Ready for Christmas!!

Growing up in Pennsylvania and spending time in Japan, I know what winter is supposed to be like. Snow, pine trees, hot cocoa and soup, etc. So for some people spending Christmas in Hawaii would seem a bit monotonous. 
But Hawaii has its own unique winter. The temperatures drop just enough to make fuzzy blankets and hot showers at night feel good. During the day we have trade winds and light rains that almost look like snow when you see the drops fluttering around in the wind. 
Honolulu has its own unique holiday events, in addition to all the amazing unique traditions and cultures shared by the families that live here. Every year I enjoy watching parades, seeing the City Lights display, riding a christmas trolley, and taking pictures with a Santa who wears an aloha shirt. Our condo and surrounding buildings on our street have fantastic light displays, and this year I even joined in decorating my lanai window with a simple yet bold design--a string of lights taped up into a triangle shape, with a color-changing star at the top. From the street, it looks like I have an amazing Christmas tree in my window! My actual Christmas tree is a "pop up" style rainbow tinsel cone that we decorated with all of the usual ornaments like my signature spelling of "LOVE".
We have a big stack of presents by the tree for all of us, not including the loft bed that needs to be put together. Since we usually don't spend money on things like furniture and such, many of our Christmas gifts are household items. On my husband's birthday, I upgraded our coffee table from a low folding wood one to a nice false marble lift-top table, since Yasushi prefers sitting on the sofa to sitting on the floor. I still have the old one folded up just in case for parties and such, so it's not a waste. For Christmas, Chinami is finally getting a loft bed, which will really optimize and organize our bedroom space. I think I'm a bit more excited than anyone for it!
Of course there are things like video games, etc. non essentials, non practical items I would love to buy but this year seeing family and furniture came first. 

2018 was definitely a great year and a year where we came first. We welcomed some great people into our home, we had an amazing family vacation where my children could get in touch with their roots on my side, and I took another step forward in my career and in my personal pursuits. Speaking of which, once again a door shut and a window opened. In December, I was told my hours would be cut, and instead of working 2 overnights and 1 morning shift, I would only be doing 2 overnights. However, the following week, one of our overnight ladies announced she would be leaving us, freeing up two overnight shifts, one of which I was able to take over starting next January. So instead of being uncertain, having Tuesday and Thursday free but not sure if I would be able to find a job to occupy the strange hours, and having a pay cut, I got another pay raise (more hours than before and at the higher overnight rate!) and Tuesday and Thursday can remain as "rest" days. 
So that is part of the reason that I am here on Christmas Eve, awake past midnight despite having worked overnight shift yesterday. Doing overnight shifts two days in a row(and then again one day later) is not going to be easy, but it's the best option for me to be able to provide for my family and still have time to spend with my kids and pursue my own personal projects in 2019. 
Merry Christmas to my beloved family, and may 2019 bring you peace and success. 


Reflections as we near 2019

After we returned from our trip, the time seemed to fly by. Soon, Halloween was already upon us, and instead of doing a Dias de Muertos /Coco theme, the kids and I decided on the Greatest Showman. It gave me a chance to wear the amazing sparkly dress I got as a gift from my dear "aunty" Rachel X when we stayed with them in Pennsylvania (I wore the dress plus gave myself a beard with face paint, easiest costume!) it gave Kyle a chance to shine as the star of his first real Trick or Treating excursion (he walked it this year!!) and Chinami was an amazing "Ann", it was perfect! And since Yasushi was off work this year, he was able to join in the fun and have his first Trick or Treating! Since he is tall, he played "the elephant" using the hat Kyle had used for his very first Halloween at 7 months old. The kids' costumes came together at the last minute, using lots of tacky glue and other sneaky techniques but we got lots of compliments!
After Halloween it was already November, and just like that, it was already Thanksgiving in just another week or so! Yasushi's workplace closed for dinner on that day, so I went shopping little by little during the week to amass all the ingredients we needed for our family feast -- a turkey of course (7.99 for a 15 pounder from Safeway with an in app coupon) some mixed wild rices and quinoas for our "stuffing" which is really takikomi wild rice with the turkey neck/tail/giblets, celery and carrots, creamed spinach which was my favorite dish at Boston Market and something unique to my American heritage, some brussels sprouts and corn, and this year instead of having mashed potatoes and doing sweet potato/kabocha pie and the like, I changed it up a little and just threw a bunch of different kinds of sweet potato (traditional orange yams, Japanese yellow satsumaimo, and "local" Okinawan purple) and some kabocha for good measure into the oven all wrapped up in foil when I put the turkey in. And for dessert, we had a special "new" family dish-- pumpkin butter mochi! Kyle has always loved butter mochi, since he was just a baby and his uncle Brandon brought some over and he just couldn't stop eating it!! At his 2nd birthday I made a butter mochi bus-shaped birthday cake with donut tires. And so I thought for our family Thanksgiving it would be appropriate to incorporate this piece of our family culture into the menu, and got us some butter mochi mix, and some canned pumpkin, and did a little adjustment and made it all work.
This year, I worked overnight on Wednesday, plus we were invited to a lunch potluck, so more than ever it was so important to prepare as much as I could ahead of time. On Tuesday I started the dry-brine on the turkey and put it in the nylon baking bag. On Wednesday I made sure all the ingredients were put together and grouped in the fridge, and on Thursday in the hour between coming home and leaving for the potluck I double checked and made sure everything would be ready to shove into the oven and push the "on" button on the pressure cooker when we got home around 1-2pm so I could nap for an hour or so before waking up again to check on things and clean up, and heat up the creamed spinach.
At the potluck, they had a microphone and amp set up for anyone to jump in and do some entertaining. So of course, with a little hesitation, I jumped in and sang a song. Kiyoshi no Zundoko Bushi. And so now everyone at the church knows that I like to sing Enka. I mean it's not something I actively keep a secret, I just never had the opportunity to bring it up, and now even people I don't know already know I sing Enka. After that a bunch of people had brought ukuleles and we had a good old fashioned kanikapila or "jam session", me with my accordion for the first time in years playing with others. It felt good!
Yasushi's friend from work came to have dinner with us and he brought us some wine. And luckily our roommate arrived home before we all passed out so I was able to make her a plate as well.
And just like that, now it's December. We have our Christmas tree up, and I even decorated our balcony door as well! This Sunday is the day of the JLPT test, which I signed up to take the N1 since it's been 10 years already since I passed it the first time.
I feel like the last few years I have lost focus on myself. But now I am getting back to my old passions. And I'm in a place now thanks to my overnight (premium pay) job where I am going to have more time to give the things I used to do another try. Sure, a lot has changed in the 6 years since I became a mom, but we'll see if I can adapt.


NYC and PA Trip!

I secured a new credit card with a bonus miles deal AND 2 free checked bags, and booked our plane tickets, our airport shuttle in Honolulu, our airbnb in Jersey City for the NYC leg, and our rental car for our PA leg. We packed one bag full of goodies from Hawaii and Japan to distribute, and one bag with one weeks worth of clothes, and headed off on our first journey to the East Coast in 7 years, the first time for both of my children.

Our plane ride from Honolulu to Newark Airport was a direct overnight flight which had its good points and bad...Kairu was very fussy on some legs of the flight which led to a tired family arriving in Newark at 6:45 AM, with an airbnb check in time of 4PM. Plus my poor judgement of how difficult a rail journey would be with 2 bags and 2 kids. Somehow we made it, and around 8AM we had dropped off all of our bags and carryons at the airbnb, and were hungry for some good food. Yasushi decided he was up for some dim sum in Chinatown. We ate at Shanghai Joe's, and then went to a nearby park which had an amazing playground and played away the rest of the day until it was time to check in, and promptly went to bed (after moving one of the mattresses to the floor for me and Kairu! 

Our second day in NYC started out cold, and rainy! We were all surprised by the change in weather from hotter and more humid than Honolulu, to the equivalent of our winter! We had some donuts for a snack, then headed up to Harlem hoping to get some gospel and soul food brunch, but the place I wanted to go was closed unexpectedly! Oh well, we enjoyed lunch at a nearby bar and grill which turned out to be pleasantly delicious, and walked around the neighborhood, and played at another park, which again, looked and felt safer and cleaner than the ones around our home in Honolulu. We headed to Times Square, went to the Top of the Rock, enjoyed classic NYC sightseeing, and finished the day off with pizza. 

Today was the day we split off into mom-daughter and father-son teams, because for very good reason, small children aren't allowed into Broadway performances, and Chinami and I had tickets to the matinee of Anastasia the Musical: starring none other than our homegrown Pennsbury High School Thespian Troupe star Christy Altomare! She was a grade below me, and due to the way our high school split into two buildings, we actually were together in productions when I was in 10th and 12th grade. She was always the star, I was always somewhere in the back, we had our separate groups of friends, but definitely saw each other here and there. The show, and her performance, were absolutely amazing! I loved the story and the way they handled the controversy.

We headed straight for the stage door the minute the show was over and I was able to hand over a modest gift (Hawaiian honey and Japanese herbal throat candies) and say hello...we ended up getting all teary eyed...Success comes in many different forms. Some people end up on Broadway with like millions of adoring fans, some  people end up owning a condo in Honolulu, raising two amazing bilingual kids, and getting a moderately well paying job using the skills they went to college for. 
After that, we met back up with the other half of our family, ate street foods for dinner, and went home to sleep and prepare for the next leg of our journey!

Having learned from our dreadful journey through the underground the first time, we decided to order a Lyft to Newark Airport to pick up our rental car. It turned out to be just about the same amount, with a lot less stress. Or so it seemed. When I chose "EWR" as my destination in the app, it asked for my departure information, so I pressed the "skip" button, which I guess just set a generic "airport" destination. When the Lyft driver came, I told him that I was going to Hertz Rental Car, which is in Building 23, that is the address I have on the reservation and on Google. He told me OK, then proceeded to take us to the airport....and try to go to the random spot the app had originally sent.....and then asked me why I had given him that wrong address in the Lyft app. I told him that I was going to Hertz Rental Car, in building 23, not a departure like the app was trying to ask me, so that's why I told him the address when we got in the car. He then proceeded to drive in circles, around random places around the airport, all the while telling me I was wrong for not giving him the right address. I told him multiple times, Hertz, Building 23, and at one point he seemed to put it in his GPS, then deliberately ignored the navigation, then got mad at me again because he couldn't find the destination, he wouldn't listen to the navigation, or me or my husband. It was unbelievable. Then he started to ask his phone "Newark Airport Rental Car" and looking at what came up, Enterprise, National, Dollar, etc. I asked him why he was doing that when I already gave him the name and address of the place where we were going and had a reservation. Finally he just drove to another rental car place, despite Hertz being literally next to it, and we got out because we just couldn't deal with his absolute batshit behavior anymore. I complained to Lyft and got a $10 refund. Even so, I was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe EWR is one of those places that is just a nightmare to navigate, maybe Google doesn't have their maps up-to-date, maybe there was some kind of reason we didn't know about. However, when it was time to return the car, Yasushi (who is very obviously not a local to the Newark Area,) simply put in "Newark Airport, Building 23, Hertz Rental Car" into Google Maps, followed the navigation on the screen which did lead us to one closed road that had a detour, and we got there with no problems. 
We picked up our "new" car, a Nissan Pathfinder, installed the kids car seats, and were on our way to New Hope! We had other plans that fell through due to rain and other issues, so New Hope was a good backup plan. We had a quick lunch at Salt, which was a place I had never gone before but was an amazing little spot with delicious food in a gorgeous setting. After lunch, we headed to Morrisville, which took us through the one street in Yardley, taking in all the sights along the way. 
We got to my family's home, where they had just gotten back from church and were preparing to take us on a visit to my Grandpop's nursing home. Unfortunately, he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and put into a care home earlier this year. He definitely seemed a bit foggy, but I enjoyed seeing him and I could tell he enjoyed spending time with his family, even if he wasn't quite sure who they all were. We also spent time looking at old photos of his from when he was in Japan for military service in his younger days. I bet he never imagined that some day he would have half-Japanese great grandkids! 
We spent the evening at their home until it was time for us to check in to our second "airbnb"...the home of two dear family friends who had been at our wedding and provided a lot of validation and advice for me when I had first started healing and separating from my parents. Even though they are very different from my parents, and their house was not one I had spent a lot of time in, something about it felt very comforting and homey to me, and I was really able to enjoy my time in PA. Of course, after I moved one of the futon mattresses from the other room to the floor of the room that we were all going to sleep in! Co-sleeping as a family takes a little bit of creative planning when travelling in America! 

A combination of cold germs, all the different environments and all the talking and laughing I did with my family led to me having almost no voice on this day! But it was a pretty low-key day with us mostly driving way out into the middle of nowhere (even moreso than the Yardley area) to meet some friends who lived in Reading for a lunch at the Shady Maple Smorgasboard in Amish country. In all my years actually living in Pennsylvania I had never actually gone to Amish country, so it was pretty exciting, and the lunch was the biggest buffet I had ever seen! It was definitely worth the 90 minute drive! After lunch, we took a detour to a cluster of Jewish cemeteries near Philadelphia to look for my grandfather's grave. However, since I had never seen it, and the cemetery was very poorly organized we ended up not being able to find it. I was ready to give up and wait another 7 years or so but Yasushi offered to come again in the morning when the cemetery caretaker would be there. We drove back to the house and went to sleep.

I woke up this morning feeling much better and we headed off to the cemetery again, with a quick stop at WaWa for some various breakfast foods and coffee.
We got to the cemetery and headed to the office, but found the caretaker walking the grounds before we got there. I explained the situation and we went into his office, which was basically a desk with aged photocopies various maps of the plots strewn about, and a small index card filing cabinet which he was rifling through to find my grandfather's grave. He found the little handwritten card and led us to the grave. It was like something out of an old movie, I thought most people had converted their resources to digital but apparently not.
Visiting my Poppy's grave and paying him the last respects I was never able to until now, plus giving him an update and bringing his great grandchildren was an incredibly important and healing experience that I am so grateful I was finally able to have.

After that, since we were near Philadelphia we spent a couple hours in the area by the Art Museum. There was another nice playground there and the kids had a great time. There was a Whole Foods right near there so we stopped by and did a little shopping, and I bought some salad, vegetables, fruits and desserts to bring to my family's place since my uncle was making dinner for us.
We enjoyed a home-cooked meal and quality family time on our last night before our plane ride. Except for being just a little concerned about a hurricane heading up the East Coast towards the Carolinas, and a hurricane hanging around the Pacific as well, it was a very pleasant evening! Chinami loved doing puzzles with her cousins, and Kairu was engrossed in the vintage Thomas trains they brought up from the basement for him.
After dinner, it was time for us to head off to the house again and get a little sleep before our 7AM flight.

After Yasushi and I slept in shifts as to not miss our wakeup time, we loaded the kids in the car, said goodbye to our lovely hosts and headed to the airport. Everything went smoothly this time, Yasushi was able to go straight to the car rental return lot with no "GPS" problems, and from there it was a short distance to our check in and gate. By the time we got to the gate, they had already started boarding and when we got on the plane, it was almost empty due to the hurricane scares. So theoretically we had plenty of room to stretch out and sleep but with 2 kids it sounded a lot easier than it actually was. We got at least a few hours in and the rest of the time was spent watching a lot of in flight movies.

It wasn't what you would call a relaxing vacation, especially with 2 kids, but the experiences and memories we made during this week are such an amazing gift, and so I felt I needed to write it all down. While there were still so many people we wanted to see and so many things we wanted to do, I was satisfied with all of the things we did get done in the week we were on the East Coast.


End of summer!!!

Even though it's always summer in Hawaii, this year was Chinami's first "summer vacation" since she finished her first year of Kindergarten in May. I was lucky enough to be able to enroll her in our local Parks and Rec Summer Fun program which was right within our budget and filled her days with lots of new experiences, friends, and memories.
She turned 6 and had an amazing party during the week (that had a quick burst of drama when our property manager accidentally forgot my reservation for the BBQ area the afternoon of!) followed by a Chuck E Cheese outing with Summer Fun on the actual day of, an outdoor festival seeing her favorite Tongan Sisters singing group and local ukulele players, and then a big mermaid/cosplay/geek meet at the beach to round out the weekend!
This Wednesday, she starts 1st grade. and starting the Monday after that, she will be attending Japanese school on top of her regular school. She's only just turned 6, but she is facing a lot of new challenges and adventures, and growing up so fast.
For the past few months, Chinami has been asking about getting her hair cut. She has not had it cut a single time since she was born--it has just been growing wild all the way down her back! So I made sure that she was serious and secure in her decision, we looked at different hair styles together, and I had her discuss it with her Auntie who happens to own a salon and is extremely talented. We thought about it and decided to cut it in a style that suits her cuteness and her wildness. And since she loves the color purple and has had colored extensions before, I asked her if she wanted a couple purple highlights and she loved the idea. So this past Sunday, we celebrated the milestone-Chinami's first hair cut. I now have 12 inches of beautiful straight brown hair to donate to charity, and Chinami has a layered chin length asymmetrical bob with a bright purple streak framing her face. She looks even more confident and stylish if that's possible. I'm so proud of what a smart, strong and cool girl she has become.
So all the shopping, all the paperwork, all the checks, everything is all done and lined up for the new school year.
And while this has been going on, we've had another plan in the works. Since Kairu was born, and then we got life insurance as well, we've been playing catch-up with finances a little bit, and haven't been able to save up much, but we decided that it was time to stop putting it off indefinitely and take our next family trip--this time to my side of the world, Pennsylvania..with a couple days in NYC for some family fun. It has been almost 7 years since I was there last, and I would really like to see some of my family (mainly my grandparents, who aren't getting any younger..) and friends again, and give my children their first glimpses of some of the scenery and cultures I grew up with.
As for my parents...well, I've waited 6 years now for them to reach out in a positive, empathetic way. They could have contacted me via a public forum, taken me up on one of my many suggestions of family therapy, personal therapy, a diagnostic visit for their peace of mind, etc. They could have shown concern or empathy towards me instead of judgement and hostility. I am always willing to give someone a second chance. However, their silence has told me exactly what they really feel about me and about my whole family. I don't feel any anger towards them anymore. Just sadness and disappointment. And a bit of pity for them, they won't get to meet my amazingly cool daughter and my adorable charming son. Their loss!
So this month I will be securing our lodging for the week, Broadway tickets to see Anastasia (the star just so happens to be someone I went to high school with....) and thinking of all the yummy things I'm gonna eat :D


3 month probation...

As I wrote in my last entry, I started my new job almost three months ago. And it's been so refreshing and rejuvenating! I get along well with everyone, I can improve my Japanese skills, and it really feels like my college degree, experience in Japan, experience here, and life experience in general is really coming in handy.  I also get to have some time to myself, sometimes at night after I put the kids to sleep, sometimes during the day when they are at school, and it's been really great to reconnect with myself. Self-care is so important after spending so many hours of my day tending to others. An hour here or there to watch some TV, drink some wine, eat some chocolate, is such a blessing! 
I was worried about the bicycle ride. It only took me 15 minutes at the most to get to Waikiki. Getting across town seemed impossible! However, thanks to our city's bike lanes, it actually takes me less than 40 minutes. And if I put on some music, it's a pretty enjoyable half hour of solid cardio. So not only do I get higher pay, a more challenging work environment, and room to learn and expand my workload in the future, I get 180 minutes of moderate cardio/week! 
I was worried about staying up for overnight shifts. But the human body is an amazing thing, and if you take the time to make sure it is in good shape, it will reward you by helping you achieve whatever you need to.

After the horrible experience I had renting my room to someone I knew, I have been extra cautious when welcoming new guests into the home, but luckily our family has been blessed with some amazing new connections over the past few months. A wonderful teacher from Switzerland, a young student from Japan who we took in after she was being abused by her homestay hosts, both short visits but their presence had really enriched our home and reaffirmed that having roommates can be a good thing. 

The bad experiences and ups and downs I've been having from last year really showed me that everything happens for a reason. Cleaning up a destroyed guest room was revolting but showed me how bad things can be when you neglect your own physical and mental health. Dealing with the real possibility of losing my job and my family's health insurance forced me to take chances I wouldn't have otherwise thought about, and I came out with a better job. 

I'm glad I finally sat down and typed something out, but I should probably get to sleep. Tomorrow is a busy day. There is a festival at Shirokiya that will be held on every last Sunday, which one of my college friends was instrumental in organizing, that I feel will open some interesting opportunities for me. After that, in my neighborhood there is a party for the Blue Zones Project, a movement dedicated to helping everyone in our city live long, healthy lives by promoting the ideas of fitness, plant-heavy diet, and community. And then after that, we welcome another new roommate who is moving to Hawaii for a year-long work assignment. I hope she enjoys being here, as we will enjoy having her. And of course, since it's a Sunday...that means after everyone is settled in and the kids are asleep...I'm off to work! 


Goodbye, ASAICHI life.

Today, March 24th, was my last day at my job.

Way back when Chinami was born, we were a struggling low income household just trying to make it in Hawaii. I was doing babysitting and freelance translations and transcriptions while being a stay at home mom to Chinami. After she turned 1, I made the decision to start putting her in a preschool and working part-time. However the schedule and cost of preschool was prohibitive to any jobs I could find.
I found a job that made it work. A part-time position at a well known "elite" Japanese travel company. I would start at 4am and finish by noon, and be on a full-time schedule. My title was "ASAICHI", or "morning no. 1!" and my duties were to safely guide our guests to the airport, make sure they boarded their planes to the neighbor islands, and then go back to the office and do office work for a few hours.
My airport duties were very simple and the customers were usually very kind. The office work was a bit more challenging but I enjoyed the mixed Japanese/local environment and got along well with everyone. However my job duties changed after a while, and I was being sent out to "help out" with customer service departments. I felt redundant and not challenged. It was around this time I found out I was pregnant with my son, so I took this as a sign and I reduced my hours to part-time, and concentrated on only doing the airport runs as I would be able to continue these no matter how everyone else's schedules changed.
And I continued with my schedule after Chinami started kindergarten and Kairu started part-time preschool. Yasushi and I coordinated our schedules and for the most part, things went smoothly. I joked that I would probably be doing this job forever.
However, the writing was on the wall. The number of passengers in the bus every day were very gradually getting less, and the cost of the staff and transport was getting to be disproportionate to the amount of profits. My company did what made the most sense, even if it was a difficult decision for us. They contracted my job (and my 3 co-workers' jobs as well) out to a different local company, to combine transport, cut costs, and maximize savings for the customers and profits for the company. And I fully agreed with their decision.
They gave us this news in January. The new contracts would begin April 1st. They also gave us a variety of options so we could decide to stay within the company if we wished, or we could try and find a job somewhere else and they would support us with unemployment papers, etc.
At first, I looked through the job list and shook my head. Mostly 9-5 office jobs. Impossible with kids in school and a chef husband.
I looked elsewhere. There were a lot of jobs I was interested in, such as companions for the elderly, house cleaning, night auditor, overnight security guard, overnight concierge, ESL teaching, but there was always some reason I gave up. I don't have experience, I don't have a driver's license, they never answered my inquiries, etc. Strangely enough at this time, people I had hardly talked to started getting in touch with me again with job opportunities. One fell through almost immediately, and one stayed in limbo for a long time until I was called in for an interview....this was a Japanese teaching position in a private high school. I made it until a final interview with the head director of the school, but in the end the position was offered to one of the other candidates, possibly because I didn't have specific high school Japanese teaching experience. At this point, it was March. I started to get anxious.
If everything else failed and I was desperate.....well there was always the supermarket and the fast food places down the road to put in overnight shifts.
I looked at the job list the HR rep had given to me. There was one position that sounded intriguing. A call center. With overnight shifts. But native level Japanese ability was required. It sounded pretty difficult, but maybe possible.
I started getting super stressed over the possibility of losing our family's insurance even temporarily. If I become unemployed or underemployed, we would be without insurance, ineligible for Medicare but still struggling, and the only choice would be for Yasushi to take a pay cut to get insurance through his job.
I went to the interview, and got the job offer 2 days later. And they offered me an hourly pay that was higher than my current job, and higher than many of the other jobs I had been considering.
So yes, it was a very rough couple of months and it was not helping my anxiety and depression, but I pressed on and I never gave up on myself, the job search or my mental and physical health. Just like most of the difficult experiences I've had, I can learn from it and keep building and growing.
And now I feel like I am free from that lifestyle I was living for the past 4 years. Every day, I had to make sure I slept before 9PM at the latest, or else I would be extremely anxious about my ability to wake up for work. Because unlike a normal wake-up routine, I also had to take care to wake up as quietly as possible as not to disturb my family. Even on my days off, I had to take care to keep a similar sleep schedule, or else it would mess up my body's rhythm. I rarely went out after dark, even for kid-friendly events. And not being home in the mornings, even on holidays, meant I had to say "no" to a few school and social obligations as well. So even though I'm sure the next 3 months of probation/new job training will be pretty hectic, and the start of my overnight shifts as well, plus a 4 mile commute by bike will be pretty exhausting as well, but I will have a lot more freedom in my schedule with this new job.
I'll miss my 3 co-workers, the rest of the office, and all the drivers and staff at Hawaiian Airlines, Airport Security, TSA, etc. etc. Everyone was so friendly!
My first day is tomorrow, an 11 hour shift! I think I will go to bed a little later than usual tonight. And then I will wake up a little later. I think I'll enjoy that.


Missle Scare

On the morning of Saturday, January 13th 2018, just as I was getting back to the office from another day of airport send-offs at my job, my phone went off.


I paused. Looked at my phone. Two of the office workers were chattering on the phone worriedly, I showed them my phone and they nodded, continuing to call around and try and decide what they, our other office workers, and our customers should do next.

I fiddled with my phone and opened my radio app, turning on 105 KINE. Then our local NPR station. Both were playing music as usual.

My husband called me. He asked me what was happening. I explained that the warning told us to take shelter, but there was no way to get a live update. He told me KHON was not doing any live newscast. We agreed that in any event, being together was most important so I prepared to hurry home.

However, the lack of live updates struck me as odd in such an immediate emergency situation.  I quickly set up our little analog FM radio I had at my desk and spun my way through all the stations that would come in, only hearing music and commercials. It was now maybe 5 minutes since the initial alert message.

I walked out of the building and before unlocking my bike, decided that if I was gonna go, might as well have my last words be something nice. So I tweeted.

"If this is my last tweet let it be known I love my family and ohana 🚀😭🌈"

Then I saw Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's announcement that it was a false alarm.

I called my husband to let him know and was able to breathe easily and ride home normally.

Updates from our local news media, TV, radios, etc and the follow up alert to our phones did not come still for another 15, 20, even 30 minutes after the initial alert.
Even though I am grateful that it was a false alarm, I feel that this kind of response is unacceptable. We can do better. People were panicking, speeding on roads, putting children in manholes, calling loved ones, etc.

I was brought up in the '90's, when Internet was a new thing. For someone my age, common sense dictates that in an emergency you should be listening for further updates and instructions from your local news or radio. The actual instructions after the monthly tests also state this.

Yesterday we were let down by our media. Shame on our TV stations and our radio DJs who just continued with the car lot commercials and slack key guitar hits while people panicked.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard proved herself as a competent politician, leader, reporter to the people, and decent human being when she went on Twitter to quickly send out the confirmation that it was a false alarm as soon as she knew about it, citing her sources. I hope she runs for President someday, she's got my vote. However she now has a substantial burden on her shoulders now should we ever get a similar alert in the future, because I am not the only one who realized that in an emergency, our local TV and radio stations will most likely let us down, while real reporters take to Twitter and social media to convey the latest information.

I guess times are changing.