did the last time percentile-wise!

8.  We were leaving to go to the mall on Monday and I was like, "I'd better get the mail, because what if my pants come?  Or my GRE scores?"  BOTH THINGS CAME!  I also got a postcard (from Laura Taylor--so freaky) from Europe and a wedding announcement from my old home teacher.  All the mail was for me that day.

9.  New TV started this week!  I have a reason to stay in the house at night again!

10.  I gave my first tour of the CIL this week to a group of Senior Military Wives (i.e. really cute older ladies) and it was awesome.They laughed at all of the jokes I didn't make (seriously, what is it about my delivery?) and they had really good questions.  I now want to give more tours.  Granted, it would have been more awesome if there hadn't been a photographer on the tour and/or if I'd attempted to make my hair look decent, but nevertheless...

11.  Laura was here.  We tore it up.  Enough said.

12.  We got 59-minute-ruled at work today (that means we got to leave early).

Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Another GIF Moment

When I found out I would be peer-reviewing a report by a guy who tore me apart during peer-review:

Revenge will be swift.  And also terrible.
Disclaimer:  I don't actually use the peer review process to air out my own personal vendettas (not that I have vendettas anyway).  But I did use my pen rather unabashedly.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pearl at Half-Price

Laura and I went to Waikiki for the first time yesterday.  Well, I went for the first time; Laura had been twice already.  (I know, I lived here for three months before going to Waikiki, sue me.)

Waikiki is definitely full of rich tourists.  And by "full of" I mean "overrun with."  Crazy crowded, it was.  It was also full of kiosks with overpriced souvenirs and salespeople pushing these souvenirs on the tourists.  Laura and I got snagged by a bald-headed man who handed us a flier, and on this flier we could pick a pearl for half the price of a normal pearl.  It was a neat concept--you pick the oyster, pry it open, and get to keep whatever's inside for the "low" price of $14 (or $7, if you got the half-price flier)--but not neat enough for me to drop $7 on a pearl that's just going to get lost in the bottom of my purse.

Trying to be clever, I was like, "no thanks, I read that Steinbeck book and I pretty much want to avoid pearls."

The guy didn't know what I was talking about, so I continued, "you know, The Pearl?  Basically the guy gets a pearl and it pretty much ruins his life."

And the guy responds, "well, anything written by a Jew would be pretty over-dramatic."

Well, on that slightly anti-Semitic note...I was turning to leave, but the guy wouldn't give up.  He asked us our names, and Laura of course told him our real names.  Then he asked, "are you guys Mormons?"

How did he know?  I guess we were wearing the most clothes out of all the Hawaii tourists, and we had that not-drunk look about us.  He said it was because we were "closed off" (um, you mean because we backed away when you got way too close to our faces?) and because we were "frugal" (or maybe too sensible to buy some pearl from a kiosk?).

Laura thought he was awesome, though, but I'm not surprised.  She thinks everything in Hawaii is awesome.

John Steinbeck was Episcopalian, by the way.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

(Joint) Restaurant Review: Downbeat Diner and Lounge

There are perks to having a friend in town, one of which is a second perspective on dining establishments.  So, for the first (and maybe only) time, I bring you a joint restaurant review!

My part:  we decided to be hipsters today.  We went to Chinatown which is pretty sketchy but definitely "hip" and ate at the Downbeat Diner and Lounge on Hotel Street.  The online reviews stated that the atmosphere was "hipster," so we put on our sock-less flat shoes and cross-body purses and headed over to this place.  So exclusive it was.*  Check out the booths:  there are faces of random people on them!  It's also kind of a bar, and of course, they serve lots of PBR.**

Of course, I am continuing my quest, so I ordered the burger.  It was the "American Burger" ($8), which is the basic beef cheeseburger.  (A cool thing about this place is that everything comes in a vegan option, if you're into that sort of thing.)  One thing that I didn't love was that the burger didn't automatically come with fries; you had to pay $2 extra for them.  You could pick different seasonings, however.  Our waitress told us that the Cajun fries were "where it's at," so I ordered them.  The burger was good!  I liked the fact that there was more than one tomato slice and that the onions had a presence, but they weren't overwhelming.  The burger-to-bun ratio was stellar, and the bun had a very good, substantial texture.  The fries were good:  fluffy and non-greasy, and the spices weren't super salty nor were they super spicy.  There were a heck of a lot of fries, however, so the waitress packed them up for me in the biggest box I've ever seen a small amount of fries to go in.

We had dessert, as well, but I'll let Laura tackle that part much more poetically than I ever could.

She's pointing to Tom Selleck's face.
The Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae was the most delicious moment of my day, well, maybe the second most delicious moment of my day because I had chocolate hazelnut frozen yogurt in Waikiki, and I love chocolate hazelnuts. But seriously, the SCCCS was incredible. The (two) salted chocolate chip cookies were just salty enough to balance out the sweet of the ice cream without being TOO salty. The chocolate and caramel sauce drenching the cookies and ice cream were, again, just present enough to present beautiful flavor without making the cookies soggy or overpowering them. And whipped cream on the top? What more could you ask for????***

The French toast with ham and cheese sandwich (the Monte Cristo) was INSPIRED. Again, the perfect salty-sweet combination was present here. However, I would have liked a lot more powdered sugar on the french toast, but that could just be because I really really really like sugar (in college my track coach told me I was addicted to sugar [I wasn't] and that I needed to break my addiction via a strange diet that involved not eating bread or fruit for 3 months, and in an effort to really stick it to him I decided to become addicted to sugar). If I was making this at home, I would put on more sugar and perhaps have some maple syrup to dip in. 

Wrap-up:  This place is good.  If you're ever in Honolulu's Chinatown and are like, I really don't want Asian food, or rather, if you're like, Chinese food is far too mainstream for me, go to the Downbeat Diner and Lounge.  Service is really good; prices are decent; and food is fantastic!

*Exclusive is the hipster word.
**aka Hipster Beer.
***When we were actually in the restaurant, Laura said that this sundae restored her faith in a Higher Power.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Short Women

From Tague (2000).
Disadvantage, hmm?  I wonder if there's a height requirement on the Ford Foundation Grant application.

A Post for Laura Taylor

She's really excited that she got lei'd today.
Laura Taylor is probably one of my favorite humans ever, and she's in Hawaii sleeping on my floor!  She is awesome, and I am awesome, but together, our combined awesomeness exceeds the sum of our individual awesomenesses.  Here are some examples:

What happened after we exchanged over a hundred emails in less than a month:
Laura Taylor
Sep 18 (1 day ago)
to me
seriously. What is up with that? Also I'm pretty sure we broke gmail...I've been trying to send emails but it doesn't work. Clearly it's the 100+ email chain that is responsible...

The conversation following my first kiss with then-beau:
11:46 AM me: Guess what?
 Laura: ???????
  no more VL?
 me: Yep.
  and you survived????????
 me: I know
11:47 AM and more importantly, he survived.
 Laura: hahahahaha
  Alex I am so proud of you.
  It's like, you're the experimental group and I'm the control group of Boston girls who don't like to be touched.
  And you have proved that this experiment WORKS.

Prepping me for my first viewing of "Star Wars" and also ranting about boys:
me: I'd better get to bed
 Laura: tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.
 me: That's tru
 Laura: your new life with STAR WARS.
 me: Yep!
5:25 PM I'm excited...except for the part that I might cut off XXXXX's hand with a light saber
  Because he totally deserves it
 Laura: I think parts might be more effective.
  that would solve that problem once and for all.
 me: Oh gosh
 Laura: just saying.
 me: Yep
5:26 PM But, he should date other he can keep his man parts

Okay, maybe we're pretty wicked, but in this case, wickedness = happiness.  Be prepared for more blog updates about our great Hawaiian adventure.