Tell Me the Truth – is it Love or just Paris?

I wrote this at two in the afternoon, and I probably should be working but I rushed through my usual 15-day workload down to ten days so I can have a long vacation, something that I missed this summer.

Just last week, I redeemed a trip I won from my company holiday raffle – a trip to Nantucket for two. It was a short weekend trip, it was raining and cold but it was a good break from my job. I haven’t had a break from work for pretty much the past ten months, and our payroll coordinator never fails to remind me of my eighteen vacation days unclaimed.

You can see more pictures here: https://goo.gl/photos/QaDFukXqmRzmyXmh9

A long overdue trip is in place. There were talks of maybe going to Japan, but plans with a friend fell through which left my boyfriend and I with ten days of vacations set aside but nowhere to go. He was the one who actually suggested Paris, and I said yes without any hesitation.

So here I am, at work, could not focus on anything, anticipating the plane ride to Europe 🙂

Je suis perdu tu n’es plus dans ma rue
Cette nuit tu as disparu de ma vue

Day 3: Seven Days Until Thirty-Two

Will be turning 32 soon and for the next seven days leading up to my birthday, I’m going to try to write down any lessons I may have learned from the past year when I was 31.

The past year was great for traveling. I traveled to see family, I traveled with my love, and traveled with my closest friend.

I’ve said it before and will probably say it again – had I had more money, I’ll probably travel more. And if you think about it, the only expensive purchases would be the plane ticket and the hotel – everything else can be on the cheap. Food doesn’t have to be expensive to be good, and how much shirts that say “I’ve been to blank and all I got was this lousy shirt”? All you need to do is make memories and maybe take pictures to keep as a reminder of the good times.

I haven’t done any traveling this year but two are already planned – a Hawaii trip to attend my aunt’s wedding and to be followed shortly, if not directly, of my brother’s graduation in Colorado. No other plans, but DC is close, and Philly even closer. There’s Boston and maybe even Montreal. I can always go to these nearby cities on a whim 🙂

New Orleans with my bestie Ryan. I was probably drunk when this picture was taken.

Philippines trip – saw my closest buddies from college. We went to a karaoke place. I did not sing.

My boyfriend Andy wanted to see some video game exhibit in DC. So we went.

Saint Louis trip – it was really fun. This was taken in the Bud brewery. We saw those horses in the Super Bowl commercial with Stevie Nicks singing Landslide.

Thanksgiving in Colorado. The three craziest of the Maes brood is in this picture.

My cousin from Kansas asked me to be her son’s godfather. I said yes and went to San Francisco first. Sounds very logical to me.

How to Avoid a Knife Attack: Visit Governors Island and Watch The Dark Knight Rises

Downtown New York City is filled with two kinds of creatures: people working the stock markets and tourists who want to see the World Trade Center site. I haven’t decided which one is more vile. But yesterday was a Saturday, so it was just tourists. My best bud Ryan and I wanted to check out one of the islands often ignored. More ignored than Staten Island. South of Manhattan is a relatively unknown island, Governors Island. It’s actually closer to Brooklyn, separated by the Buttermilk Channel – which sounds both yummy and disgusting. It’s a quick ten-minute ferry ride from Manhattan to get to the island.

From what I gathered, the Dutch bought the island from the natives, which was then taken over by the British and set aside as the governor’s residence. If I have to point out that this is how Governors Island got its name, I’m sorry for you. The Americans eventually took over and the island was fortified. A castle was built that overlooks the sea where a foreign naval attack may originate. It was turned into a prison afterwards. Many years later, the Coast Guard took over and turned the buildings in the island as residence. At some point, the Coast Guard left and the island was closed from the public. Bloomberg had it open and the island became part of the national parks.

Enough history. I’m sure Google and Wikipedia can offer better information anyway.

Ryan and I got to the island hungry and we were worried about the food situation. Food in a small patch of land surrounded by water is not too different from food served in boats and ferries – which is never good. The island had a “food court” which consists of a few food trucks lined up in between buildings. Not the same fancy food trucks you may find in Union Square that dare to make Korean food into tacos or make fancy grilled cheese sandwiches by using brie instead of processed cheese that comes in single wraps, the food is pretty much like street food. Which is to say it’s actually good if you’re hungry and have no regard for hygiene or standards. Ryan and I were hungry with no regard for hygiene or standards. We finished out barbeque chicken, yellow rice and sweet plantains that Ryan refused to share with me and had ice softees. Ryan had vanilla and chocolate twist which made her cough, and I had vanilla dipped in cherry. I’m convinced that the cherry coating they use is partially made of wax. Think about it – the ice cream truck keeps the cherry syrup in a warm container where it remains liquid, and yet dipping cold ice cream to it hardens it almost instantly. And that shit tastes like wax with a hint of cherry flavoring.

We headed over to the sculpture garden where you’d find a face replica of The Statue of Liberty sticking out of the ground. It offers a point of view you won’t see from the real statue as you can’t get the same vantage point if you visit Liberty Island. Lady Liberty does not have boogers.

Not far is a huge tv set where one can go “inside” and be a tv star. Ryan did her best Vitamin Water endorsement. To book her, call me – I’m her manager.

There was also a mini golf area but I haven’t actually figured out if this was for adults or just for kids. I don’t play golf, nor the mini version, so I didn’t care to find out.

We walked back pass the food court and went to one of the buildings that is used for exhibits and stores. This building, which I assume is a similar layout as the rest on this particular street, had three sections. Each section has three floors and each floor has two doors leading to apartments. Each apartment has two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a living space. They are rather small but I would kill to get an apartment similar to those.

We went to one section which is basically a store. They have a collection of handmade jewelry, screen printed shirts and tote canvas bags, artworks and other knick knacks.

The next section has an exhibit of old costumes that are basically rejects from museums because they are tattered and torn due to negligence and time. Ryan: “Of course there are neglected, museums didn’t take them to be preserved.” That girl made a good point – it’s like talking to Rain Man sometimes. There was a wedding gown in the living room surrounded by peeling paint chips from the walls of the old building. It was eerie and beautiful and it felt like New Orleans.

The last section has more artworks – sculptures and watercolor painting made en plein air of views and sites of the island.

We walked along the edge of the island through old buildings that look like were once lived in. There was a garage door left open with light coming in from the other side through windows covered in dirt and dust. It created a rather smokey light inside the garage that was so pretty, Instagram should create a filter like this for their app.

By the dock is a building that smells like a hospital. Ryan, being a nurse, can verify such odor of sanitized disease. We skipped the building coming in because of hunger fully discussed a few paragraphs earlier. There is an exhibit going on about graphics, which was surprisingly interesting. There were print ads, posters, and books about and of cool graphic designs (sidebar: I detest the word “cool” because it’s a lazy way of saying something is interesting without expanding on the idea – but I am being lazy right now. What? I’m not a paid writer).

***

For some reason, I am not excited about seeing Man of Steel. Every time I see Henry Cavill, I think of my boyfriend’s brother who I think is a dead ringer of Cavill. I can’t be trusted as I’ve seen him a total of three times including one New Year’s Eve when he spent most of the time in a different room playing video games.

Man of Steel is directed by the same guy who directed the latest Batman movie, Christopher Nolan. The third installment of the trilogy being The Dark Knight Rises which Ryan hasn’t seen, so we decided to see it. Also, we missed the Bourne movie by ten minutes.

Am I alone when I say Anne Hathaway did a great job? I feel dirty saying that. The dirty dive bar scene really did it for me, when she pretended she was an innocent bystander. I am not of course saying she did a great Catwoman. I still have issues with that. You can’t just give someone cat ears and call her Catwoman.  The character she played could have been anyone if you think about it, I don’t think it has to be Selina Kyle.

Tom Brady as Bane did one thing: give a few guys a Halloween costume this fall. And it’s really easy, I may do it myself: grab a brown leather coat, hold on to the lapels, put a black jockstrap over your head and speak in a sing-song manner with a British accent. How hard could that be? I already did my impression of Bane by just using my hands.

In a way, my greatest disappointment was really Miranda Tate. Marion Cottillard could have been a great Catwoman. I mean look at her! She already looks like a cat! She’s feline and seductive. Isn’t that the Catwoman mold? Tate being Talia as the twist was really good, but I saw it coming after Liam Neeson echoed Tate’s words in Bruce Wayne’s hallucinations. What really scared me was all her balance with nature talk – what if she ended up taking off her clothes to show a green leotard underneath and then started talking to plants? Poison Ivy was all about saving the planet, so was Miranda Tate.

Another good surprise was Blake’s legal name was Robin. Ryan almost lost her shit when she heard it. Look at Joseph Gordon-Levitt – doesn’t he look like The Riddler? I think that was a casting opportunity missed.

***

Before reaching the movie theater in Times Square, Ryan and I took the 1 train from Battery Park. We got out of the subway on the corner of 41st and Seventh Avenue by a Red Lobster when a bunch of people started running around the same corner. My first thought was “Lady, there are no sale worth running to” and then I realized she was running AWAY from something. Around the corner, I saw about ten cops, guns out of holsters. I look ahead of me, and I realized that not more than twenty feet away from was a guy brandishing a ten-inch butcher knife. He could have ran towards my direction, it was not much of a feat. My only consolation is I was actually behind a crowd of people. With their cellphones out. Taking pictures and videos of a desperate guy trying to get away from the cops. It made me sick to think that it is very possible that these people are also waiting for the worst to happen, and that they can take pictures of it, take videos, and put them up on Youtube, and on Facebook. I hoped that I was wrong. But I wasn’t.

Read more here: New York Times.

A Country Mouse visits A City Mouse

I spent Fourth of July weekend up in the family ranch back in Colorado to attend my cousin Dan’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding – very small, just close friends and family. Hay bales and planks were involved, camping gear and a double-wide trailer newly installed. From a city boy’s view, it was a hicks-ville but from a mountaineer’s eye, it was just pretty. Totally enjoyed it, and totally worth the hundred some dollars to fly from NY.
But aside from the holiday weekend and family wedding, my brother Saul also turned sixteen earlier this March. I have a long standing promise to each of my siblings that in the summer after they turn sixteen, I’ll fly them out to NY and spend a week with me in the city. To my youngest sister Bella who’s turning two this year – we have yet to talk and I have yet to make the same promise. This can be a possible loop hole when you turn sixteen.
We flew the same day to NY – my boyfriend Andy and I in one flight, and Saul on a separate flight. I tried to get the same flight but no seats were available. When we checked in, I made sure I spoke with the airline agent (and I did one of those I-just-glanced-at-your-name-tag-I-WILL-mention-your-name-if-shit-goes-down moves) to let them know that my brother was flying by himself. He had a connecting flight in Atlanta, and that was the only time he would be totally by himself. I’m not saying he’s not bright, he can read signs and all, but the kid is from the mountains – Atlanta airport is huge compared to Colorado Springs Airport’s twelve gates.
I arrived in LaGuardia around 7pm and let Andy go home while I stayed to wait for my brother’s delayed flight. He did not land until 11:30pm and we did not get to my apartment until half past midnight.
As any tourist in NY should do, first thing we did was go to Liberty Island. It’s a very historic site. It’s where Magneto used Rogue to power a machine that would turn the leaders of the United Nations into mutants. We spent most of the time following a group of young French girls and their chaperone. I bet Saul was thinking I wasn’t aware of what he was doing – I am very aware. He thinks he’s so slick.

We were trying to take a picture of the couple making out by the railing across from us.


We also went to The Natural History Museum. He took some pretty cool pictures of the dioramas, and of me posing next to dinosaurs. My Lady Gaga impressions were very useful – raise your paws up, little monsters. Since we were already in the area, we headed to Central Park and checked out Strawberry Field – when CDs first came out, I remember my Dad bringing compilation CDs and we would listen to The Beatles over and over all day.

We had dinner at Vynl which was in Chelsea. I’ve never seen my brother so uncomfortable! We were surrounded by rather outlandish gay guys, and it’s just something he’s never seen before. At one point, when I was going to the restroom, he actually said “don’t leave me by myself.” Poor kid. So I left him by himself and he wasn’t devoured by gay men. That was a teachable moment.
We hit the art museums in one day. We started at the Museum of Modern Art and showed him the three paintings that made me move to NY. We followed MoMA with the Guggenheim. I think he was more interested with the architecture than the art works inside. Though there was one work that got us both perplexed – a room covered in $100,000-worth of one dollar bills. A few blocks down was The Metropolitan Museum of Art and stayed in line for almost an hour to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit.

On our way to the Met, we saw this being sold on the street - reminded me of Grandma!


My good friend Ryan wanted to take Saul to the Bronx Zoo. I’ve actually been there only once before, and it was with Ryan as well. The zoo was fun, but nothing compared to the commute to the Bronx. It was a weekend so there were some train issues. At one point, we had to take a shuttle bus, and there was a crazy guy in the bus. I could feel Saul’s heart beating like a drum. The crazy had no shoes, and he kept yelling at everyone. I didn’t mind because I’m used to it, but when crazy guy put his hands in his pants, that was when I grabbed my brother by his hand because I would want to know where he is when I start defending him from a pervert with my free arm doing jabbing motions despite the lack of a shiv.

If they are undiscovered - how do they know it's forty for every one?

We went to the wax museum in Times Square – it was pricey to get in, but after seeing what’s inside, I decided it was totally worth. I’ll even add it to my list of where to bring tourists. The wax models were amazing as it is, but they also had a 15-minute 4D experience of the movie Happy Feet. You basically watch a 3D movie but you also “feel” what was going on in the movie. We got sprayed with water, poked on the back, saw bubbles. It was stupidly fun and I will do it again.

Saul with Jennifer Lopez. I told him to squeeze her ass, he wouldn't.


Was telling Woody Allen my idea for his next movie.


The last thing we did during his stay was go to the Empire State Building. I typically do that first when I take visitors out to show the city and what to see and expect but I figured I shake things up a bit. I’d like to think he was impressed by the city, and I felt proud showing him MY city.
He told me he wanted to come back, and he asked how much the plane tickets were so he can find a job and save up for a trip. It’s cute, but I don’t know if he’ll actually go through with it. We talked about our sister Angel who is next in line for the sixteenth-birthday-gift, and how I’m not going to let her travel the same way he did. I asked him if he can maybe drive her to Denver, that way, she won’t have a connecting flight and just fly direct from Colorado to New York. When Saul got back in Colorado, my sister called me and there was panic in her voice: “Saul told me you won’t let me fly by myself and that he’s coming with me when I come visit you. IS THAT TRUE?!” After calming her down, she asked me what we can do in New York. She wants to start planning for our trip. Three years premature.

CVS: A Food Porn Love Affair

A little over a month ago, Andy and I met with the happiest couple I know, Steven and Yeli. We met up for shrimp tacos in a wine bar down Broome called Ten Bells but the bar changed chefs and they don’t offer the dish anymore. We drowned our sorrows with their house wine, and ate olives, cheeses and empanadas. Conversation was mainly about food, because they were doing this binge-eating situation that I’m assuming they read from Tim Ferris’ book The 4-Hour Body. We also talked about how much we all love traveling to nearby cities like Philadelphia and Washington DC. We left the bar hardly tipsy and had cupcakes from Baby Cakes which was just across the street from the bar. We all had a cupcake and shared one cookie ice cream sandwich. We then started to walk down Chinatown to walk off the food and wine, while talking about good bad movies. I honestly can’t remember who said it, but someone mentioned crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m pretty sure that at this point, it was past 10:30 at night, and no one thought NO was the logical answer so everyone started walking towards the bridge. It was actually a lovely night, weather-wise. Halfway over the East River, IHOP was mentioned. We high-tailed it to IHOP, which was open 24 hours. The amount of food we ate was bordering immoral – different syrups, chicken and steaks, waffles and pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausages. We actually walked it off again by crossing the bridge a second time. And when we got to the City Hall, we shared a biscuit-sized strawberry shortcake.

From Chinatown to IHOP in Brooklyn

From Chinatown to IHOP in Brooklyn

This one-night of eating, talking and walking was a prelude to last weekend’s shenanigans.
The four of went to Washington DC for basically a food-tour. We met up Friday afternoon at the Megabus stop on 9th Avenue and got to the nation’s capital around 8pm. We went straight to the hotel on M street and decided we wanted to eat (surprise). We looked online for a burger joint since it seemed it was the four of us were craving for. We found a placed called Funxion that served amazing burgers. To top it, it’s one of those healthy places that uses organic ingredients and yet their menu is not high-priced. We shared a plate of chips and guacamole – the chips by the way were pita cut in triangles then toasted.
Interestingly enough, after having the meal, all we talked about was getting snacks as we walked back to the hotel. We passed by a CVS and that’s when the monster awoke. Steven decided we needed a cart to buy snacks. We grabbed an Entenmann’s cake. Which goes well with Eddy’s vanilla ice cream. And Utz barbeque chips. With watermelon Twizzlers on the side. And peanut-butter pretzels. With chocolate-covered almonds. Plus assorted flavors of Gummi Lifesavers. And I swear, I’m missing some more from this list. It was like everything you wanted when you were twelve but was told No. Andy said “We are disgusting” to which Yeli was quick to reply “I think it’s beautiful.” And you know what – it really was.

A small family of four can survive on this food for three days.

We got up fairly early the following day and went to a coffee shop to have coffee, apple fritters, a breakfast sandwich and oatmeal. The plan was to do yoga. I know. And I’m going to tell you what I told Yeli (who happen to be a yoga instructor – check out her website and tell her I sent you): I can’t exactly say it was fun, but I’m glad we went. Half a block after stepping out of the yoga studio, there was a Wholefoods giving away sausage samples. It was Have a Sausage Day. We talked about what to eat on our way back to the hotel, and we were shortly distracted by an art gallery along the way and decided to go in to fulfill our art appreciation quota for the day. Quick change in the hotel and we started walking towards the Ford Theater. Across from where Lincoln was shot was the best waffle place on earth. I now associate Lincoln’s assassination with food. We ordered country fried steaks slathered with white gravy, pork chops that tasted like a mix of adobo and teriyaki, western omelets, and the best waffles I’ve ever had. They were very thin, and had small square pockets which are not the typical waffles I often see in diners. After our meal, we stepped out to find a barbeque street fair. The whole fair was fenced which I thought was weird until we realized that the Safeway-sponsored event is not free. We decided that we are not going to pay the $12 fee to walk in and BUY more barbeque. We were glad to pay for the food inside, but not to get in. We walked away with our noses up high and had pina-colada-flavored smoothies and went to The National Aquarium.

Steven showing an alligator who's the boss.

The aquarium was fairly a small space and we finished early, and our minds were set on Ben’s Chili up on U street. It was a long walk coming from D, so we stopped at a Pot Belly for a sub sandwich because why not? Ben’s Chili is a pretty joint, even the President goes there. We had chili dogs with chili fries and shakes.

Chili in general is unforgiving to your asshole.

We carried our bloated selves back to the hotel but we had to make two stops: at Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury for a block of maple fudge, and the same CVS we visited the night before to get, um, reinforcements.

Bacon. That is all.

We had an early bus ride from DC on Sunday, so we didn’t have time to pass by any diner. Also, I realized that only NY would have diners open for business on ungodly hours. As a bonus, we did find a hooker on the street. Well, we don’t know if she was but here’s the picture: bright blue underwear, fuck-me Lucite heels, bright blue eye shadow that matches her underwear, it was not even seven in the morning, and she was pacing back and forth on an intersection. Draw your own conclusions, but as for me, she’s a hard-working hooker who thought maybe she can pull (zing!) one more customer but the sun beat her to it.
We didn’t go straight home – we stopped at DC and met a couple of Steven’s and Yeli’s friends. They took us to Lorenzo’s pizza, and let me tell, those are HUGE pizzas they have over there. We ordered one large pie, but they had to use two boxes. A slice can cover my face, and I have a rather wide face. We took our boxes to the river front and ate our slices while listening to P90X stories. It’s rather refreshing gorging on a pizza slice that can feed a small family of mice while others are talking about exercising like Navy SEALs about to assassinate the founder of al-Qaeda. After finishing the boxes, next stop was Fat Tuesday’s for some Philly cheesesteaks. We visited the Mutter Museum which showcases a roster of physical/medical abnormalities and saw an engorged colon that can contain two and a half buckets of shit. The sign from God did not escape us. So we went back to South Street to buy more Philly cheesesteaks for the ride home.
We got back to the city fairly late, definitely past midnight and I had a long commute back home in Queens. I had to work in the morning, so I wanted to walk in my apartment and just pass out. But when I walked in, I got a drink of water in the kitchen and thought: I’m hungry.

Lessons from Hawaii

I come from a fairly big family from both my dad’s and mom’s side, especially my mom’s side. Being graduation season, a member from either clan is bound to finish high school eveyr year. This year, cousin Britt was the lucky one to graduate from a relatively secure life of being a student to joining the unemployed of this great country. Cousin Britt actually visited me before for her 15th birthday. I showed her a good time so basically, it was her turn.

Here are the lessons I learned during my Hawaii trip:

Take the scenic route.

I left NY on a Thursday morning and had an early flight to San Francisco. I actually made sure I have a long layover so I can explore the city. I’ve been in San Francisco once for work, and I didn’t get to see the city. I can say I’ve been to San Francisco but I cannot say I’ve seen San Francisco. I know where the Argent Hotel is, and how to walk from there to the Moscone Convention Center, where to get good Thai food, and where Papa Beard is if you want cream puffs. It’s basically like saying you know where the restroom in a Barnes and Noble and have no clue where the music department is.

I got to San Francisco International Airport around 11 am, and since I already did my research on how to get around using the city’s public transportation, I hopped on the BART and got off at the Mission – 16th Street stop, the nearest stop I know to get to the Castro district. As I got out to the street level, the first thing I saw was the palm trees. It was a nice preview for Hawaii.


Walking along 16th Street to get to the Castro district was a longer trek that I expected. After taking out two hours of travel time to and from the airport, and giving myself an hour and a half allowance for checking in and going through security, I figured I actually only have about two hours to explore San Francisco as much as I could, and I already spent half an hour just walking.

I eventually got to Castro and turning to my left, the first thing I saw was the iconic Castro Theater. It was a pretty cool sight to see in person as opposed to looking at a picture, a picture doesn’t give me the sense of smell – and I believe that a moment is better experienced when most of the five senses are included. That’s why no one forgets a subway ride in NY. Who can forget that smell?


I walked down along Castro with the only intention of visiting Harvey Milk’s old camera shop. If I have to tell you who Harvey Milk is, or if you don’t Google him after reading that name, we probably can’t be friends. I prefer my friends to be a combination of funny, cultured and smart. Take one out of the equation and I probably won’t even follow you on Twitter. Milk’s old shop is now a store for the HRC.

I had lunch in a Mexican restaurant a few blocks up – had a quesadilla with Coke imported from Mexico. I guess it’s as authentic as I can get since the workers in the place were Mexicans as well.

You snooze, you lose.

I landed in Honolulu fairly tired. I had a scowl on my face but that had nothing to do with the fact that I just flew a total of nine hours across a country and an ocean. It’s my default face. If we decide to meet in a public place and you see me first before I see you, it would look like I did not want to meet you in a public place. It’s deceiving, so don’t be confused when I crack a smile upon seeing you. So there I was, lugging my luggage (is that how “luggage” got its name?), greeted by a lady standing outside the gates, waving her hand a tad too fast for my liking. I was convinced she had Alzheimer’s. If that is true, I feel bad for that joke.

When Aunt Elaine spotted me, she gave a quick hug and said “Hurry! Miss Hitler is behind us!” That did not need an explanation because that’s exactly how I felt about the attendant in the arrivals driveway barking at every car that stalled for over five seconds. I threw my luggage in the Bronco, smiled at cousins Meg and Britt and for the life of me, I could not hoist myself up the vehicle so I grabbed on the driver seat and dragged myself up which go well because I held wrong and I started slipping down. It was as if the lei around my neck (I got lei’ed!) weight fifty pounds. I honestly do not remember the conversation in the car – I was not mentally there. I was busy staring at the freeway and the darkness outside the car. I remember a lot of laughs, a lot of funny stories but I was too exhausted to retain anything.

We got to Kaneohe and got my hugs and hellos from Meg’s mom Aunt Irene, Britt’s brothers Jake and Tristan and from our Granma. The first thing my grandmother told me after giving me a kiss was “THEY LEFT ME!” This requires context. It’s not something you open a greeting with. So apparently, the night before when they flew in, Granma was so tired that when they got to Aunt Elaine’s place, she passed out. She hit the bed and turned the main switch off. So everyone else took off to have dinner and drinks. “They left me and they had mai tais! Without me!” If they did the same to me and had dinner without me, I would understand. But I’m with my grandmother – you don’t leave me when you are going to have drinks. If there is a promise of alcohol, I will buck up and stay up. Granma did not walk away without learning a valuable lesson – ever since that incident, whenever we had the chance to nap during the day, she stayed awake. “You’re not leaving me again.”


So with love, I’m telling YOU: you snooze, you lose.

In a twisted way, Michael Jackson and children always seem to be tied together.

Everyone went to cousin Tristan’s May Day school event. There was a “parade” of the islands. Each island was represented by a boy and a girl, lead by a boy carrying what looks like an unlit lantern and then trailed by a princess. It was cool, it was peppered by facts like this island’s represented by the color green and that one is famous for pineapples while this one is known for its beautiful beaches. Lots of information of course was not retained in my head because an egret decided to steal the show by flying in and out of the field. I do not know what May Day is. It sounds very ritualistic to me. Like a cult. I assumed a goat would be sacrificed at the highlight of the event. But this was Hawaii and it was young students involved. Every class from Pre-K to 6th Grade did some dance for the parents and visitors. It was pretty cool – reminded me of my own grade school. My old school was big on end-of-year events.

The younger kids did a song and dance number about being unique. It was really cute watching these kids sing about we are like different colors, everyone is different and when together, it makes a pretty rainbow. It was like Gay Pride but with children and everything was PG-7. Another class did a square-dancing act which really riled up the crowd. There was also a traditional hula dance by the faculty. My favorite was the Michael Jackson medley. It was a crowd pleaser. They also danced “Thriller.” What was distracting though was in between the acts, while the children either enter or leave the field, the dj would play “We are the World”. And it was always oddly cut – they would start playing it mid chorus and abruptly cut, no fade ins nor outs.


Stop thinking about it and just do it.

Remember that show North Shore on Fox? Me neither. After Tristan’s school event, we head back home to rest for a while (my grandmother did not take a nap) and then packed up to head out to the North Shore. It was a long drive. And it was not because it was far; it was the speed limit that was the killer. I think it’s to avoid running over turtles crossing the streets (that’s not true). On our way there, we did a quick stop on a beach that oversees Chinaman’s Hat, which I heard was a sacrificial site. It was an interesting name until it was pointed out to me that it looks like a straw hat from certain angles. Every vision of a Chinese man being sacrificed on top the island was dispelled from my head, but it was a fascinating, albeit, a very racist story.


So we continued on our drive and passed by Turtle Bay Resort also known as Lost, Blue Crush and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Not too far and we reached our destination. Looking for a parking space was a bitch since everyone in the island decided it’s a great day to hit the beach. Hey Hawaii, you’re in Hawaii, EVERYDAY is a great day to hit the beach. We walked up to the beach after getting a parking spot (cousin Meg threatened to run over someone who would not leave the parking space – the someone was not even on a car, she was just standing on the parking space, on her phone. I would have not blinked if Meg ran over her), and then walked to the beach.

The waves were not bad, I’ve seen bigger waves before. It was a warm day and I thought the water should be warm as well. Meg and I decided to get into the water and just walked on the beach. Two things we realized: the water was colder than we expected, and in the past ten minutes, the waves have gone exponentially bigger. We were already wet up to our knees and I wanted at least to have a savage tan when I return to New York, so we went deeper into the water. I don’t know about you, ladies, but once you get your nut sack wet, the rest of the body can tolerate the temperature. And then the next thing we know, a huge wave passed and I lost Meg. I hear Tristan laughing and when the water receded, Meg was covered with sand head to toe. Tristan even made a funny, “Megan’s hair is now sandy brown.” We haven’t finished laughing when the next wave came and it was my turn for humiliation. For a moment, my feet were not touching the ground, the wave lifted me and then dropped me closer to the beach. I stood up totally disoriented. I had to listen to where the laughter was coming from to know which way is AWAY from the ocean. But the best was Aunt Irene. She was wearing shorts and was laughing it up with her sister when the wave dragged her in the water. For a while, she was just sitting down under the water. Apparently, all that time, she was going through an intense debate – the water pulled her and pulled her shorts down. The options: stand up to breathe with your shorts down and die; or stay under water and die. The water receded, one hand on her shorts and the other on Aunt Elaine’s leg. Between coughing up sea water and laughing, she was fine.

Not far from us was this big rock formation, creatively called “The Rock.” Kids climb this rock and jump down from it. It raises a lot of questions about these kids’ rationality. Cousin Jake has done it a few times, so did Britt’s boyfriend Kyle. But Britt wanted to do it. The moment we hit the beach, Britt went straight to the rock, and waited in line with a bunch of guys lining up to jump off it. She stayed there for quite some time. Remember, she was up there as most us were busy trying not to drown. We dried off, soaked up some sun, and was getting ready to leave when we noticed that Britt hasn’t jumped off yet. We waved at her to let her know we were leaving – and the moment every one turned towards the parking lot, while no one was looking – she jumped.

Some people are gullible, thread carefully.

After our beach visit, we went to the Dole plantation. As were driving in, this happened:

Me: Did you know that “dole” is Hawaiian for “pineapple?”
Grandma: Really?
Me: No.


Be brave for those who are not.

Meg and I have tattoos. We both below to the I-can’t-just-have-one-tattoo club. We have a few scattered in our bodies. Being a few years older than Britt, it’s not surprising if she tends to look up to us. She’s of age, and she wanted a tattoo. And being the good cousins that we are, we went with her and got tattoos ourselves to show her that it’s not so painful (It was. Hurt like a motherfucker). Megan went first and got a heart and the peace sign on each of her wrists. I’ve always thought she was a hippie by heart, so am I! I think we both were born in the wrong decade. Britt went next and got a snowflake on her wrist. I like it a lot. I also like it because it means something to her, and that’s what mattered. It wasn’t something she whimsically thought of one drunken night (not that she drinks – she doesn’t), or some guy’s initials. She was born during a snowstorm, and it’s a reminder that she’s from Colorado. She also got a small dime-sized peace sign on her foot. I was the last one and I had a turtle on my foot as well. I wanted something NY-related but that would feel wrong. So I went something Hawaiian. Fun fact: I spent the first four, five years living in Pearl City.




You can always depend on Chinatown.

In New York’s Chinatown, you can buy a mango-flavored cake for $20. In Philadelphia, there’s a restaurant that serves a kind of Vietnamese sandwich that my boyfriend Andy loves. In DC, you can take a bus all the way to New York for $20. And in Honolulu’s Chinatown, you can have dumplings for four for $20.

Britt and Granma went to a Buddhist temple while the rest of us went to Chinatown to buy some leis for Britt’s graduation. I’ve been to a few Chinatowns, and I even mentioned to Meg that we’d know when we’re in Chinatown because it has a very distinct smell. I was wrong. Hawaii’s Chinatown smelled immaculate. There was still a hint of the ocean smell in the air. It was so clean, it was disgusting.

Also, something happened that I see fairly normal in NYC but I’m guessing not so here in Honolulu. We saw someone wearing a bright red dress and a tiara while walking with a cane. I say “someone” because I’m not convinced if it was a guy or a lady. S/He had boobs but s/he also a moustache. Regrettably, we were not able to take any pictures.

Live in the moment.

I was surprised on how a graduation was held like it was a sporting event. Cars were decorated with the graduates’ names, with exclamations of love and pride from moms and dads and brothers and sisters. Signs were held up, not just names but of pictures. Let me just say that I’m happy I did not finish high school here. I sat next to a family who were way too proud of their daughter. Like she was the first to finish high school in the family. They were loud. They had no shame. Bitches please, your graduate wasn’t even in the honor roll.


The whole thing was fairly short. I enjoyed the speeches. They had five valedictorians – I had a hard time understanding that. After the ceremony, we waited for Britt to meet up with us, and when she showed up, we gave her the leis. Now hours before, we were wondering why everyone had floaties. Like for kids in a pool. And then it became clear. Many of the graduates got so much leis that it covered their faces. And the overflow went to their waists!


Relax.

We spent the following day in Waimanalo Beach. I heard the President comes there when he comes home to Hawaii. It was gorgeous. The water was a deep turquoise. The sky a perfect blue. Sand was fine. Meg and I knocked down a couple of bottles, talked shit about politics, growing up, life in general while soaking up the sun.


Remember and appreciate the past.

We all had evening flights back to mainland, so we had the whole morning and most of the afternoon to do some more tourist-y stuff while Aunt Elaine went to work and the boys to school. Side bar – Aunt Elaine’s office is next door Dog the Bounty Hunter’s shop.

We went to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. They gave out timed tickets, and while waiting for our turn to head over the sunken battleship, we took the time walking through the museum and reading about the tension between Japan and the US back in the day. I will never understand that. Despite the fact that the country is in war at the moment, I do not think the country feels it as much as it did back then. Back then, the whole country gave up on some metals so we can produce bullets. Now, we show the Kardashians on tv. What’s up with that?

We were shown a movie about how Hawaii did not see an attack coming. I do not know much about US history, and I wish I can bullshit my way through it but I can’t. I was mesmerized by the story-telling. I was listening like there was a written and oral test at the end of the movie.

He movie was followed by a ferry ride to the memorial. It was a quiet ride save for an older couple – a woman who would not stop taking pictures even after being told not to, and her husband who won’t shut the fuck up.

Aside from this and 9/11, I really can’t think of any outside attacks to the US. I hope we’re all done with that.

Learn to stand out.

All the time we were in Hawaii, Aunt Irene rented a small car. Nothing fancy, the only requirement she had when she rented it was air-conditioning. The car rental place gave her a bright yellow car. Not quite an NY cab yellow. It’s like Bumble Bee from the Transformers, or Tweety Bird if she had four wheels and can ride four. It was actually pretty ridiculous until we all realized one benefit of this car – it stands out. It’s basically the opposite cliché of finding a needle in a haystack – finding a bright yellow car in a crowded parking lot. Though it escapes why one would try to find a needle in a haystack. Or how the needle got there in the first place.


One more thing – I learned that if you live in Hawaii, you don’t really need socks. Also, I was reminded that getting tattoos hurt like a sonovabitch.

“Let’s take this time to remember our memories.”

Spent Memorial Day in DC. Mom has never been so we hopped on a MegaBus past midnight in the city and by sunrise, we were in DC.

Nothing fancy – Mom just wanted to see the White House (“This is it? Malacanang is bigger than this.”), see the Hope Diamond in Natural History Museum and check out the American History Museum. We did have a pleasent surprise of seeing a parade along Constitution Avenue, with Pat Sajak as the Marshall.

By the way, the post title is a line from Drew Droege’s Chole Sevigny impersonations. Check his Youtube page, he’s one funny guy.