Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sanctuary

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.
 Laura: YYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!
  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 his...ahem...man 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 people...so 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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quarter

It's September 18th (well, at least it still is here).  I started my job on June 18th which means that I've been here for three months.  That's twenty-five percent of my time here.  I have nine months left.  I was going to make some comment about how if I got pregnant today, the baby would not be born in Hawaii, but then I remembered that they don't let you fly in your third trimester,* so I can't make that statement for another three months.

But still!  I'm one-fourth of the way closer to being somewhere that isn't here.  That's a good thing, because I think this is going to be the year that ages me.


*Unless you're Emilie de Ravin on LOST, which does take place in Hawaii after all.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Restaurant Revisit Review: Kahuku Grill

I learned a valuable lesson today:  when you go to a place where the burger is great, always get the burger.

I went to the Kahuku Grill for post-Temple lunch again today.  This time I got the "World Famous" Coconut-Macadamia Shrimp.  I will say that it was not bad; It was fine, actually, but I just didn't see what the fuss was all about.

For $12, you get five shrimp, a salad, a side of rice, and a little cup of sweet-chili sauce.  The value is good:  it's something that could definitely be shared between two people.  The salad was a little wilty, as are most leafy things that are served alongside hot things, and was topped with dried cranberries, crispy chow mein noodles, and some type of sweet-and-sour dressing.  The "lightly seasoned" rice was just sticky rice topped with the same slightly-too-salty seasoning that goes on the fries.  Now for the main course, the shrimp:  it was hot (deep-fried), crisp, and tasted very much like coconut.  I'm fine with coconut, but it overwhelmed the rest of the shrimp, so much so that if I had been blindfolded and they had told me it was chicken, I would have believed it.  The chili sauce added moisture and a tiny bit of spicy heat, but not much else.

Now I know that there are a lot of haters out there reading this and being like, "oh yeah?  could you have done it better?"  To them I say, "yes.  I could do it better, and here's how I would do it:"

Instead of deep-frying shrimp coated with coconut stuff, I would have pan-cooked the shrimp until they were slightly under-done, and then topped them with butter, brown sugar, coarsely-chopped macadamia nuts, coconut (reduced by about a third from Kahuku's formula), and a little bit of red chili flakes.  Then I would broil the whole thing for a couple minutes.  So there.  Hmm...I kind of want to try that at home sometime.

Don't worry, Kahuku Grill, just because I can make better Coco-Maca-Nut Shrimp than you can (in theory), I'll still come back to you.

I'll just always get the burger.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sad Songs, They Say So Much

I haven't kept it a secret that Hawaii isn't my happiest place.  For various reasons that don't take years of psychological study to deconstruct, I spend a great deal of time being very sad.  I've gone through the stages of grief--replacing "acceptance" with the more pessimistic "resignation," of course--but grief is still there.  While any normal person would try to force themselves out of such a situation, look to the bright side, spank her Inner Moppet...whatever, I choose a different path:  I make a soundtrack.

A lot goes into putting together this kind of playlist, you know.  What actually constitutes a "sad song?"  Is it a song with a sad plot?  A threnody?  Is it a song that just reminds you of a really sad time in your life?  My operational definition is ineffable, it seems--Gestalt it is, then.  So here, for your listening pleasure, and in no particular order, I give you the eleven* saddest songs I can think of without spending an unreasonable amount of time on this.  (I chose to not include any tracks from operas or musicals, as that wouldn't be fair to any of the other genres.)
  1. "Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye" (Beth Nielson Chapman) - I'll admit that the only place I've ever heard this song played is on "Dawson's Creek," but just try to listen to it without getting wistful.
  2. "Last Request" (Paolo Nutini) - This song is probably technically about breakup sex; but breakups are sad, and this sadness is reflected in Paolo's voice.  Also, the version in the link is the only time where I was like, "okay, I can buy the fact that this guy is from Scotland."
  3. "The Weakness in Me" (Joan Armatrading) - Ignore the thought of Heath Ledger stalking Julia Stiles as she pretends to play the guitar and listen to this sadness.  Also, this song is about infidelity, but she's clearly sad about it, so it's okay.
  4. "Full of Grace" (Sarah McLachlan) - If I were actually ranking these, this might be the number one sad song.  It also took a lot of willpower not to make this a list of only Sarah McLachlan songs.  She pretty much is the master of songs to play on repeat whilst looking out the window and crying.  As such, here are her runners-up:  "Do What You Have To Do," "Good Enough," and "Wintersong."
  5. "The Nicest Thing" (Kate Nash) - I love so many things about this:  the simplicity of the lyrics, the plaintive tone in Kate's voice, the strings.  Probably my favorite sad unrequited love song.
  6. "Scientists" (Jeremy Messersmith) - This is one of those songs that's both inherently sad and sad because I relate to it so very much.  (Jeremy Messersmith runner-up:  "A Girl, a Boy, and a Graveyard")
  7. "Falling" (The Civil Wars) - You all know how in love I've recently fallen with The Civil Wars.  Even if this song weren't about what it's about, it would still make you cry because it's that darn beautiful.  (Runner-up:  "Poison and Wine")
  8. "You Don't Know Me" (Various Artists) - I had to include at least one of the standards on here!
  9. "Delicate" (Damien Rice) - As extra-diegetic music goes, this one is a little over-used, but I feel that it's a good sad song.
  10. "Lady" (Regina Spektor) - This song isn't particularly sad in the sense that it makes me want to cry, but I like everything that it does musically.  It's maybe the most threnodious song on my iTunes
  11. "I Shall Believe" (Sheryl Crow) - Remember when Sheryl Crow was awesome?  You know, before she dated Lance Armstrong and before she turned into a pop star?  I like this ballad quite a bit.  
Don't get all worked up if your favorite "sad song" wasn't on this list or if your operational definition of "sad song" isn't the same as mine.  Again, there's too much complexity that you either have to exclude many things or include every thing, but if you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go cry in a dark room while listening to all of these songs.


*Because I originally published it with ten and then thought of the eleventh one and felt too bad to bump any of the original ten.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why I Just Might Rock the GRE

I listen to lots of musical theatre soundtracks:


Chimerical:  C-H-I-M-E-R-I-C-A-L.  Wildly fanciful, highly unrealistic. 
 ("The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee)

I watch stupid teen movies:

DARCY:  Bring on the neophytes, the tyros, and the dilettantes.
("Bring It On")

I remember the dumb song sung to the tune of "Camptown Races" from that one really awful show on Nickelodeon called "Caitlin's Way":

"Area equals 'pi r-squared,' doo dah, doo dah!"

I was able to interpret the data on our electric bill and understand why the amount due was higher than last month even though we used less electricity this month.

I can deconstruct arguments on ridiculously drawn-out Facebook fights.

Who says studying can only be done with a Kaplan book?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Articles of (Internet) War

I'm a very non-confrontational person, in person, that is.  However, I've gotten more feisty in my old age, and for that reason, I'm thankful I have the internet as a medium for my argumentative nature.  As I've recently witnessed an epic one which addressed topics such as sexism, adultery, the great "letter of the law/spirit of the law" debate, and "the appearance of evil," I have found it necessary to put forth a code, a set of rules by which to angrily type.  For the approval of the people, I present, the Articles of Internet War:
  1. Follow the proper procedure.  Don't just come in, guns blazing, and attack someone.  If there's a prompt (in most cases, the original post/article), respond to that first, and then wait until you're officially invited to the battle (usually, by someone saying, "you're incorrect for feeling that way, so-and-so").
  2. Emoticons fix everything!  It's totally okay to call someone a Pharisee or a "self-hating misogynist" if you add a smiley face!
  3. Don't infer beyond the text.*  If the person you're currently attacking hasn't actually called someone a "self-hating misogynist", don't be like, "you just called so-and-so a 'self-hating misogynist,'" because they didn't.  
  4. When ambivalent, pick the side with the better grammar.  Sometimes, you just want to be a part of the fight, even if you don't care one way of the other.  It's much easier to create an argument when it's not based on run-on sentences interspersed with "tho," "prolly," and "idunno."
  5. That said, don't play the grammar card until absolutely necessary.  It's a low blow and is often irrelevant to the argument.  Basically, when you reply, "yeah?  well, if your comment were a GRE analytical writing essay it would get a 2!", you're basically saying, "I've run out of further points to make."  
  6. Find an ally.  It's awesome when you write something that makes an awesome point and then someone "likes" that point or responds with an "Amen, sista!  Preach it!"  Be that person for someone else, preferably someone who isn't already your friend, as it contributes to your objectivity.
  7. When people start quoting scriptures or General Authorities, the gloves have officially come off.  This one's probably something that applies more to the Mormon crowd (so, 98% of my blog readers), I think, but when someone goes all, "well, here's something that someone said in General Conference once that supports my argument, so not only am I right, I'm more righteous than you, too!", the fighting has gone to a new level.  If scripture mastery wasn't your thing, tread lightly!
  8. Don't fly off the handle.  Civility is of utmost importance.  You're not going to make a valid point if you call people stupid or use tons of profanity.  Even if your opponents don't come over to your (obviously correct) way of thinking, they can at least respect the fact that you kept a cool head and impeccable spelling throughout the argument.
  9. Know when to hold 'em.  Have an awesome retort that you just have to use?  Let it simmer just a bit.  A more perfect opportunity may come along for it to make the maximum effect.
  10. Know when to fold 'em.  Some people are stubborn and will never accept anything you say as legitimate.  Eventually, the thing is going to die down to the point where it'll just be two people still going at each other days later.  You don't want to be one of those two people, so know when to bow out gracefully.
That's all I've come up with so far.  I'm open to amendments, so please comment!  


*Also good advice for the GRE reading comprehension section.  I am so going to rock this test next week!