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.