Tag Archives: moving

Love Letter

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Dear Hawaii,

I will miss your sand and everything attached to it.

I will miss the way the GPS says “Kah-may-ha-may-ha”.

I will miss warm malasadas and crunchy chicken katsu at potlucks.

I will miss those few and far between hapa hotties and North Shore board short-ed booties and tantalizing tribal tatted triceps.

I will miss driving through the mountains of H3, spotting Stairway and doing an inner I CONQUERED THAT happy dance.

I will miss the pineapple and pupus and Pidgin and the Pee-peh-lee-neh joke and Papailoa, where I go to read and bask alone.

I will miss my ohana (those staying on the island and those leaving) and so many moments in their lives, big and small. The birth of Cassie’s little man, the next time Kelly dyes her hair, the day Phil cooks a meal that doesn’t involve any frozen food and Annalise gets engaged and Leslie decides to stay a third year…

I will miss my keiki, who take up so much of my heart. I don’t ever need to have kids because I already have 200 it seems!

I will miss so much I could write a novel about the things I’ll miss. I could write a novel about the extreme anxiety I felt when I said goodbye to my favorite beaches and restaurants. I could write a novel about how the birds here are royal, expecting you to drive around them…yet, I’ll miss them.

I will miss every aspect of life here, all things, good and bad, because that’s how you miss wholly. Therefore I will miss the radio stations and lack of Mexican food right along with the rainbows, leis, honu, and mai tais.

I will miss calling this rock home. But I left home once so that I could return, maybe I’ll do the same again.

Oahu, I will miss your skies and smiles and waters, your colors and kindness. Mahalo for your patience and your always warm embrace. I will love you always, I will carry you everywhere- your sand and everything attached to it.

With aloha,
Alysha

The Keiki

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Gangstas v. Surfers

I have officially accepted a teaching job in Texas. You’d think I’d be ecstatic, right? A solid job to move back home to, back to the land of delicious Mexican food, sweet tea, and floating the river. I’ll finally get to be roommates with my best friend, I’ll finally keep a job for longer than two years…

But honestly, there’s something bothering me that I can’t quite shake. It’s not the fact that I’m leaving paradise—perfect weather, perfect tan (see I Heard This Place is Hard to Leave). It’s the keiki, man.

The kids.

I’ve been pampered for the last two years. My students might drive me crazy, but they freakin’ adore me. The biggest issue I’ve ever had is their lack of motivation…and I don’t blame them. I’d rather go to the beach than do homework too.

I remember what the kids were like in school back home. Also, I’m allowed to talk shit about the ghetto Mexicans and the white trash since I am both Mexican and white. Boom. Please remember that for the rest of this blog…

Those two types of people make up a LARGE percent of the population. Rednecks and gang members, knife fights at lunch, “pinche” being every other word out of most of their mouths, and a huge teen pregnancy problem. Ah, Tejas.

While this is an exaggeration, it’s only a slight exaggeration. So basically, I’m scared.

I spent 22 years in Texas, surrounded by a large Hispanic population, most of whom I was probably related to. But as for teaching experience? I’ve taught approximately two Hispanic kids in the past two years. Here in Central Oahu, the student population is comprised of SO many different ethnicities—Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino, Samoan, Micronesian, Chuukese, Tongan, Korean, Chinese, and more. They’re so mixed that most of them don’t even know what to check for race on surveys. They think it’s weird that I’m “only two things” and they don’t tease each other about being “too much” of something or “not enough” of something else.

Duh, there’s still racism and homophobia and bullying and drug abuse and all those other terrible things that happen everywhere.

But I swear, Hawaii’s kids are probably the most tolerant human beings in the U.S. It’s all aloha and shaka and howzit and bruddah and sistah and auntie… it’s kind of crazy how happy people are here. Oh wait, the sun shines every day. There are rainbows every day.

The kids I went to school with would beat these kids to a pulp and then tattoo something about it on their necks. Or they’d tie my kids to cows and pour Lonestar all over them. The white kids I went to school with would call my kids Mexicans and when my kids would try to explain that they’re actually a Hawaiian-Japanese-Filipino, they’d say, “Whatever, you’re brown, so you’re Mexican.” The Mexicans I went to school with would call my kids wannabe Mexicans.

I could go on and on, trashing and exaggerating about the kind of kids I went to school with (reminder: I’m allowed), but what I’m getting at is I DON’T WANT TO TEACH TEXAS KIDS, I WANT TO TEACH HAWAII KIDS…BUT IN TEXAS.

Sigh.

Will I be facing a major culture shock? It’s kind of ironic, I realize. I was born and raised in the area, I’m obviously super familiar with the Hispanic culture. But teaching is a different story. I’ve finally reached a point where I feel qualified to teach Hawaiian mythology and “local, Pidgin kine poetry”. I feel comfortable discussing and analyzing the differences and similarities of Asian cultures. I’ve finally mastered the stereotypes, resentments, and unspoken bonds between these groups here—it’s been incredibly hard.

So will my teaching suffer?

Will it be like my first year all over again?

What about my ELL kids? Will I know how to accommodate them? Is it the same?

I know that this entire blog is probably a huge freak-out, completely uncalled for and unnecessary. I’ll adapt, I’ll be fine, and my memory about how horrible all the kids were is probably extremely blurry and skewed. Let’s be real, I only remember one knife fight in my 13 years of schooling.

Every culture is unique, and I know how important it is to learn about my students’ cultures and incorporate them into my work, but does every culture require some sort of special, secret teaching skill? No, of course not. Teaching with love, passion, and curiosity is across the board—that’s all I need…which is good, because sometimes I feel like that’s all I have to offer as a teacher.

Hopefully, my Mexican kids will love me just as much as my little mixed plate loco mocos do here. Hopefully they won’t judge me based on the fact that my Spanish is only at an intermediate level (only when I’m drunk). At least I know all the bad words, that’ll be helpful.

I will adapt and I will do it FAST, just like I did here. I still remember the first time I tried poke and spam musubi, thinking they looked like the most disgusting things I’d ever seen. Look at me now—using chop sticks like a pro and giving directions like a local.

I still say flip-flops, not slippahs. Not budging on that one.

I’ll miss this place and I’ll miss these people so much. I don’t think I’ll ever love my students more than I love these, my Hawaii babies, my keiki. But you never know. All I can do is try.

I Heard This Place is Hard to Leave

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I’ve officially applied for three different school districts in the Austin area. I doubt I’ll get a job offer since I currently do not have my license, masters, nor have I taken the Texas required tests (yay for being from a state that has to create its own EVERYTHING).

But maybe that’s ok, to stay in Hawaii a little longer? Where I have a for sure job, a for sure house…ok that’s all that I have for sure. And a gym membership, I have that. And lots of shit, including my car, which I don’t want to even think about boxing or shipping or selling or throwing away…

What the hell is wrong with me?

I have these moments where I want nothing more than to stay here, in the sunshine. My skin is smiling, constantly tan. I buy random fruits just because you can’t get them on the mainland. My car is filled with sand. I drive past those trees on Kam that are bursting with the yellowest of yellow flowers and I think, “Jesus there’s nowhere more beautiful.” I appreciate never being cold. I cherish the fact that I can jump in the ocean or climb a mountain at any moment if I so choose.

But then I remember how far away I am from my family, from my best friend, from decent Mexican food, and from date-worthy men (at least, I’m guessing they’re all in Austin). I remember what it feels like in the fall, the first time you can bring the boots out from the back corner of your closet. I remember floating the river and 6th Street and The Square and Sonic Happy Hour and the baby cousin I haven’t met yet. I remember my dog, Mardi, and the deer and the quiet, country sound that is so different than the quiet sea.

But then I remember the scorpions, spiders, mosquitoes, humidity, and belt-buckled rednecks who call people fags and give our entire state a bad rep.

I realize that I’ll be surrounded by not just good memories, but all the bad ones too. You never know who you’ll see at HEB, right? The guy who completely pulverized your heart, the old friend who helped him do it, the creep who you filed sexual harassment charges against at your first real job, the boss who cared more about protecting the company’s name than protecting you, the father who you might not even recognize, but you do because he looks like you.

Here I’m safe from those people, or those kind of people. There are no extremes here, which is of course a con as well because that means there are no greats—family, friends, loves. But at least there are no extreme enemies? There are a few people who I’d prefer not to see downtown, but maybe one day I will and I’ll either run away or have an awkward, fake conversation. There’s a guy who I kind of, sort of fell for and then he promptly exchanged his boyfriend ticket for a cleaner, larger font acquaintance ticket. There are a lot of grab-bag pals, lots of pebbles, no rocks. Hawaii’s not a hideaway though, or a refuge—if anything, it’s a time capsule that forces you to dwell and make decisions and move on or hold on. But it also feels like a giant pause button of a rock.

Anyway.

I flip-flop pretty regularly. I love it here—I love the keiki, I love the beach, I love that I can get authentic Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Indian food on any part of the island. I love the aloha and the rainbows and the bright birds and I can’t stand the thought of seeing the Gulf again after I’ve seen the blueness of these waters.

But nothing beats home, brown waves and all. I forget what it’s like for people to not think it’s weird when I say “y’all” or “fixin’ to” or “coke” when I mean soda. I don’t like being so far away from my mom’s embrace, my dad’s wisdom, or my best friend’s dance moves. I don’t like being isolated in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles and dollars away from anyone or anything. I don’t like that no one ever stays here. You’re either here for the military, college, or the experience—all transient, all temporary. Half my fellow teachers or more will be packing their bags in May. Slowly, the numbers will dwindle and, most likely, I’ll have zero friends on Oahu by 2015.

I miss the comfort, the familiarity. But can I move back without a job? Surely, no. I’d go crazy without a teaching job, I’d go crazy if I had to resort to subbing or retail or living with my parents or taking another cubicle life-sucking 9 to 5.

So what to do? Besides wait. And dream about bringing everything and everyone that I love here, spreading them all over the islands. I heard this place is hard to leave. It’s true. I’d rather stay and create my own utopia. Some family on Maui, some friends on Kauai, or a new addition to the chain, a mini Texas island popping up above Oahu, holding everything I miss, just a ferry ride away. I crawl in bed mapping it all out.

Mom and Dad can have a house in Kailua, Johanna can live with me, Kristian would be in Kapolei, Ari and Anthony would live in a Chinatown apartment, Anne’s place would be in Haleiwa, Grandma and Aunt Debbie would live in Aiea, Tara in Lanikai, Rachel would have a studio in Waikiki, Laura and Kyle will share some North Shore shack…

…and then I fall asleep.

How to Be “Pleasantly Surprised By Everything”

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I’ve officially learned the hard way how true a good friend’s words were recently:

“Never get excited about anything, and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by everything” (or something like that).

HOW TRUE IS THAT?! How sad, but true is that? When she first said it, I thought it was hilarious of course, as are most things that come out of her mouth, but I didn’t take it seriously. After all, getting excited about things is…well, fun. Getting excited means smiling and laughing and butterflies and anticipation. How boring would life be without excitement?

But then again…the quote is 100% true. Our lives would be simpler and easier if we never allowed ourselves to get excited about anything. Think about it. You’d never have ANY expectations, no unrealistic fantasies, zero delusions about experiences that family or friends or media have hammered into your minds since birth…

Let’s take a few examples from my life:

1.       Life After College. Oh my lord, I thought immediately after I was handed that diploma that my life would basically start exploding into fireworks of adventure, fortune, and happiness. I built up life after college SO much—not only in the four years at Texas State, but also in high school, and probably before that too. This is the supreme example of how getting excited about something screwed me over. I realized pretty quickly that Oh, wait…I didn’t find the perfect husband in college. Oh, wait…I don’t have a fabulous dream job lined up. Oh wait, I’m still living in a shitty apartment selling clothes for a horrendous hourly wage? If I hadn’t been so excited, maybe this time in my life would’ve been seen as relaxing and full of possibilities instead of hopeless and a huge, huge disappointment.

2.       Moving To Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii was my first choice when I applied for TFA. The rest of my top ten cities were big and bustling, most of which I had never even been to. Why? Because this was going to be THE BEST TWO YEARS OF MY LIFE! This experience was going to be LEGEN-wait for it-DARY! Oh, I got my first choice city? Of course I did, because these two years were going to be filled with getting a tan, travelling between islands, being a kickass teacher, finishing grad school like a boss, and meeting  beautiful surfers (one of whom would become my boyfriend, of course). It’s a little ridiculous how excited I was about moving here. And c’mon, I had great reason—this is paradise, this is one of the top honeymoon spots, this place has no real winter! BUT (there’s always a but when you get too excited), this has of course been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This is the most I’ve ever complained, stressed, lacked sleep, had migraines that are out of this world…and I can’t help but wonder…would it be this challenging if I hadn’t built it up so much in my head, convincing myself that it was going to be PERFECTION?

3.       Relationships. If you haven’t read my blog “Dating on an Island,” go read it…If you’ve read it, then I really don’t need to say anything else right now. You get it. Dating sucks, people suck, having high expectations sucks, getting disappointed time after time sucks. But hey, if I don’t like it, I should just stop getting excited about relationships, right? Cutting out this aspect leaves us heartbreak free. If we don’t get excited, we therefore won’t get crushed. Plus, no matter what sleazy or slimy or downright disturbing words or actions someone directs toward you, you won’t be fazed! Because you weren’t excited anyway! Ahh, the liberation.

The problem is, none of this is actually possible. We’re wired a little differently than that, unfortunately. No matter how much my friend can say “Never get excited about anything, and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by everything,” she’ll never actually, truly be able to live by it, nor will I or you or anyone.

We’re programmed to get excited, to get our hopes up, to anticipate the best, and to be severely disappointed when again, something is, instead, the worst.

But who the hell cares. I’m one of those idiots who gets excited about EVERYTHING and everyone. And you know what? I’ve had plenty of pleasant surprises in my life, thank you very much! Then again, have I had more disappointments because of my over-eagerness? Shit, probably. Point moot. Whatever, dream big or go home.