Tag Archives: oahu

Love Letter


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,

The Keiki


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.


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.

Ok Stupid


My roommates think I should write a book about online dating. There’s no way that’s ever happening because I’d have to go back into the danger zone; I’d have to turn around and walk straight back into the fiery Hell that is Bokay Poopid. I’ve only tried it out for about 5 months in total—over the course of the last year and a half. I disabled it multiple times—either right after deciding to date/semi-date someone or right after receiving a disgusting “last straw” message (see Dating on an Island). To write an actual novel, I’d have to go on MANY more dates and I think I’d also have to try it out in other cities and on other websites for that matter. Ha!

Although I’ve decided that another blog is the only attention I will ever give this subject, I have to let you in on the possible book titles that were thrown around:

Ok Stupid

Online Dating: The Weird, The Ugly, and The Weird AND Ugly

My Online Dating Experience: A Story of Humor and Disgust

I have to copyright these because you never know—maybe I’ll fall back into the dark, deep pit again one day. But for now, let me just fill you in on a few memorable events that have occurred between the blog I wrote a year ago and now.

  1. Harmless lunch at my favorite Thai place? Yes, until my date tells me that he couldn’t decide whether to put straight or bi on his profile. “But I decided I do prefer girls. For example, I’m very attracted to you.” Oh, cool. When I said no thanks to that bedazzling gentleman caller, he offered his roommate’s online username. I passed on that as well.
  2. Received a message that said, “You seem like you have brains, which is great because I’m somewhat of a zombie when it comes to women. Brainssss nom nom nom!” Could’ve been cute and acceptable, especially since I dig The Walking Dead, a lot. But the thing was, he looked like a zombie. One of those rotting, half-eaten, reallllllmessedup zombies. I think he actually wanted to eat me—nonsexual; straight-up Hannibal Lecter style.
  3. “Dated” a guy for a bit who literally lived off of chicken fingers. He hated all vegetables, ALL ethnic foods of any kind, and he had a very serious ginger allergy. I fucking LIVE for vegetables, ethnic foods, and ginger. We could never go anywhere but Chili’s and I realized we’d never last long. Relationships are built on dinners, duh. We were food enemies. I also thought on multiple occasions that I was going to kill him. He’d told me that his ex kissed him once, after she’d just eaten ginger pork. He broke out into hives and had to epi-pen the hell out of himself. I grate ginger into a lot of meals that I cook. He’d come over, I’d forget, start kissing him, realize that I might be killing him, and start freaking out. Like I said, this was a solid failure of a fling. If you can’t take me to a sushi joint OR kiss me after I’VE been to a sushi joint, you don’t deserve to be in my life. He also once told me that we had a lot of charisma. He meant chemistry. He was real pretty. Plus, he accidentally took my roommate’s DVD and now, months later, keeps saying he’ll bring it by but never does. I did, however, get a text the other day that simply said, “Shower :)”… I replied, “Ok, cool. So about that DVD…” and then, a day later, he said his phone was “being weird”… Like I said, he was real pretty.
  4. One guy had real promise. He took me to a fantastic seafood restaurant on the water, he was educated, funny, AND beautiful. Something has to be wrong, right? Well, he kept dropping hints/making jokes that he was a stripper. When pressed, he said he had no job—that he’d saved enough money from bartending to now just live in the richest part of town and finish school. Right. On closer examination, he did look an awful lot like the guys in Magic Mike.
  5. After I’d deleted my profile, one guy googled me and found this blog, commenting on a few posts and asking me out. Hi Randy!
  6. Last, but certainly not least, I met up with a guy named Tidus. I knew this name sounded a little too much like The Little Mermaid’s dad. Turns out, it was his “stage name.” He was working extra hard to be discharged from the Navy so he could go make it big in L.A. First of all, do you think it’s admirable to lie to your employer about your mental state just so you can be a captain’s golf caddy for a few months before you’re quietly let go, years before your signed contract? There’s only one word for that: pathetic. Secondly, yes, he can sing (of course he brought his guitar), but there is no way he will ever “make it big” with an attitude/ridiculous name like that. Plus, he was about 5 feet tall, with shoes, on a slight incline. Even if you reach Beiber status, I will never buy your CD, ALBERT! Oh man, what if he does make it big…and sues me for this blog? Changing the real name now. Is that enough? I can’t change Tidus, because of the whole Little Mermaid joke, that was classic. This is tough.

If you’re ever bored out of your mind, desperate and lonely, live on a manless land (Iceland or Hawaii, everywhere else has men, go find them!) and even just a creepy, erotic message would make you feel better, go online.

If you ever want to take this book idea and run with it (although I’m sure there are a ton just like it…let me check Amazon real quick…yup, a ton), go online.

But if you have the slightest chance of meeting someone halfway decent—without the aid of awkward multiple choice question tests, analyzing photos, checking for grammar/spelling mistakes before you even know their middle name—just don’t go online.

Ok, Stupid?

I Heard This Place is Hard to Leave


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.


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.

Acceptable Tourist Traps


5 Oahu Tourist Spots that are Worth a Visit

Living in Hawaii has its ups and downs, just like any other area. One major con? The tourists. They crowd beaches, cause traffic, and definitely overdo the floral print. Honeymooners are easy to spot and hard to avoid during peak season. These bright-eyed people snapping photos of every plant and sign flock to a few standard “tourist spots” on Oahu and I have to admit, I completely understand why. These are the spots that locals would love to stay away from, but most can’t—they’re just too beautiful or amazing or fun or all of the above.

When friends or family or strangers on the plane visit Hawaii, I always recommend hitting up the lesser-known locations on the island. The beaches  are less crowded and more beautiful, the restaurants are less expensive and more authentic, and the bars are filled with great people and great drinks instead of coconut bras and grass skirts. However, these five major tourist spots are irresistible—for anyone! My friends and I, and other locals as well, gladly surf through waves of sunburnt travelers for another experience at one of these attractions.

Turtle Beach: One of the first stops along North Shore, Laniakea Beach is extremely unique because multiple Hawaiian green turtles can usually be seen casually basking on the shore or swimming in the calm waves. The huge turtles, or honu, aren’t shy at all here. However, this became a problem when some people didn’t treat the creatures with respect, causing a group to band together to protect the turtles all day, every day. The Honu Guardians place red rope around the turtles so that people won’t disturb them. They also know everything about the honu, and happily dole out interesting facts and pamphlets to visitors. I was blown away to learn that the green turtles swim 500 miles to lay their eggs on another island—and then the newborns find their way to Laniakea Beach and the process starts all over. It’s an amazing spot on Oahu that offers an incredible up-close interaction with an animal that is absolutely fascinating.


Diamond Head: To call Diamond Head a hike is a bit of a stretch. There are plenty of real hikes on the island, and this one is more of a “trail” in comparison. But that’s one reason why so many people love it—it’s easy and the view is an exceptional pay-off for the little amount of physical exertion applied. The entire path is paved, some of which consists of actual staircases. You’ll definitely break a sweat, but more so because of the sun beating down upon you. The breathtaking view is hidden until you reach the very top (which only takes about 45 minutes at a normal pace). It’s been bustling with all kinds of people every time I’ve been, but it’s worth it—nice work out, fantastic weather, and a gorgeous view of downtown Honolulu wrapping around the ocean.


Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck: You haven’t had shrimp until you’ve had this $13 plate of pure heaven. And yes, it’s out of a truck. Tucked in Haleiwa, a small town in North Shore, this truck attracts an eclectic mix of people every day. I’ve never been and not had to stand in a line. But the buttery, garlic-filled platter of a dozen shrimp and two scoops of rice is well, well worth the wait.


Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice: Open since 1951, Matsumoto’s sells one hell of a shaved ice. You can opt for something common, like coconut or strawberry, or you can explore some local flavors like lilikoi or li hing mui. Even the small size is huge, but you won’t have a problem finishing your frozen treat. Like everything on this list, be prepared to wait in a crazy line. But again—worth it. Make sure to pay an extra 25 cents for a plastic holder, which catches any drips or spills—you won’t want to waste one drop!


Hanauma Bay: The best snorkeling that I’ve found on the island yet. Unfortunately, you do have to pay to get in to this nature reserve area, and again with the lines and crowds, but the wildlife in the bay is a sight you can’t miss. The reef offers some of the most beautiful fish species, turtles, and coral on the island. Plus, the bay is calm and safe, and a great beach area to just relax on after you snorkel.


So there you go—five spots on Oahu that are super touristy, but also can’t help but attract locals like myself as well. It’s hard to avoid any parts of the island, honestly, because it is just as beautiful as the postcards. I still say that you’ll have a much better trip if you experience the lesser-known spots, like Stairway to Heaven, but these five sites have to be crossed off of your list as well.

Surviving Stairway to Heaven


Originally written for Untapped Cities.

Hawaii’s Stairway to Heaven hike, also known as Haiku Stairs: 3,922 steps crawling up Oahu’s Koolau Mountain Range, built in 1942 by the U.S. Navy as part of a radio communication initiative. The scenic voyage became an instant attraction, but because of disrepair, the trail was closed to the public in 1987. The city of Honolulu spent $875,000 repairing the stairs, predicting a safe trail ready to open in 2002. However, when repairs were complete, the city was hesitant about the planned opening. Residents of the neighboring property complained about the visitors and fought the reopening. During this time, hikers ignored the no-trespassing signs and the city eventually employed security guards to stand at the base of the stairs and prohibit entrance.

Five years ago, the city of Honolulu was still deciding the fate of the landmark. Should they reopen the famed hike to the public? Or keep it off-limits? Director of City Services at the time, Jeff Coelho, said, “The complexity of issues include everything from liability and risk to access and maintenance.”

Nothing has changed since that time; the city continues to pay for security and countless locals and tourists continue to show up in the middle of the night to avoid the guard and conquer Stairway to Heaven. The hike shows up on almost every “what to do in Hawaii” list and “virtual tourist” discussion I’ve seen, including popular travel sites, all of course stating that they are not condoning trespassing.

After I moved to Oahu, I heard rumors very early about people dying and being injured while climbing Stairway, and that’s why it was officially deemed forbidden. However, after vicious Googling, I cannot find any information on a death or injury. It’s clear that the illicit nature of the trek has created many tales—some true, some false. It is certainly dangerous though, and I was not going to take any chances! After all, you have to show up in the middle of the night, break into a gate, sneak quietly through the woods to the stairs, and climb up the 3,922 steps in complete darkness. One misstep or clumsy moment can literally mean falling down an entire mountain. I’d much rather spend my Saturday sleeping in and then soaking up some rays on the North Shore. Alas, my adventurous itch won the battle. I had to know what all the hype was about; I had to determine for myself whether this attraction should be banned to the public or not.

So at 2 AM, my friend Peter and I started our journey by making our way to the Windward Coast Kailua area, on empty Interstate H3. We followed a few Yelp directions very closely, parked in the nearby neighborhood, and tiptoed to the fence that warns trespassers. Our extreme paranoia kicked in when a red laser light appeared on the fence. It took our tired and nervous minds a few minutes to realize that a man was having a good laugh on his lanai behind us. We breathed sighs of relief, waved, and continued on. This part was sketchier than the actual stairs, in my opinion. You follow a winding path, taking a couple turns at forks, and eventually trekking through the eerie forest. Finally, after being a little startled by a group of fellow explorers, we reach the bottom of the stairs. It’s time to begin the steep (and seemingly treacherous) climb. The cool Hawaii night air and ocean breeze do nothing for us here; we are sweating within seconds, light jackets tied to our backpacks and flashlights steady on the steps in front of us.

Looking down is quite terrifying. H3 winds beneath us and random cars, seeing our flashlights, honk at us as if to say, “Keep on going!” However, we can’t see any of the mountain itself. It’s far too dark to see the work we’re actually doing. I stop often, until we are finally at the first landing, after what seems like hours. We take a break to eat an apple and I secretly want to curl up and nap. The air is getting cooler as we ascend and soon I realize that the steps themselves are not difficult. They are quite small, evenly spaced, and there is helpful railing the entire way up. I feel quite safe, actually. The tough part is the distance. We climb for hours, each step tricking us into thinking we’re closer to the last landing, but the darkness and the shape of the mountain make it impossible to tell. We can only guess. And finally, a group of people, huddled together with blankets and food, congratulate us. “Only this last stretch,” they say, pointing. Nope, we’re not there yet. They’re on the lower landing to pass time until sunrise, because the top is obviously the coldest and wettest, deep in the clouds.

We obey the pointing and haggardly head up the last, short (for once) flight of stairs. We’ve made it, we’ve conquered Stairway to Heaven. Oh wait, we still have to go all the way…back…down. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the sun rise since it was a particularly cloudy morning, so we carved our initials in the muddy shack and started descending as lightness began revealing what we’d accomplished. The misty clouds near the top dampen our hair and skin and I realize that the hike definitely has a fitting title. Made it to Heaven before I even died, oh man will my mother be proud.

Trekking down the stairs is less difficult physically but more difficult because it feels less stable. The railing is slippery and now, you can see where exactly you’d be falling, which is a little startling. Our seven hour process is finally over as we see the guard standing by his truck at the bottom, casually talking and joking with other hikers. We escape without even a warning. There have been people who were not so lucky, however. If you arrive while the guard is there, you can receive a citation. Also, some people have not been respectful of the neighboring residents, which has caused a lot of tension. These residents have complained of noise, trash, and limitation of neighborhood parking. We made sure to park on an open street, we were extremely quiet, very careful with trash, and of course, we were cautious with the hike itself! If the public follows these simple rules that we did, I do not see why the legendary expedition should be banned. Stairway to Heaven is hands down the best way to take in the magnificent ocean, mountains, beaches, clouds, and other surroundings. It is an absolutely perfect way to fully appreciate and experience (both physically and mentally) the beauty and power of the island.

As of today, the city has no plans to reopen the beloved hike.

Our journey ended with the only sane thing to do after a vicious workout: pancakes, French toast, and hashbrowns at local favorite, Cinammon’s Restaurant. Hawaii, you never seem to disappoint.

Maybe if the city lifts the ban, I’ll conquer Stairway like this next time.

The Wait for June


So it’s almost time to escape the island for a while. Six more days, and I’m free from 7th graders for two whole months. One week from then, and I’ll be in Spain. Yes, Spain. Ecstatic cannot even express my most minimal surface emotion. I’ve literally been crawling out of my skin here; I’d say that if I had to teach for seven more days instead of six, or if I had to stay on the rock past May 31, I might have a psychotic breakdown. I’m talking full-out: dye my hair, get a piercing or tattoo, sleep with that roid-head trainer at my gym, and send in an application video to one of MTV’s many shitty shows. So let’s hope my flight doesn’t get delayed, right? I’ll be teaching conversational English to a rich family all of June, and then making my way, by bus and hostels, to Pamplona for my birthday gift to myself: Running of the Bulls.

Here’s what I’m escaping:

  • 100 pre-teens that are causing extreme stress, gray hair, wistful thoughts of corporal punishment, and pessimism about this nation’s future.
  • Beaches. I know, I know, I live in a beautiful place. But I’m looking forward to the architecture, museums dripping in Picasso and Dali, and, of course, a good ol’ bull run. I never thought the sun and sand and palm trees would get old, but I guess that’s just something tourists say.
  • Disappointments. All of them, all the different kinds, big ones, small ones, fat ones, skinny ones, slimy ones…however that nobodylikesmeeverybodyhatesmeguessi’llgoeatworms song goes.

Here’s what I’m hoping to find:

  • Myself. Hahaha, just kidding. Couldn’t help it.
  • The best summer of my life. Last summer will be hard to top (Europe, moved to Hawaii), but dammit, I’m going to try.
  • Español fluency, finally? Or at least closer to it. And this time, I won’t come back to the States and stop practicing and forget everything I learned. I’ll teach in Spanish everyday if I have to. The kids can just deal.
  • Some fantastic stories. My friend suggested seducing a member of the royal family, going back to his villa, and swimming laps in his infinity pool as he occasionally feeds me grapes. I’m thinking more along the lines of slumming it with a stable boy (my host family owns an equestrian center), learning some secret enchilada recipe from a cranky old woman, and somehow waking up in France after a night of too-much-tequila. Ok, fine, whichever comes first.

If I don’t elope or get abducted, then I’ll be back in early July, probably right when I would’ve started missing teaching and beaches. But until then, GET ME THE HELL OFF OF OAHU, get me on a horse in the Andalucia region, and hand me a glass of vino. No, make it a bottle. Summer, I’m a comin’.

Hawaii Bucket List


A LOT more to cross off, and even more to add. Suggestions welcomed and appreciated! I’ve almost been here a year and I still don’t know a whole lot about this island…leave no stone unturned!

  1. Climb Stairway to Heaven
  2. Hike Koko Head
  3. Hike Lanikai Pillboxes
  4. Makapu’u tide pool hike
  5. Sex on the beach
  6. Skinny dipping in the ocean
  7. Visit Big Island
  8. Volcano hike on BI
  9. Visit Kauai
  10. Visit Maui
  11. Waimea Falls park/hike
  12. Surf
  13. Paddle board
  14. Booze cruise
  15. Learn a little ukulele
  16. Learn a little hula
  17. Learn a little Hawaiian
  18. Learn a little Pidgin
  19. Manoa Falls hike
  20. Shrimp trucks and shaved ice, repeat often
  21. Be a friend’s tour guide (local status)
  22. Whale watching
  23. Snorkel, snorkel, snorkel
  24. Scuba?
  25. Become as tan as I can possibly be
  26. Befriend a boat owner
  27. Explore Chinatown
  28. Art After Dark
  29. First Fridays
  30. Fresh Café Slam Poetry
  31. Get absolutely sill-ay in Waikiki
  32. Diamond Head
  33. Lighthouse Trail Hike
  34. Kualoa Ranch
  35. Kayak
  36. Meet Jack Johnson, Bruno Mars, and/or Dog (but preferably Jack)
  37. Pearl Harbor
  38. Iolani Palace
  39. Punchbowl
  40. Go to a luau
  41. Hit up every single beach on Oahu
  42. Bishop Museum
  43. Polynesian Cultural Center
  44. Honolulu Zoo, Aquarium, and Sea Life Park
  45. Parasail
  46. Hanglide
  47. Camping
  48. Ride horses
  49. Grow a pair and jump off of the Waimea rock
  50. Steal a pineapple from Dole Plantation fields
  51. Visit Lanai
  52. Decorate one of the “NS Christmas trees”
  53. Mac 24/7 Pancake challenge

Dating on an Island


In case you hadn’t heard, I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific. It’s not exactly a large rock and most men here are either A. covered in tattoos and wear jeans and flip-flops to the gym B. are in (and obsessed with) the military or C. work with me in TFA. All three are baddd directions to go in. Trust me. Ok, so I haven’t tried option A, but some assumptions and judgments just have to be made.

Also on the plate: I have officially been swayed (by a very trustworthy source, might I add) to try out a certain online dating site. Let’s just call it Bokay Poopid. Don’t laugh. I was extremely hesitant about this endeavor, but finally took the leap after realizing that, in my current life, the only way to meet a person of the opposite sex is drunk downtown or at Foodland (no such luck in the cereal aisle). So Bokay Poopid it was. Worth it, you ask? Well, the free dinners have been nice. Some conversations have been great. But what it all comes down to is…the craziest, most ridiculous, insanely sketchy, creepy as hell messages I’ve ever read in my life. Let’s review a few experiences so you understand the magnitude of this situation, shall we?

Ex. #1: “How do you feel about guys doing you with a strap on?” This gem went on to talk about penis size (and offered to send picture proof). Thank god there’s a block button. What. The. Hell.

Ex. #2: “I buy you a horse.” That’s it—that was the entire message. I think it might’ve been in reference to me being from Texas, but then again, could’ve just been a sugar daddy with a ranch. When I read the message, in my mind he had a heavy foreign accent…because he didn’t say, “I would like to buy you a large animal to ride about” or “Would you like a thoroughbred complete with a saddle and stable?” Nope, just, “I buy you a horse.” Looking back, I really should’ve messaged. I’ve always wanted a horse.

Ex. #3: “How do you feel about egg salad sandwiches?” I did message this guy back, to ask him if it would be a deal breaker if I didn’t like them (because I don’t). To really throw him for a loop, I mentioned my love for tuna salad, preferably made with Miracle Whip.

Ex. #4: I go on a date with a guy who seems completely nice, normal, and smart. He casually mentions mid-meal that he’s shipping off to Afghanistan in a mere week. Thanks, bro.

Ex. #5: First date, the guy asks if I have any weed. WINNER.

There have been more, sadly, but let’s stop at 5. The point is, Foodland isn’t working out, the bar scene is definitely not working out (“Oh you’re a teacher? I bet you get a lot of apples, huh? Get it? ‘Cause you’re cute.” SHUT. UP!), and Bokay Poopid is obviously not working out either. Thanks Life, you’re the bomb.

Also, for the record, it’s not just me. My friends, since being on this anti-Cupid of an island have:

  1. Dated a guy and then been dumped via email.
  2. Met a guy for coffee and afterwards he basically tried to force her into his car. Near-rape is always fun. Ladies, if you live here, start carrying some pepper spray.
  3. Been set up with a wildly attractive man who turned into somewhat of a Clinger Stage Five. “Can I see you every second of every day for the next, say, rest of our lives?”
  4. Had love professed to them by coworkers or friends who have not a chance in hell and they now have to awkwardly keep seeing that person.
  5. Started to like or date the roommate or best friend of said awkward person.
  6. Dated and cheated on two people at the same time. “You will be my M-W-F. You will be my T-Th-S.”
  7. Have broken long distance relationships off because the fact that we’re thousands of miles away from any other civilization is hard.
  8. Have tried the whole friends with benefits thing (not smart).
  9. One night stands, nuff said.
  10. Have thought seriously about hooking up with their roommate. Icky.
  11. Have been a tourist’s personal “guide”…Poor, unsuspecting vacationers.

Do I really need to go on?

The fact is, this island is cursed. CURSED I TELL YOU. At least I’m not alone in this. Maybe this is part of “island fever” that no one told us before moving to “paradise”?

What are our options, you ask? Well, Lesbianism is out unfortunately. I wish it were that easy. Moving is out as well, I’m sticking out this two-year contract even if it crushes my body and soul! Bokay Poopid was disabled after the “I want to get you into a shower” message I got the other day, but desperation might make me enable it again I’m sure.

The only real option is to get over it, to accept the fact that for the next year and a half of my life, I’m going to be on this loveless rock, having hilarious dating experiences that make exceptional stories and pretty damn funny blogs. I can live with that. There’s also the the lesser known option D; carless, dorm-living, undergrad UH student. Don’t worry, he’s legal. I’ll let you know how it goes.

It helps that I have amazing friends going through the same crap (if not worse). Not to mention, we have wine and lots of it.

“If I met Ryan Gosling, he’d wanna build me a house.”