What Hawaii Is to Me

(The following is a paper I wrote for my Hawaiian Studies class over 4 years ago, but it is all from the heart and true still.)

Hawaii is home. I was born on Oahu in Honolulu, where I lived for my first 26 years. It did not take long for me to find out what a melting pot of cultures Hawaii is, and struggled to find where I fit in. Being considered “haole” my whole life, I was often picked on and ridiculed by others. I tried to not let this get to me as a youth. I was busy falling in love with Hawaii and all it had to offer in beauty and culture. I noticed that I was living among Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Samoan, Tongan, Portuguese, Hawaiian and others as well as mixes of each. I found that Hawaiian and Chinese was a very common mix among Hawaiians that I knew growing up. I spent much time at the many beautiful beaches, hiked mountain ridges and swam under waterfalls, enjoying and eventually taking for granted my surroundings.

My father was a professor at the University of Hawaii in the department of Zoology. He embraced the Hawaiian culture after moving to Kaneohe from Texas. He bought and taught himself ukulele and played and sang for me as a child. This inspired me to learn to play and sing Hawaiian music myself. Some of the music was more jazzy than traditional Hawaiian, and I would learn later that it was the foreign influence on Hawaiian popular music that brought forth songs like “The Hukilau Song”, and other songs in English that were not originally sung in Hawaiian.

I was a city boy, and either caught the bus, walked or rode a bike to get where I was going, since having a car in Hawaii was more of a luxury than a necessity for us as a family. I had to know the streets of Honolulu well so I would not get lost. I came to know the streets of Makiki , McCully, Moilili, lower Manoa, Kapiolani, Kaimuki and Waikiki very well, down to how long each traffic light would take to change. I also knew where to get the best cracked seed snacks and plate lunches and shave ice. We never made a trip back from the North Shore without going through Haleiwa to stop at Matsumoto’s for shave ice. As a youth, I figured everyone in the world took their shave ice with azuki beans at the bottom!

I found out through a handful of trips to “the mainland” to visit family in Texas that there were a LOT of things I enjoyed in Hawaii that were not available anywhere else. I remember the frustrated look on the face of the cashier at a McDonald’s in Texas when I kept trying to describe my breakfast order of Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice. Things are different outside of Hawaii. This made Hawaii even more special to me. I miss it when I am not there.

I embrace being a “local”: I learned and spoke pidgin and proper Hawaiian phrases, as well as proper English, I participated in May Day ceremonies, sacrificed my physical health for “ono grinds” and gave and received hundreds of leis in my life there so far. I brag about my heritage to others, even though I do not have any Hawaiian blood literally running through my veins. To me, what matters is being able to say that I have the Aloha Spirit, which is palpable to anyone who tries to see it or feel it. I am proud to be from one of the hubs of the Pacific and the world, “The Gathering Place” of Oahu.

My Daughter Hates High School Musical

…and she’s only just beginning middle school.

It was only a year or so ago that my daughter was singing High School Musical as loud as she can, knowing every word and all of the harmonies. I used to endure it in the car just for her, knowing that I was doing something special for her.

Tonight, I put it on for old time’s sake and she completely wigged out. She cupped her ears and ran screaming. Apparently one week of middle school changes a girl.

It’s pretty scary raising our first 11 year old – going on 19. She is all of a sudden too cool for us parents. The transformation is real and it happens very quickly. Enjoy the time you have with your kids while you have them. They will not always want to hang out with you and may even be completely embarrassed by your mere presence in any public setting.


Oh well, I still have thee more to try to brainwash before they get too cool for their ol’ Dad.

For the record, I actually think this soundtrack is pretty good. The songwriting is rather appropriate and better than I would have expected for something like this nowadays.

As far as Zac and Vannessa’s behavior off screen…ugh. But really, they have very little to do with the “music” part of this, so I can easily let them fade out of the picture when I enjoy the songs for what they are.

I wonder what next week’s drama will be. :p

, ,

Dearest Zoe,

Zoe Day 1
Happy 6 Months Old Day, Zoe!

Precisely 6 months ago, and also on a Saturday, you came screaming into this world, strong yet so fragile. I held my breath as you took your first. I loved you instantly.

Your smile and captivating eyes have brought me and the whole family an extraordinary amount of joy. You greet me every day with a look of recognition and cheer, and I am a Daddy anew. Your tiny presence fuels our home with energy and happiness.

Your sister and brothers also love you, almost too much, if there were such a thing. They actually get into fights over who gets to hold you and play with you next. Yes, I love them as well, and they were once as tiny as you.

I couldn’t wait for 12 months to write this letter to you, my youngest child and lovely daughter. You inspire me to rise to the privilege of being your father.

You are equally one of the 5 most beautiful things I have ever seen on this wonderful planet.

I pray that I will be able to be there for you and guide you into becoming the wonderful girl and woman you want and ought to be.

I love you,


I Just Started A Fire and Vanquished A Demon

I started a fire today. It was neccessary. The stupid thing was asking for it. For days now, this thing has brought nothing but sorrow and pestilence to our household. It made the strongest of my children shriek with terror when she felt the chilling effects of this unwanted beast.

My patient wife spent the days biding her time, waiting for me to burn the monster that was terrorizing our family. Today was finally the day.

I armed myself and made it cautiously into the attic. I could feel its presence. I flipped on the light. I slowly turned my head and it was right there in my face breathing a foul stench right on my face. I remained calm, as I knew it couldn’t do anything to me unless directly provoked.

I leaned closer toward it, the smell growing stronger. I readied my torch and slowly made my way around the menace. While in its blind spot, I leaned in and thrust my torch into it’s belly. Nothing. I missed the sweet spot. I regrouped, wiped the sweat from my forehead, took a deep breath of sweltering air, held it and this time slowly advanced my weapon. FWOOOSH! Gotcha. The beast knew I was there now, and I had only seconds to get out before I was burned along with it.

I clumsily sealed the opening I had made, put out my torch, rose to my feet, and…silence. There was one more thing to be done, to assure the beasts demise. I needed to increase the size of the small flame I had just started. I reached down to the foot of the monster and turned the dial. KA-FWOOOOM! This noise and the new light shining in the attic was proof enough that my job was done.

There were shouts of joy and praise in the house upon my return. Never before had they seen such an act of heroism or bravery.

I re-lit the water heater.