Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An (Unwarranted?) Explanation

"I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude"
(Henry David Thoreau)

I like to do things by myself.  I always have.  This doesn't mean I'm sad and lonely (probably), and it doesn't mean that I hate people (well...), but I just like having by-myself time.  This is especially true on the weekends.  I've gotten into the habit of occupying my Saturdays with a bus ride to some place where I would walk around and explore.  I told someone about one of these Saturdays recently, and the person got offended (or maybe fake offended--I don't know her well enough to determine if she has a sense of humor) that I didn't invite her to come with me!  So now I feel like I must explain myself (maybe) with three points:
  1. I like to do things when I want to do them.  When I was faced with the response, "you should have invited me!" I wanted to say, "did you want to leave at 6:45 in the morning?"  Because I did.  And I didn't want to waste my morning waiting around for people who know how to sleep in to wake up and decide that they're ready to do stuff.
  2. Related somewhat to point number one, I like doing things by myself without the stress of someone's wants and needs affecting my decision-making.  If I want to walk around a town square six times before deciding which restaurant will be providing my lunch that day (like I have), I don't want to worry about another person getting hungry and impatient.
  3. In my life, there have been very few people with whom I could comfortably spend a whole day.  In fact, I can only immediately think of two, maybe three.  I've never been a "people person."  Conversing with people does not come easily to me, and I very much dislike feeling like I have to have a conversation when I would be perfectly at ease sitting silently with my thoughts.  
So, to all future people I with whom I don't hang out, it's nothing personal, and I don't necessarily dislike you; you just don't happen to be one of the three people I find more "companionable" than myself.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The New Man of My Dreams

As I mentioned in a post nearly two years ago,* I dream pretty awesome things.  Last night I had an awesome dream in which I shared an awesome dance with this guy:

Peter Tork, from The Monkees, for those not in the know.
It's very strange.  As a young girl, I always had a crush on Davy Jones**--I'd even try to "fudge the numbers" and rationalize that he wasn't actually forty years older than I was.  I guess as a twenty-something, however, my tastes have changed!  In my dream, I had just returned from doing some awesome stunts in a Superman costume, when The Monkees showed up, and Peter and I did this dance to "California Girls" (I think they were covering it for their show).  It was a great swing-dance type of number.  Peter was so professional, making our height differential no big deal.  In true Monkees fashion, the curmudgeon principal of the high school we were dancing through scolded us and gave us (as well as Davy, Mike, and Mickey) detentions.  It was worth it, black spot on my otherwise outstanding academic record notwithstanding.  

*Also, this post used to come up in the Google search results for "Adrien Brody" a lot; or so say my blog stats.
**May he rest in peace.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Other Things That Happened Today

Because they were unrelated to my Kahuku Grill experience and too numerous (i.e. there's more than one thing) to just be a Facebook status:
  1. Context (for my non-Mormon readers):  in the temple, patrons wear all white.  For women, this includes pantyhose/stockings/tights/whatever you want to call them.  Upon leaving the temple today, I looked down at my legs and thought, oh no!  I forgot to take my stockings off! but then realized, nope...that's just what color my legs are.  I am still the pastiest haole on this rock.  But hey, no skin cancer (probably)!
  2. Background (for everyone):  one of my new quests (I have a lot of quests these days as there's very little going on in my life) is to learn how to make Indian dishes (Korma and Tikka Masala, primarily) from scratch.  I thought this would be difficult when I realized that most of the grocery stores only sell ingredients to make food from the East side of Asia, but lo and behold!  In my exploration of Kahuku I found this sketchy little Indian Restaurant/mini-mart that sells all of the necessary spices and ingredients!
  3. I began to re-read The Great Gatsby on the (long) bus ride from Honolulu to Laie.  I sometimes do this dramatic thing in my head where I imagine the scenes being played out, but the characters are played by my friends who may (or may not) have life parallels.  I occasionally cast myself as Jordan Baker (because I think she'd be a fun character to play), but sometimes not (because I feel we don't have much in common).  I shall not publicly say whom I cast unequivocally as Gatsby, as I don't know whether or not he'd take it (and my reasoning behind it) as a compliment.  None of my characters are ever portrayed by Jack Russell Terriers, however.
Overall, it was a pretty decent day.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Restaurant Review: Kahuku Grill

The front of the place.  Also, look at the boy in the window.  Look at him.
I think I may have found my rebound burger.  Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to replace the wonderful burgers in Boston (you know who you are), but I'm not in Boston, so I have to move on just a tiny bit.  I went to the Kahuku Grill on the North Shore for lunch after visiting the Laie Temple today.  I was planning on eating a burger in any case, but I also took the advice of many internet reviewers who said to follow the example of the locals and get the burger instead of the "Famous Coconut Shrimp" (which I may try next time, because there will be a next time).

If you close your eyes and imagine "Traditional Hawaii Burger Joint," Kahuku Grill is what you see.  It definitely has that run-down (but not gross) surf shack vibe to it, which I kind of dug.  One can eat outside or inside, depending on how one feels about eating hot burgers on a hot day (I chose to eat inside).  The place is family-owned, and given that it was a family with seven boys with names all starting with the letter "S" with varying degrees of Biblicality (Seth, Shem, Shez...yeah), I'm going to go out on a limb and say they were probably Mormon.  It also seemed to be the regular lunch place for Temple patrons--lots of white shirts and ties on a Saturday afternoon--which makes sense, given that it's only 2.7 miles North of the Temple.

I ordered the Cheeseburger Combo (burger and fries) and a Diet Coke.  The whole order came to eight dollars and change--pretty reasonable for Hawaii!  The girl who waited on me was very friendly, but I kind of wish I'd waited a bit to order, because after I left, the counter was being manned by perhaps the cutest boy I have seen on this entire island.*  At any rate, I got my drink and sat down and waited for my food.  The Diet Coke was not as Diet Coke-y as I like...but maybe it was a fountain issue.  An appropriately-short time later, the girl brought my food out.  Behold:

Look at those fries.  And that fry sauce.  I was all over that fry sauce.
More evidence of the place's Mormonosity:  Fry Sauce.  I was super excited about this.  For people who have not spent any time in Utah, Fry Sauce is one part ketchup, one part mayonnaise, and one part magic.  So good.  And look:  it's garnished!  As you can see, the fries are not the typical stick fries.  They're more like little quarters of potato slices.  They were hot and the perfect balance of crispy-on-the-outside/soft-on-the-inside.  They were very nicely seasoned; my only complaint is that they were a bit too salty--next time I shall ask for less salt.

The burger was great as well!  I even will be so bold to say that it would be able to hold its own in the Boston Burger Arena (an controversial claim, it seems!).  It's definitely a lunch burger,** but it did well in all the important categories:  burger:bun ratio, structural integrity, non-greasy beef patty, yummy melty cheese!  A thing I noticed was that the burger had a lot more lettuce on it than other burgers that I've had.  There were bites that were in danger of being a bit too "lettucey," but the texture was nice!  I highly recommend it to anyone who has any business on the North Shore, and I think that this will become my regular post-Temple lunch place!

The Kahuku Grill is located at 56-565 Kamehameha Highway in Kahuku, on the same property as the Kahuku Sugar Mill.

*You know, if you're into longish-haired tan surfer guys who are probably too young for me...and let's face it, I so am.  We eye-flirted for a good 1.2 seconds.  It was amazing.
**The difference between "lunch burger" and "dinner burger" should be clear to anyone who's ever had a conversation with me...or who has any common sense at all.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Music (Redux)

Remember when I used to post my "Top 25 Most Played" list from iTunes for everyone?  Remember how I stopped because it never changed much?  Then remember how I got a new laptop with new iTunes and could start from scratch with everything?  So without further ado, I give you my new list of the stuff I've listened to the most lately (or since I bought my laptop in April):

  1. "Hold On" (Mary Beth Maziarz)
  2. "Thursday" (Asobi Seksu)
  3. "C'est la Mort" (The Civil Wars)
  4. "Poison and Wine" (The Civil Wars)
  5. "Shake It Out" (Florence and the Machine)
  6. "21 Guns" (Original Broadway Cast of American Idiot)
  7. "Scientists" (Jeremy Messersmith)
  8. "Cathedrals" (Jump, Little Children)
  9. "Homeward Bound" (BYU Singers and BYU Concert Choir)
  10. "I Want You Back" (The Civil Wars)
  11. "My Love" (Irie Love)*
  12. "Organ Donor" (Jeremy Messersmith)
  13. "The Call" (Regina Spektor)
  14. "Gravity" (Sarah Bareilles)
  15. "Falling" (The Civil Wars)
  16. "Across the Universe" (Fiona Apple)**
  17. "Falling Slowly" (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)
  18. "Toussaint Grey, First In Life and Death" (Jeremy Messersmith)
  19. "Knots" (Jeremy Messersmith)
  20. "A Girl, A Boy, and a Graveyard" (Jeremy Messersmith)
  21. "We Get On" (Kate Nash)
  22. "Skeleton Song" (Kate Nash)
  23. "Fade Into You" (Mazzy Star)
  24. "Timshel" (Mumford & Sons)
  25. "Come Home" (One Republic)
Again, I'm not ashamed of any of these songs!  As you may be able to tell, I discovered The Civil Wars recently.  I'm in love.  Also, I've definitely been in a very Jeremy Messersmith mood lately, but I defy you to find anyone with better death songs.

*Yeah, we listen to reggae in Hawaii.
**Yes, Laura, another Beatles cover that you'll probably hate.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Forced Fun and Fancy Parties

Or, "How I Spent the First Two-Thirds of My Weekend"

As is tradition (apparently), yesterday we had our JPAC company picnic.  Now, when a military organization sends out an invitation, they send out an invitation.  See below for the first part of the first of many pages outlining our specific orders:

One should note section 3a, especially the phrases "official duty location" and "[all] deviations from this guidance must be approved by the Deputy Commander."  This was mandatory fun, everyone!  The rule was that if you didn't want to go, you could either take official leave or go to work for the full day.  Now, I hate fun as much as the next incredibly dull person, but I'm wise enough to know that eating free food by the beach and getting to go home at 2:00 (or 1400, if you're military) is still preferable over going to work for nine hours.  So I went to the picnic.  It was fun for awhile.  The food was good and I walked by the ocean and gathered some "treasures from the sea"* until I stubbed my toe on a rock and had to go tend to the bleeding lest I contract some type of ocean disease.  Getting to go home in the middle of the day was pretty awesome; I had to keep reminding myself that it was a Friday and not the Saturday it felt like.  I spent a bit of the rest of the day at the mall (where I ate a pistachio macaroon at the Pacific Place Tea Garden--yum!) and then went home to clean my new-old chair.

Clearly, a Friday of fun with co-workers was just not enough!  I write tonight after having just returned from a fancy party at my old professor/current supervisor's house.  I got the invitation for this event Monday, as did some other co-workers:  "cocktails and dinner," it said!  My first thought:  whatever will I wear?  My second thought:  wow, I'm definitely not in grad school anymore!  A party at the "boss's" house!  This is how one moves up in life!  Thankfully, it turned out to not be the formal affair I had envisioned:  it was an outdoor gathering with many people from work and some not--no cause for worrying about which fork to use and the proper technique of buttering rolls.**  I felt slightly overdressed in my black-and-white fifties-esque "favorite" dress, but I didn't stand out like a sore thumb, either.  This is not to say that the event wasn't fancy--oh, how fancy it was!  Everything was so beautifully presented--no paper plates and plastic cutlery here!  The hosts definitely went to great lengths and it was much appreciated.  Of course, the food was fantastic!  Grilled steak and vegetables and hors d'oeuvres (this really delicious crab dip, among other things) and strawberry shortcakes and soda in glass bottles---look at me, I'm sounding like an orphan from the 1930s experiencing decadence for the first time!  And all the exclamation marks!  I guess my naïvete about such things is a good quality--better than jaded sighs of "ugh, not another one of these work parties," right?

At any rate, it was a fine weekend, and it's only Saturday night!

*I was feeling very Sarah, Plain and Tall as I did this; I intend to mail some of these "treasures" (shells, coral, and the like) to some of my "mainland" friends.
**You only butter the part you're eating at the very moment--cutting it in half and eating it like a butter sandwich is a terrible faux pas!  I usually avoid this awkwardness altogether by eating the entire roll at once.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Self-Doubt and Affirmation

Why am I taking the GRE again?

The answer I usually give people is that I'm applying to some PhD programs that want scores more recent than the ones that I have.

Is that really why, though?  Am I also trying to prove something?  And if so, what?  That I'm hard-working enough to study every weekend and get a really good score?  That I was worthy to live in academically-oriented Boston?  That I'm just as smart as all of my PhD-getting/having friends?

All of these doubts brought their friends, worries, along for the ride:  what if my scores are only in the 90th percentile?  What if I only get a 4.5 on the Analytical Writing?  Will everyone I know just shake their heads and say, "wow...I thought you were better than that"?

I needed a new philosophy, a mantra, if you will.  So here it is:
  • My worth as a human being is not determined by my GRE scores.
  • The people who liked/dated me in the past did not like/date me because of my GRE scores.*
  • Similarly, people who currently like me will not stop liking me if I don't have amazing GRE scores (right?).
  • Doing well on standardized tests is not an indicator of inherent intelligence.
  • GRE scores are only a tiny portion of the grad school application.  I think the 3.99 GPA from my Master's Program will be much more outstanding in the eyes of the admissions committees.
I will recite this mantra for the next three weeks, until I take the test, even if I don't believe it.

*This sentiment totally reminds me of the scene in "Center Stage" where Maureen shows up at Jim's house crying and asking, "how much of what you liked about me was because I was a ballet dancer, and how much was because I was me?"  He just hugs her, but if I had written the movie, I would have had him say, "Oh honey, I didn't like the fact that you were a ballet dancer at all!"

Sometimes I Buy Furniture

I'll never have the amazing photo-taking skills flaunted by other furniture-liking people.
It all started when I noticed I wasn't sleeping well.  I was going to bed early and waking up early, but I was always very sleepy in the mornings.  I then realized that my sleepiness was being caused by two factors:  1) that I wasn't stretching enough in the mornings to wake myself up, and 2) I'm spending too much time in my bed doing things that are not sleeping.  Beds are for sleeping--not for eating breakfast (or dinner), blogging, taking GRE practice sets, and watching internet TV!   I decided I would buy a chair for my bedroom.  My roommate had bought one of those dorm chair things for her room and I thought I'd do the same, until I saw this chair (pictured above) advertised for a mere $20 on my apartment's bulletin board!

A sweet little old lady was moving with her husband back to Colorado (or "the Mainland" as they call it here, because apparently the other 98% of the country is all the same) and was selling some things that she didn't want to move.  When I came to her apartment to pick it up and give her the $20, she said how pretty I was and how she was glad that her chair was going to a nice person (aw...).  When I took the chair up to my apartment, I noticed it was in definite need of some work.  (I should have taken a "before" picture, but you know I never think of these things ahead of time.)  I steamed and Febrezed the upholstery as it was smelling a little less-than-fresh (they had a dog in the house), and I attacked the wood with some Old English lemon oil.  It's now shiny, lemony-fresh, and beautiful!  I do have quite the knack for salvaging old things, I must say (another story later, probably).  I intend to do much reading, blogging, and journal-writing in my new-old chair.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


There were parts that were kind of dirty.  I thought the "Paradise Lost" sign was very appropriate on this street that smelled very much unlike tropical flowers and sea breezes.  

 There were also parts that were very clean.  Just look at all these brooms!

I felt like a giant white sore thumb in Chinatown.  I didn't want to far into any of the shops because foreign language situations make me very intimidated, though I found some cool jewelry shops that I would like to investigate further one day.  Also, I called my dad while I was there and he was like, "get out of there!  they're going to kidnap you and sell you into white slavery!"  And I was like, "it's twelve-thirty in the afternoon and I don't think that's how things work here."  Silly parents.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Growing Up, Growing Old, and "Other"

Signs that I'm a grownup:
  • I totally rock at walking in high heels and getting in and out of cars in pencil skirts.
  • I have a job in my field that pays me lots of dollars and requires me to figure out how to pay my own taxes.
  • I know how to cook for myself.
  • I've nearly mastered the art of knowing when to share my feelings and when to just keep stuff to myself.
Signs that I'm growing old:
  • I keep finding grey hairs on my head.  
  • Lumbar support has suddenly become a thing that's important to me.*
  • I care about fiber content more than I care about calorie content.
  • I can't ogle the beefy military guys at the gym without thinking that they're all probably too young for me.
Signs that I still have some more growing to do:
  • I can't drive a car.
  • I still sleep in a twin bed.
  • Even though I know how to cook for myself, my dinnertime activities usually just consist of shoving Macaroni and Cheese into my mouth while sitting on my twin bed and watching "Smallville" reruns.

*On that note, there's a lot of office-switching going on at work right now, so yesterday I was able to get a new chair and it's seriously the best thing that's ever happened to me.  My quadratus lumborum is so happy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pardon My (Evil) Appearance

[NOTE/UPDATE:  Apparently if you're not reading too closely it might not be apparent that the thing I drank wasn't really made of coffee!!  I only appeared evil, friends!]

When I'm a supervillain (and let's face it, I'm on that path), I'm going to drink Double Chocolaty Chip Frappucino® Blended Cremes all the time just so people will look at me and be like, "wow, she must be evil!"

Actually, I won't.  They're only somewhat delicious, and that's not delicious enough to be worth the fat and calories.  I had to walk my evil-looking self three miles home today to not feel bad about drinking it.

In that game/poll/conversation-type-thing that Mormons do, the "if you were given a free pass to break one commandment, what commandment would you break?" thing, everyone always picks the Law of Chastity, but not I.*  I would totally pick drinking some delicious blended frozen chocolate coffee thing.**  I think this is why the Blended Creme has always piqued my curiosity whenever I would go into Starbucks--sinful deliciousness without the sin!  I finally ordered it today after feeling "on top of the world" and "devil may care" after buying my bus pass.  Like I said, it was okay, but not life changing.

So maybe that's not the sin I would pick after all, but I can't think of anything else appealing!  I guess I am a goody-two-shoes after all.

*I could go on about the reason for this, but that's a topic for a different discussion, so for the purposes of my talking about frozen coffee-free drinks, let's just say that I guess I'm really just not rebellious enough.
**Or tithing.  Seriously--why would people have premarital sex when they could save 10% of their income every month?

"Branching Out" and Other Endeavors

I've added a new goal to my list of goals toward which I'm striving in an attempt to occupy my non-working hours:  I am going to re-learn German!

I used to be high-school-fluent in German:  I aced all of my quizzes and even did very well in multi-school language competitions, but after I took all of the German classes in high school I never had any opportunity to speak it again.

What good were all of these language courses (I also took one semester of high-school French and two semesters of college Spanish) apart from padding my GPA (and, in the case of Spanish, working in the Chinese food business)?  Sure, I can throw out phrases here and there, whether to lament my Heimweh or exclaim, "Ach! du Grüne!" in exasperation with someone, but I've never needed to communicate much in German.  I think my wanting to re-learn is fueled by my plan/hope/idea to travel through Europe next summer.  This way, when I go to Germany and Austria and the non-French parts of Switzerland, I can speak the native tongue.

I don't want to learn the traditional way, though, because I did that for three years in high school.  To be sure, I need to brush up on grammar, and I have a "German Verbs" book for that, but I'd like to do it through immersion, by reading things in German.  Too bad the Harry Potter books are way more expensive in non-English.  I guess Max und Moritz it is!

Cautioning children everywhere that if you misbehave, you'll get eaten by ducks.
In other branching-out-related-news, I bought a bus pass today!  I did this because I want to branch out and potentially do things after work, and also because my roommate with the car wants to branch out and do things after work.  The Hawaii bus system and I are on speaking terms now, so I'm optimistic that I'll have some pretty interesting adventures this month, or at the very least, some fun trips to the mall.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pleasant Vices and Annoying Virtues

Since I'm working for the man government, I had to fill out this very, very long survey making a list of everyone I've ever met who could verify that I'm not a terrorist and answering a bunch of questions about whether I've been involved in any criminal activity, sold any drugs, took afternoon tea with any foreign spies, or chained myself to any trees chanting "We Shall Overcome."  As I was checking "No" to every single one of these questions, what I should have been thinking was, gee whiz, am I a brilliantly upstanding American!, but what I was actually thinking was, wow, is my life boring.

I know I'm supposed to "cherish virtue" and all, and I'm glad that I don't live a life riddled with scandal, but what will my kids think when I have no stories about my forays into sex, drugs, and rock and roll?  Just to prove that I'm not the straight-laced, buttoned-up, uptight square that I appear to be, I'm going to talk about my vices!
  • I took up secondhand smoking for two weeks one time.  I was staying with this woman who smoked and riding to work with an in-car smoker.  At the end of the two weeks, I was kind of used to it, but it was definitely easy to quit.
  • I'm a caffeine drinker.  No espressos or Red Bull or anything, but I do enjoy the sting of a cold Diet Coke traveling down my esophagus.
  • Ooh--gluttony!  I know, I know, but Alex, you're so tiny and trim, you're thinking, but if there are brownies, I will eat them at a disproportionately quick rate.
  • Hmm...what else?  I kissed a boy and I liked it?
  • Sometimes I wear shirts twice before I wash them (but I guess that's water conservation, so...)? list of "vices" is pretty short.  This was the worst attempt to prove anything ever.  I eat my vegetables; I go to bed early; I listen to music at a reasonable volume; I'm probably going to die a virgin; I floss.  I guess I'm not that kind of girl, after all.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Debutante Slouch

When I was still living under the rule of my mother (and let's be honest, I kind of still am), she would always look at me standing or walking and command in her very German way, "Posture!"  I try to stand up straight, to do my very best "Top Model" walk in high heels, but sometimes it's just too much of a chore.  I used to worry about this:  was my slouching unattractive in some way?  Fortunately, not long later, I read the Betsy-Tacy books and learned about a thing called the Debutante Slouch.

This is from a 1920's fashion magazine, or so says Google Image Search.
The Debutante Slouch is the languid pose of one who is just too exhausted from being beautiful and sophisticated all the time.  It's usually accompanied by blasé expressions, sighs, anemia, or complaints about prohibition and/or women's suffrage.

I went to a work party this afternoon, and while standing in a group, I thought*, oh no! I should stand up straight, but sometimes "straight" means rigid and awkward and uncomfortable, and let's face it, it's a social gathering so I'm already contributing enough rigid, awkward, and uncomfortable to the situation, so I debutante-slouched.  Hand on the hip, pigeon toes, and all.  I wish I had a picture of myself in this position, but I didn't think of it until just now, the time when I'm already in my pajamas and therefore not feeling very sophisticated at all.  

Perhaps when Laura Taylor (the Tacy to my Betsy) visits me in the spring, we shall have a Debutante Slouch photo shoot, and then eat onion sandwiches and sing Annie Laurie.  

*Because I had plenty of time to think as I wasn't really very active in the conversation.  I'm not great at jumping into conversations in any case, but they were all talking about movies I hadn't seen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

"I Know Your Eyes Are Just for Me, But..."*

One of the downsides to living in a place that's hot all the time is that I sweat a lot.  And when I sweat a lot, my feet start to smell really bad.  It's awful.  I mean, when I was living in temperate climates, I had the occasional pair of shoes that, when worn barefoot, didn't have the best reputation for making my feet smell awesome, but it's starting to become more prevalent and it's a problem.

I was always a stinky-footed toddler.  I think it's because my parents always put me in the little footy pajamas with the nonslip rubber soles that didn't breathe.  But toddlers with stinky feet are expected--even endearing!  When one is in one's late twenties, one's feet are expected to smell better.  Not like flowers; I mean, they're still feet, but just better.

At least I have nobody to whom my feet need to be in close proximity.  Nevertheless, maybe I'd best invest in some Odor Eaters.

*Extra credit to anyone who knows the connection between the post title and the topic.