Saturday, December 18, 2010

The One About the 2 W's...

Greetings from America's windy city - Seattle!

After a full day of wandering the hilly streets of the University of Washington area, I'm back in my sister's cozy apartment incredibly full and slightly congested... I'm in need of a great weekend and nothing reenergizes me like family. Two things have been on my mind lately: 1) Work 2) Weight

1) The firm recently announced annual promotions and I decided to work my tail off so I'm the lucky recipient of a new title and pay raise next year. And while I'm willing to put in the 60+ hours/week to get ahead, I'm anxious about the significant opportunity cost: social/active life. Sounds trivial, right? I thought so too... Except I was free last weekend and could only think of two friends (not related to me) that I still somewhat keep in touch with. I ended up catching up on tv shows on hulu/DVR instead... My dvr never complains about my lack of attentiveness... haha. But the question remains, how important is work-life balance at this stage of my life?

2) I started going to the gym last week. It's fairly obvious that I gained 20+ lbs... And while I've been relying on my broad shoulders and great height to hide this weight, I really need to eat better and incorporate Uli's exercise regimen. He's in great shape (good) but knows it (not good haha).... But I am more resolved after weighing myself on the gym scale - a balance beam type medical scale I've used at various hospitals. I stepped on and exhaled as much air as possible hoping to lose a pound or so. As I set the bottom notch to 250 (TMI, I know...) and began pushing the top notch to my usual weight area (without breathing...), the balance did not move. So I nudged the top notch another 5 lbs, and the balance remained still. Beginning to panic (still without new oxygen), I finally nudged it another 10 lbs before the balance began evening out. As I gasped for air, I recalled every over-indulgent meal this summer including the large Papa Johns pizza I polished off the night before...

So that's what I'm dealing with... (awkward transition, I know...) But I'm excited for the holidays. Not entirely sure about my plans yet. But I am definitely going to Miami on Jan 1st for the Orange Bowl on Jan 3rd. Until then, you can find me at work and Planet Fitness until the gym scale, new indicator of my life, balances out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The One About Thankgiving...

Thanksgiving is over. Halleluia!!! Since I moved to Salt Lake City two years ago, Thanksgiving has been more about surviving than celebrating. In ‘08, my sleep deprived self had no choice but to dominate other Black Friday shoppers (reminiscent of Shaq circa 1999 when everyone joined the ‘Fakers’ bandwagon…) in order to walk/run away with a 48-inch Samsung LCD flat-screen tv. I still feel bad for the littered bodies leading to the Walmart cash register... haha.

Last year, I came home from a Thanksgiving dinner only to discover the front door wide open. My Wii, Apple laptop and hard earned Samsung tv were stolen. Damn you, Karma! To make matters worse, SLC police and I were bested by a mastermind thief. After dusting my living room for an hour, the police could not discern a single print or clue. Ugh - even my own detective skills developed after reading the entire Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew series as a child failed me. I thought we'd at least find a shoe print or hair follicle... haha.

This year, my mom and sister Rochelle flew in for the holiday. Along with both brothers (and Uli's family) we almost had the entire family together - a rare feat for a family of seven living in four different cities. And boy did we relish every second of this past weekend. Highlights include:

FOOD - Thanksgiving Lunch! Cocoa Rice (Samoan dessert) for midnight snack! Trifle! With my sister's cooking on point, I need to get on a(nother) diet asap.

BONDING - We talked and laughed about everything. And nothing brings people together like shopping in Park City till 4:30am. That includes an hour spent looking for my sister...

I truly enjoyed this Thanksgiving weekend and am extremely grateful for my family. We have such a deep-rooted history that has bound us to each other. And we're learning about each as adults now. This is a new experience for us. As my mom and sister return back to Samoa and Seattle, I can't wait to see them again in February.

Until then, I still have a large bowl of leftover potato salad to eat - reminder of a thanksgiving I survived and thoroughly enjoyed. Take care, fam.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The One About the Over Protective Cousin...

I grew tired of waiting for my cousin and stomped upstairs to my room. It was almost 1:00am and I desperately needed to sleep. It didn't help that my coworkers recently confused my bloodshot eyes and lackluster energy as symptoms of substance abuse. Sure stereotype the brown guy, mofos... But my irritation quickly subsided when I looked out of my bedroom window. Under the shadows of my Fir tree (It's not a Fir but I pretend it is...), I saw my younger female cousin making out with her "male friend". Thank goodness for the street lamp outside my window!

I honestly didn't know what to do. I considered running out of my house brandishing a shovel... But it was so cold! And I would probably have to look for my slip-on blue Chucks first... But then again, she is 22 years old and technically an adult. What right did I have to bust in on her life? I looked again and saw him maneuvering her onto the hood of his minivan (yes, minivan!?!). I didn't care anymore. I slid my rusty window open and yelled out, "Hey! That's enough! Come inside NOW."

We spent another hour discussing why she shouldn't be alone with him. She mentioned seeing him again the next night. I countered that the Devil would be joining them. Way harsh, Tai... (Clueless anyone?) But I'm looking out for her best interests. I hope this isn't indicative of the stress I'll feel as a father... Because next time, the shovel and I will be ready.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The One About London...

After five days in London, it's great to be back in Salt Lake City. Actually, it's not that great because I have decided to move from Salt Lake City... haha whoa spoiler alert! But my trip was truly that inspiring. As mentioned in an earlier blog, my cousin's husband plays for the 49ers - which scheduled one of their season games in London. I was asked to accompany my cousin as it was her first time to Europe. In exchange for my time, I would be compensated with my own room at the same 5-star hotel as the 49ers. Seriously, Universe!?!

After arriving to Heathrow Airport, Tumua and I ate up Central London like hungry orphans. We sampled crepes near the London Eye, studied the beautiful facade at Westminster Abbey, watched the (albeit awkward) changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, took a break at Trafalgar Square but re-energized after some shopping in Picadilly Circus. Include a late dinner with my cousin and her husband at the JW Marriott steakhouse, we readily retired to bed waking up the next day at 11:30am. Holy jet lag! And instead of painting the town red (again), Tumua and I met up and lazed around till dinner catching up on our respective lives. And I learned something new about my cousin: the inherent difficulty of being a football wife. You try raising three children while being married to an NFL player. That's one unpredictable variable.

Our remaining time in London was a blur of great laughs and a reunion with a city I am in love with. Highlights include:

"I'm having an ah-mazing time here in lahn-dohn"
- Isaac practicing his british accent at a fan rally in Trafalgar Square

"This side yell 'Kamete Kamete' and this side will yell 'Kaura Kaura'"
- Isaac teaching fans the All Blacks haka before freestyling maori-esque moves during their chant

"Troy Smith is a great guy"
- 49er rookie Mike Iupati's nervous answer to the question, how do you like blocking for Troy Smith?

"Before trying any more restaurants, we should ask if they have taste buds first"
- Tumua's response to a dining recommendation after bad initial experiences at local restaurants

Lastly, I realized that it's time to move! Unsure as to a specific destination but I'm giving myself 18 months to find a new place. And London is definitely in the mix... Any suggestions?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The One About A Grocery Checker...

Last night, I planned every second until my trip to London tomorrow night: Up this morning at 6am. Caught the 6:40am bus to work. Hustled till 5:30pm. Hit the gym at 5:45pm. Picked up my dry cleaning at 7:15pm... What I hadn't planned on was a detour to Fresh Market - the local grocery store I've been shopping at since moving to Rose Park two and a half years ago. Technically, I should shop at Super Savers - only three blocks away but the store makes me nervous. It's slightly too ethnic (read: ghetto) for me... haha. I swear their merchandise is from the 90's...

Anyways, as I walk into Fresh Market I immediately notice how bare the store looks. After being welcomed to the store (by what seemed like the manager), I ask if the store is being renovated. The manger responds that Fresh Market is going out of business. Crazy! Except my cheap self realizes: LIQUIDATION SALE! So I literally snatch the closest basket and hustle through the store quickly checking out discounted price tags. And I was not disappointed! 5 frozen pizzas for $5? 6 boxes of cereal for $10? Large frozen pumpkin pie for $3? I don't even like pumpkin pie but in my basket it went!

As the cashier rang up my loot, I eyed the register to ensure all of the discounts applied correctly. During this intense moment of concentration, I managed to ask when the store was closing.

"Friday night at 8pm", she responded.

"Will there be more discounts on Friday?", I asked. Sometimes I even surprise myself with how smart/cheap I am. Because I was already trying to decide which of my two brothers would be here Friday morning... And how I would be able to monitor their shopping from London...

"No - this is it.", she said while scanning more frozen pizzas. My plan to talk to Toniu tonight suddenly fizzled...

"So, will they move you to another location?", I asked still sad that there wouldn't be another sale.

"No, we're out of a job after friday. That'll be $26.55.", she said looking directly at me.

I quickly swiped my credit card and wished her luck but I couldn't stop thinking about her situation on my way home. I can definitely empathize having lost two jobs last year. But what if she can't recover from this? I saw financial analysts discussing the recent upswing of our economy on CSPAN today, but they failed to determine when these increased profit margins would eventually trickle down to my soon-to-be-unemployed cashier. Of course, I should be grateful for the recent jobs I've found since. Yet I can't help but wonder how I can avoid being laid off in the future. What do I need to do to ensure that my particular skill set and developed expertise are not expendable in today's volatile market?

Great, something else to think about. But at least I have my frozen pizza and pumpkin pie to help me figure it out... haha. Lastly, G'luck Cashier 4! Neither of us planned on this happening and yet we are presented with an opportunity to create something bold and new.

Trip across the pond starts in 21 hours... Hopefully, I don't come back with a bri-ish accent... haha.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The One That Took So Long...


Slept over at my cousin's house last night and am the first to wake up this morning. Wish I could sleep in like everyone else but I struggle sleeping anywhere else but my bed... After checking my gmail, facebook, (do it!), I realize I haven't blogged in almost two months. Whoa... How did that happen?!

But after reading the last couple blog entries, thought I'd update on some of them.

It didn't work out with Lolita and Lloyd (read here). Lloyd didn't respond well to my fb msg. I think he thought I was crazy. No homie, you're the crazy one for not liking Lolita. And is it really that random? Has he never seen a Hollywood romance movie/lifetime made-for-tv movie? I probably burnt that bridge... but oh well, flame on! hahaha.

My cousin Elder Lehi Kakiva is in town before beginning his LDS Mission on weds. It blows my mind that he's about to leave for two years. I can tell he's def ready. Still debating on a present for him...

My younger brother and his fam slept over friday night. It was great to see them including my sister-in-law. I had dvr'd the first two episodes of Glee so we watched it together with my brothers over McDonald's 50-piece chicken mcnuggets. I swear, McDonalds really brings families together. We could have easily looked like a commercial for the golden arches... haha. Prob better than the urban direction their ads have been going lately...

It's been 3 months since I've traveled internationally. It's a personal goal of mine to explore a new country every 3-4 months. I think it's a result of watching Carmen San Diego (animation and game show) as a child. I spoke with my cousin Tumua - who's husband plays for the San Francisco 49ers. The team has an exhibition game in London against the Broncos on Halloween. So guess who's going??? ME! Very exciting because I can visit Oxford - where I spent 4 months attending Oxford University.

This month's goals:

MORE: sleep, exercise, housework, church
LESS: eating, spending $$$, tv

Until next time, gumshoe! (Anyone get the reference?)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The One About A Sad Love Song...

Around 3:30pm on Sunday, I woke up (from my midday nap...) to my phone's jarring ring tone. Groggily, I answered the phone and was surprised to hear from a close friend I haven't seen in a month. Fifteen minutes later, I'm enjoying Panda Express' orange chicken and catching up on the last month. We discussed work, our families and upcoming vacations. After a slightly awkward silence with which I could tell my friend was mulling over something, she decided to break the news about a relationship I had known about. For privacy reasons, let's call my friend "Lolita" (I'm a fan of the name...).

Through some random occurrences, Lolita started talking to a guy she somewhat knew in the Bay Area. Over facebook/text messaging, Lolita and "Lloyd" began a friendly relationship sharing their favorite foods, movies and dislikes. Eventually, they evolved to using Skype to discuss more personal perspectives on marriage, children and religion. Within the course of three months, Lolita and Lloyd talked almost daily. Lolita once texted (in typical dramatic fashion) Lloyd that she was so upset and wanted to die. He believed her and called clearly upset that she could even contemplate suicide. And so Lolita began thinking Lloyd had deeper feelings for her. Even more surprising, Lolita realized she truly cared for Lloyd.

Now that we're all on the same page, let's return to me eating orange chicken... I'm pouring more soy sauce on the (slightly dry) fried rice when Lolita explains her recent visit to the Bay Area. She ends up meeting up with Lloyd. Mind you reader, this is the first time they've interacted in person. While conversing delectable topics, Lloyd tells Lolita that he is trying to get back with his ex-girlfriend. KABOOM! Lloyd never mentioned this particular ex. POW! Lloyd never mentioned he still liked another girl. BAM! Lloyd never mentioned he even liked Lolita. And after taking this street fighter worthy combo, Lolita tells Lloyd that she genuinely likes him. And had the feeling he liked her too. To which Lloyd apologizes because he thought they were just friends. Agh! The dreaded f-word.... Except our heroine will not be overcome. Lolita confidently tells Lloyd that she is an amazing woman with much to offer. And he could be that special beneficiary if he chose to be. Awesome comeback!

While writing this blog, I could possible analyze gender differences in dating, distance relationships, addition of polynesian culture and other variables associated with this particular situation. But what would that lead to? How is this significant? Lolita reminded me this afternoon that she would be be back in the Bay Area this weekend to watch a broadway musical. Lolita had no intention of letting Lloyd know that she would be back in town.

Instead of only discussing this tragic love story on my blog, I decided to add myself as the protagonist. Or possibly antagonist depending on the outcome... I could not let Lolita visit the Bay Area without an attempt at a happy ending. About 15 minutes ago, I facebook messaged Lloyd telling him Lolita would be in town this weekend. I told Lloyd that I understand his platonic feelings for Lolita. Sometimes the most obvious answers are always the closest - we simply have not yet recognized it's true worth. I encouraged Lloyd to view Lolita differently this time.

Was I wrong to meddle? Possibly... But I wasn't going to be another blogger discussing why men are from mars and women are from... I think you get my point. And if you're reading this, Lolita, consider me one of those smooth djs playing Sunday night love songs. I'm a romantic at heart, spinning grooves hoping the perfect woman and the right man connect. Good luck this weekend! You know where to take me for another update...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The One About A Patient Missionary...

Two minutes ago, I listened to my cousin Lehi Kakiva announce (over speaker phone) that he's been called to serve a (LDS) service mission in New Jersey. Not gonna lie, my immediate thought was visiting him between fist pumping nights out at Jersey Shore... haha. But as I congratulated him on his call and choice to labor for our church, I was struck with how long Lehi as been attempting to serve a mission.

I first became acquainted with Lehi as he lived with our cousins in San Jose. I was living in the Bay Area and would visit frequently. Lehi was hoping to prepare for his mission while living with our cousins as his own family struggled with the church. This was in 2005. Lehi was 19.

I moved to Hawaii in 2007. Lehi was living in Maui with our Aunt. He was helping care for his grandma and working with an uncle. We talked occasionally and I continually asked about his progress towards serving a mission. He said it was his goal and was trying to save up money as a 2-year mission is costly. In 2008, I moved to Salt Lake City and Lehi followed suit months later. In fact, we lived together with our uncle. We instantly developed a brotherly bond. While living with our uncle, we cleaned and completed chores together, worked part-time jobs and cycled through various fitness regimens. I moved out two months later but continued to remain close to Lehi until he moved to Los Angeles in 2009. We kept in touch and he always spoke about going on a mission to which I joked that he would never go since so much time had passed.

I did not serve a mission. Instead, I decided to pursue an education. To this day, I have always wondered how different my life would have been had I gone a mission - an expectation for all worthy men in my church. And while I still have an opportunity to go now, I thought that my adult life did not need a two year hiatus. My career, wife and family could not wait that long. And I shared my rationale with Lehi.

Earlier this year, Lehi moved back to Hawaii with his family. He's helped them immensely, both financially and spiritually. When he called me this afternoon and that he wanted me to hear him announce his mission call, I felt incredibly proud and yet slightly ashamed for mocking his goal earlier. In the last 5 years, Lehi slowly maneuvered himself into this position. He's the turtle with the slow and steady pace. As our own choices lead us on pathways to various rewards, I know Lehi will be rewarded for his efforts. He can overcome any obstacle as a battle-tested servant. Good luck Elder Kakiva! Because I know you won't, I'll say it for you:

Told you so.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The One About An In-Law...

Apologies blogsters but I've been unbelievably busy with work, which I think will be the subject of my next blog. I also just reread some of my past blog entries. They’re terrible! Maybe it’s because I haven’t defined my perspective... I'll try to work on that.

Last weekend, I spent a considerable amount of time with my family. My mom was in town for a week and both my brothers made an effort to spend time with her and each other. My recently married younger brother brought along his new wife and child. Because both of my brothers were married in non-traditional conventions (read: eloping), I've never really had that period during their courtship to develop a relationship with their wives. And since both of my sisters are single, I've never had to really deal with sibling in-laws. I decided last weekend to cultivate a relationship.

My younger brother and I are an interesting pair with numerous similarities. We have similar humors (his is slightly blonde at times...) and share a passion for reading, bacon cheeseburgers, food in general, athletics and tv shows. I think us being the younger children of five have allowed us to bond in a way unique from the rest of my siblings. If I'm close with my brother, I wondered; how close would I be to his wife?

Turns out Uli's wife is slightly reserved at first yet incredibly sociable when comfortable. We spent last weekend bonding over tv shows (Glee, sytycd, Cupcake Wars) and exchanging stories over great food. I understand that an adjustment is needed when joining another family - especially a close knit unit. But I hope, in time, we're more than just in-laws. I'm interested to see how her personality and character diversify our family for the better. Welcome to the tribe, sis.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The One About Mi Amigo Sam...

Arguably considered unpatriotic, I spent my July 4th weekend in Guadalajara, Mexico visiting my oldest friend. In 1991, my family moved to Hau’ula, Hawaii as my eldest sister, Rochelle was attending Brigham Young University-Hawaii. It was at Laie Elementary that I met… Sam Moe. Duhn Duhn Duhhhhhhn. Haha.

Sam, to this day, claims that I had a fob/kiwi accent when I greeted him with a friendly, Cowabunga dude! (I was a teenage mutant ninja turtle fan…) in 2nd grade. A year later, Sam and I enrolled in an after-school Spanish class. We were the only two students truly dedicated to learning a language deemed exciting and exotic, both characteristics absent from a

predominantly Pacific Island community. We even continued studying Spanish as part of a handful of 8th graders taking High School Spanish. The class allowed us to have High School Lunch – which separated us socially from the our intermediate peers. Can you imagine how cool we thought we were?

Sam recently graduated from Brigham Young University. He decided to cap off his collegiate career with a six-week study abroad program in Guadalajara, Mexico. And I jetted off to spend his last weekend there with him. On Saturday, July 3, 2010, I met Sam in front of the Catedral in Plaza Tapatia (see left). This time, he looked like a fob with his Mexcian moustache. haha. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of him. Check facebook! We spent the rest of the weekend listening to the most amazing Mariachi band, exploring Guadalajara on the bus (kinda amazing!), shopping, attending the local ward (entirely in Spanish!), hanging out with Sam's host family, and eating everything! Seriously, I couldn't believe how great and cheap the food was. One of my favorites? Torta Ahogada, a unique bread made only in Guadalajara with beef drenched in a creamy tomato sauce.

Despite my attempt at Mexico becoming a relaxing getaway from Salt Lake City, I couldn't escape certain issues that have been recently consuming my life. Namely, determining my optimal career and navigating singledom. Sam, at this point of his life, is a throwback to my own transition from college student to real world adult. His plans include moving back to Hawaii and finding work within a non-profit organization. Normal, right? Except Sam shared his anxiety from the immense pressure of moving home as an adult -- hoping to achieve his life's goals. Whoa! I considered Sam's experiences along with my own and wondered: faced with endless opportunities, is it natural to fear the unknown? What a relief to learn that I was no exception to this feeling.

As my last night drew to an end in Guadalajara, Sam and I enjoyed (ridiculously cheap) dessert overlooking Plaza Tapatia. Sometimes the world seems unbelievably large. Maybe too large for comfort. From what I gathered that weekend, a balcony seat is the perfect remedy. As I admired the plaza fountain and lighted buildings, the rest of this large city was forgotten. My view narrowed my focus allowing me to truly enjoy the simple wonder before me. Funny how perception manipulates reality. Good luck to you, Sam. Your own balcony seat awaits you. Hasta luego mi amigo!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The One About Operation 30...

On thursday, I had dinner with some friends at my place. One of my friends admitted to dating someone we didn't know. Of course, we looked up his pretty little teine (girl) on facebook. Not bad... Before I realized what was happening, my friends started perusing my pictures. From 2003. When I was skinny skinnier. All of a sudden, judging pictures wasn't so fun...

Today, I decided to start Operation 30 - losing 30 pounds in the next 2 months. I've been wanting to get back to my lean-mean-fighting-machine size. And now would be the best time to start. So after ditching church yesterday 15 mins early to pick up cousin Pono, we headed out to Chuckarama (Utah's best all you can eat buffet) for my final feast.

For those interested in my regimen, Operation 30 is a combination of exercise (weights, yoga, running, tennis) and a diet of healthy foods, protein shakes, and twice-daily vitamins. Let me know if you have any questions. Wish me luck!

In 2003...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The One About Gleeful Alaska...

Before deciding to blog during a cold, rainy night, I was struck with two major realizations. First, I'm so exhausted that I have dark circles under my eyes. Second, it's FRIDAY! I swear it was Tuesday yesterday...

Exactly a week ago, I visited Caryn Kunz Lesuma in Fairbanks, Alaska. Caryn and I grew up in the same town but became friends in college. Besides having common Hawaii roots, Caryn and I shared the same faith, sang together in an a capella group, and collided into a number of adventures that only happen in movies. During my freshman year, I decided to choreograph a Samoan dance for our college lu'au. Days before the lu'au, Caryn hurt her arm rollerskating (probably on a date). With her arm in a sling, Caryn could not dance in the lu'au. Instead, she spent the night in my room hemming the dancer's costumes (while I napped) and single handedly drenched dancers with baby oil prior to the show. I think she even used her good hand to fill in as the bass drummer during our number...

My visit with Caryn and her husband Vaughn exceeded my expectations. I ate amazing quantities - bacon burgers, nachos, baby back ribs, 2 lbs of spaghetti, pizza, marshmallow cereal - spent an afternoon soaking in the Chena Hot Springs, visited an Ice Museum, watched an Arena Football Game, skipped church to watch a movie, visited the North Pole, took a semi-risque picture on Santa's chair, and ran a full mile in crisp Alaskan air. More importantly, we talked and exchanged experiences, insights, future plans and advice.

Still dazed with the adjustment of being back in SLC, I was excited to catch the season finale of Glee. I've been following the show religiously since it's pilot episode and am a proud Gleek. Despite the crazy theatrics of a baby birthing spliced into the dazzling rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (yes, the show is that crazy!), I was moved by the group's distress at not placing at Regionals resulting in the Glee Club being disbanded. Realizing how much their relationships meant now that club was over, Schuester's advice provided no comfort.

''One day, all of you are gonna be gone, and all of this, all of us, will be nothing but a hazy memory.''

My friend, Vanity told me last night that friends resolve temporary voids. Once fulfilled, the friend is no longer necessary. I couldn't disagree more. My experiences in Alaska prove that my friendship with Caryn is still as nurturing as ever. Sure, the extent of our friendship has changed. I've only really seen her once or twice this year. But I measure friendships by the ease and ability to fall into a natural social rhythm already established. Last week, during those four days, I relived four years of college while created new memories that are anything but hazy. Thanks Car Ku.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The One About A Fanged Bride...

I was enthralled with Shoney Hixson the first time I saw her. In October of 2002, she soloed Take 7's, Gonna Love You Right in full vampire regalia. As much as I loved that song, I was completely distracted by her blood red lips and sharp fangs. You try saying, Gonna Love You Right, and imagine how much sexier you'd be with fangs. I should know, I bought fang implants the next day and tried it out. haha. Okay, I really didn't. But I regret not trying...

Fast forward to this past Saturday and I'm watching Shoney glide down the aisle of First Presbytarian church in Oklahoma City. The rest of the wedding carried on quickly and my backup wife (if we're not married by 30, we're taking the plunge) and I drove to the reception excited to start celebrating. Highlights: Shoney's surprise musical number, being adopted by Shoney's Aunt Janet, racy pictures in the photo booth, open bar, amazing wedding cake.

As part of the wedding party, I could not deny the genuine love between Shoney, Ray and their loved ones. It was truly a pure union of two individuals and their families. Congrats again! I hope Shoney took my advice. I recommended her taking fang implants to Aruba for their honeymoon... hahaha.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The One About Popped Balloons...

Life P.A (Post Arrest...) has been a non-stop roller coaster ride - half tea cup ride from Disney and half Goliath from Six Flags. Good News: Cleared warrant (see last post regarding arrest) for only $50. Bad News: Canceling trip to India with friends, Tyrone and Vaman. We had planned this trip since February. I was most excited at waking up in Bangalore to the smell of curry and cinnamon, strolling past exotic street vendors or occasional snake charmer, and waiting for a Bollywood musical number to spontaneously evolve from the beat of a simple bongo drum.

Yeah yeah, I know. All Indian cliches... But I'd gladly join in on the 2nd 8-count of that Bollywood routine if it ever happened. haha.

At my church's Family Home Evening (weekly program designed to strengthen individual and communal relationships) on Monday night, we were split into four teams and forced to construct a tower using balloons and tape. The catch? Teams had to do this all while remaining completely silent. A representative from each team received the instructions/materials and attempted to mime directions to the team. As one of the moderators, I was to monitor my team and pop a balloon each time they made a noise. And of course, I took my job seriously. Sorry team, even sighing is a noise. POP. Saying sorry to me? POP. In total, I popped six balloons. And the completed tower looked more like a misshapen upright hook... But I was more intrigued with my group's behavior. Every balloon popped did not ever detract them from building the tower. Sure, they glared at me like they wanted to pop me. But they did not once turn on each other or the noise offender - what I had believed was inherent human behavior. They were more concerned with the larger picture regardless of minor setbacks.

With all that's happened in the last two weeks, it seems like I've only been hearing the sound of balloons popping. Phone lost? POP. Car Impounded? POP. Losing ticket to General Conference? POP. Extremely embarrassed at being arrested in front of coworkers and knowing it circuited the ranks, I took time off from work to lay low at home. Combined with other self-punishing behavior as a result of these setbacks, I'm relieved to learn that this behavior is really detrimental to my progress. My reaction to these mistakes is my own choice. It took popping balloons for this realization to surface. Here's to constant education and hoping I actually make it to India someday. Anyone want to meet me at Star of India for lunch in the meantime? My treat.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The One About Salt Lake County Jail

Exactly three hours ago, I ran out of Salt Lake County Jail thrilled with the falling snow, fresh air and bright moon. Freedom is amazing, I thought. For exactly 4.5 hours tonight, yours truly was locked up in jail. That's right, jail. But I'm getting ahead of myself. And like Julie Andrews sang in Sound of Music, Let's Start From the Very Beginning...

I was eating dinner with friends when we were interrupted by a colleague regarding an urgent matter. I followed him to two policemen, who notified me of an outstanding warrant from a year ago. As a result, they would be arresting and escorting me to the Salt Lake County Jail. While they continued talking about bail and possibly spending the night in jail, I was hit with the full realization that this wasn't some cheap punk'd practical joke. After promising to be discreet, they slapped handcuffs on me and marched me to their car in plain site of my coworkers, friends and random strangers staring at me like I was a national threat.

Fast forward to being handcuffed to a rail in a holding cell. Still in a shocked I-Can't-Believe-This-Is-Happening-To-Me state, I became aware of my five prison mates. There were two African American males, two Arab-looking males, and the fifth was a Caucasian female. In complete silence, we waited as the jail officials individually conducted a body search. I was wearing overalls at the time and panicked because I was only wearing boxer briefs beneath them. This led to a very nervous confession forcing the searcher to awkwardly pat me down without removing my overalls...

Led to the"Pit", I was directed to the wall of phones and realized that I had to let someone know I was in jail. Not having memorized too many phone numbers, I called my cousin, Pono and asked him to call friend, Tiffany for a ride. If I were released... After taking mugshots, fingerprints, and sitting in three different holding cells, I had my pretrial. Turns out, I had received a ticket a year ago for a broken tail light. Because I had not paid the ticket, I was charged for vehicle equipment requirement. Even my pretrial admin could not believe the silliness of my arrest. She immediately issued my release papers and I returned to my group excited to be leaving. Unfortunately, not everyone in my group was as lucky. One of the African Americans has 5 felony and 3 misdemeanor charges. The other had 5 different traffic warrants. Both would be spending 1-6 months in jail. In order to take my mind off their news, I began watching the news interested to see who got kicked off American Idol when mugshots of the 2 Arabs were shown. They were arrested by the FBI for a credit/debit card skimming scam in Richmond, Utah. Check it out!

To think that I was handcuffed and held in the same room as these criminals for a BROKEN TAIL LIGHT is CRAZY!

Lesson learned. After enjoying my freedom and slowly gaining closure on tonight, I realized that I need to be accountable. That night I was ticketed, I drove my car knowing full well that my lights were a lil shady. However, I thought it would be fine. After receiving the ticket, I promised to pay but forgot as I didn't think the consequences would be that severe. Especially after discovering that ticket was only a measly $50. Definitely a bargain compared to the embarrassment and jail time it eventually evolved into. To make a long story short, I either need to step it up or move out of Utah. I'm gunning for the former but the latter seems more appealing.

Shout out to my fellow Pit/jailmates - Robert, Lavon, Steve, Scott and (especially) Amber. You all made my first (and hopefully last!) experience truly unforgettable.

And I'm hoping this jail time ups my street cred. Maybe I should release an album based on my time in the joint... hahaha.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The One About Taking Control...

v. strug·gled, strug·gling, strug·gles
1. To exert muscular energy, as against a material force or mass.
2. To be strenuously engaged with a problem, task, or undertaking.
3. To make a strenuous effort; strive: struggled to be polite.
4. To contend or compete.
5. To progress with difficulty.

I have STRUGGLED writing this week's blog. Not sure if it's a result of the crappy weather or that I've been insanely busy with work and neglected my other responsibilities. I almost posted a blog about feeling uninspired and totally overwhelmed at the same time. Does that make sense? Instead, I decided that the 26-year old 2010 version of me wasn't going to cry over spoiled milk. Instead, I'm making cheese! (haha... lame, I know!) Despite my distaste for Salt Lake City and it's lack of anything really fun, I researched 5 amazingly fun things that I can do here in the valley.

And now you might be asking, "Pray tell, what more does SLC have to offer that I don't already know?"

Well... creatively-challenged friend, my (5) answers are below:

1) Trappist Monastery Retreat - Located about 20 minutes north of Salt Lake City are monks maintaining over 4000 years of Roman Catholic teachings. More interesting are the retreats held at the Monastery from which retreatants can fast, reflect and participate in chants without a planner, cell phone or computer. Think Karate Kid meets the Real World. And could you see me chanting with Monks??? Cost: FREE!

2) Sweet Candy Factory Tour - As a devoted Willy Wonka fan (although not so much of the oompah loompahs), what could be better than a 45-minute tour of the Sweet Candy Factory? Free candy samples included. Hopefully I don't turn into a giant blueberry... Cost: FREE!

3) Gay Bingo - Alright, I am open-minded and comfortable enough to try this out. And bingo is one of my favorite gambling games... Referred by my cousin Ui, Gay Bingo occurs every third friday and hosted by over-the-top drag queens Ruby Ridge and Friends. Probably the most un-SLC activity here. Plus, imagine me competing again someone named Ruby Ridge... Cost: $5

4) Utah Olympic Oval - Eight years after hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Oval is home to indoor skating/hocking/soccer. But more importantly, it has crazy extreme rides compensating for the lack of rollercoasters. I'm planning on riding the world's steepest zipline and 80 MPH bobsled (reminiscent of Cool Runnings!) Cost: $150

5) MUSS - Since there isn't a professional sports team in SLC, joining the University of Utah's football student section (ranked top 10 by ESPN) is the best way to enjoy football while cheering for the home team. And I get to heckle BYU? Sign me up! Now to find a U student willing to let me use their ID... Cost: $30

Considering how fun it was researching these events, SLC definitely seems more hip. Hit me up if you're interested in joining in. I intend to complete all 5 this year so that my frown stays upside down. Now's who STRUGGLING? Not I. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The One About The Rabbit Hole...

Ladies and Gentleman, I am finally done traveling. At least for now... I've just returned from two weeks in Hawaii, American Samoa and Samoa. My favorite place??? SAMOA! I absolutely loved it. Although I've been to Samoa numerous times (visit every 2 -3 years), this trip allowed me to appreciate my family and the experience of being surrounded by my own people.

When I first got back from Samoa, the first (American) thing I did was watch the new Tim Burton remake of Alice of Wonderland (in 3D) starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (Amazing!). Having read both Alice in Wonderland and it's sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, in high school, I was genuinely excited to revisit this fantasy that inevitably fueled my zany personality range. (Having a personality range is definitely NOT the same as having multiple personalities... haha...) Anyways, Alice is in the middle of a crucial decision but bombarded with advice from everyone else when she falls down a rabbit hole into Wonderland -- currently ruled by the tyrannical Red Queen. The Wonderland is completely different from Alice's reality. Creative and eccentric compared to her family's white-collar society, Alice finds solace in the oddities (Mad tea parties/talking animals) and challenges of Wonderland that allow her to develop into... well, the Alice everyone expects her to be. Vibrant. Fearless. Compassionate.

What I loved most about Samoa was meeting and enjoying the diverse types of Samoans. I met and befriended a business owner, barista, marketing director, United Nations health official, and cameraman to name a few. Others were unemployed and/or earned a living cutting trees or shaping lawns. Sure, not everyone enjoyed an amazing career but I could never tell whether that fact was bothersome to them. Everyone was unbelievably happy and carefree regardless of their income, choosing to focus instead on family and other relationships. At the same time, many were entrepreneurial, planning new businesses and various ways of earning a living without it totally consuming their lives.

While I don't want to bore you all with more of my observations, I honestly left Samoa wanting to move there. Having readjusted into life here in Salt Lake City, I feel like my time in Samoa was surreal. Like I fell down the rabbit hole into my own personal Wonderland. And just like Alice couldn't remain in Wonderland, I can only apply my experiences with me in Utah. But here's to hoping that I actually live in Samoa someday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The One About Losing My Kava Virginity...

It's finally happened, folks. I've mixed for the first time. For my non-polynesian readers, Kava or Ava is a plant found in the Pacific. It's root (grounded and strained with water) is used historically for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Today, Kava is the premium beverage for various social gatherings of all ages. Of course, I have my own opinion regarding it's use by Mormon Islanders as a moral substitute and loophole for alcohol. Won't go into that... haha.

But back to my story, I agreed to meet up with friends I haven't seen in 10 years. What I didn't know was that they had arranged a kava ceremony celebrating me as the guest of honor. Honestly, I would rather they had thrown me a party/bbq/even money... Nonetheless, I have been proud to say that I've never tasted kava before. It's definitely been a line I've refused to cross throughout high school and these last two years in Utah. Until last night. But could you blame me? Despite my negative association of kava drinking equating it to adultery (haha... a bit dramatic, I know...), I couldn't believe I was faced with the dilemma of deciding between mixing or disrespecting this reunion party.

5 cups of later, my tongue was lethargic and my taste buds seemed swollen. But I've realized that I had a great time creating new memories with old friends. And while I don't plan on mixing again anytime soon (seriously, I wanted to throw up after every cup), I'll definitely be more conscientious when determining what is black and white. After all, something's are gray after all... Taki Taki??? haha...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The One About A Samoan Filmmaker

After spending the last two days at home recovering from a weekend in Vegas, I'm realizing the extent of my mortality. I slept a grand total of 11 hours. This mirrors another Vegas weekend five years ago. My sister, Dionne and I celebrated her 30th birthday partying with cousins in true Vegas (club-till-you-drop) fashion. Five years ago, I didn't need much sleep to function properly. This time around, I struggled to even stay awake yesterday and wasn't at all productive.

Last week, Dionne was on her way to an anthropology conference in DC but couldn't attend as both DC airports were closed due to inclement weather. Fortunately for me, I re-routed her to stay with me in SLC. Prob not ideal for her since she dislikes Utah (yes, the entire state...).
As I haven't seen Dionne in exactly a year, I was MUY (Selena anyone?) excited to catch up with her. I cooked dinner (pork ribs! redic good btw...), showed her some SLC eating spots and even watched lots of tv while talking about everything that's happened this past year. Last Thursday, Dionne was invited to speak at an Ethics class at the University of Utah highlighting a documentary she made in 2007. I was so beyond proud at how she easily navigated questions from the class into a forum discussing cinematic perception of Pacific Islanders through the lens of a Samoan filmmaker.

That next morning, I flew out to Vegas for the Rugby 7s tournament. I invited Dionne to join me but she declined opting instead to rest and work on personal entrepreneurial projects. While I had a great (read: AMAZING) time in Vegas, I realized just how much more mature Dionne is. Not to say she wasn't mature before. But she was willing to sacrifice some Vegas-fun to focus on more important long-term goals. Combined with her performance in the ethics class and our general conversations, I couldn't be more impressed with the amount of growth and development within one year. Not to mention being able to literally feel her excitement and passion for films-- her true niche in this world.

Next week, Dionne turns 35! (Sorry for putting you on blast! hahaha). She definitely embodies the type of passion and resilience that I hope to gain in my own life. Here's to you, sis! Preemptive Happy Birthday and to many more years of cheering you on from your corner.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The One About Turning 26


I've decided to join the millions of nerds (yes tiff, you're def a nerd...) expressing themselves through this blog media. Not sure if it's the best use of my time but I'm hoping to flex my flabby creative muscles this year. Plus, I secretly think I'm undeniably witty so this blog actually serves as a platform for my ego.

To properly introduce myself, listed important info below:

- Just turned 26.

- Single

- 2nd year in Salt Lake City

- Homeowner (now I'm bragging...)

- Samoan

After much deliberation, I've decided to dedicate my first blog post to my recent birthday. 26 just doesn't sit well with me. Growing up, I imagined my 26-year-old self being more distinguished - fit, fun social life, financially stable job (when not occasionally traveling and/or secretly saving the world from terrorists).

Not to say my life is void of any excitement. Instead, I'm looking for ways to merge these self-imposed expectations with my current life. T-lai 3GS upgrade, if you will (miss my iphone...) And I'm already plagued with a bunch of questions: How do I act more like a 26 year-old? And even more thought-provoking, how is this new behavior any different from my 2009 version. While I'd love to discuss possible answers, I don't think my badass 26 self would even be caught contemplating cliche graduation speech sounding hooplah about reaching untapped potential.

*whew* dodged a sappy solilquoy bullet back there... Real talk, there are obviously ways to make my life more fulfilling. But I'll find my way. This road less traveled has bent in the undergrowth. And it's making all the difference.

Here's to making 26 work. Of course, you'll definitely be in the loop.