Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The One About Hogwarts...

I spent this last weekend at my college’s homecoming for my five-year reunion. Whoa… Five years have flown by since I accepted my diploma at the School of Economics’ graduation. It wasn’t the perfect tv/movie moment I envisioned based on Saved the Bell College edition and Legally Blonde. My name sounded garbled in the department chair’s heavy eastern European accent. Think he even added extra vowels and a couple of syllables… And my poor parents traveled over 4,000 miles only to watch me pushed to center stage (by a faculty member no less…) because I stood in the wings unsure if I were being recognized… Considering that I pulled one all-nighter a week finishing econ papers and problem sets, I should have taken the mic away and announced myself correctly after which the crowd erupted into cheers... Haha! Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda…
Reunion was slightly overwhelming. I was bombarded by a number of people asking the same question – what are you up to now? I started repeating the same six words in an almost rhythmic pattern – Salt Lake City. Three Years. Finance. Depending on how close we were in college, I would elaborate a little more but I was more interested in what others were doing. I found out that my fraternity brother cofounded Instagram – a photo sharing app I recently downloaded to my iphone. Another friend was part of a non-profit organization looking to construct more efficient water-wells in Kenya. I even met up with another classmate who is the current spokesperson for Bare Essentials (I’d actually seen the commercial randomly…). A number of other friends were in graduation school or settling down in their career or family. I was so inspired by how my classmates chose to live their lives.
Walking around campus and looking at the Richardsonian Romanesque architecture blended with elements reminiscent of Colonial Mission Revival (I was a dedicated tour guide, sue me….), I could not help but enjoy flashbacks from my undergraduate years: biking furiously through the quad as the toll of the bells signaled my tardiness, serenading a couple with my college a capella group before a heartfelt wedding proposal and hiding in the bushes behind Memorial Church as a fraternity pledge while our actives looked for us in a game of Hide and Go Sleep (yeah, it’s not hazing…). People say college is the best four years of your life. It certainly was a magical time for me. For four years, I was part of a world where anything (seriously, anything!) was possible. It was Hogwarts. And I, along with 1700 students, felt like Harry Potter in a four book wondrous series of fortunate events. ‘OOOOO-SIX!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The One About Ralph Lauren...

Jet lag is real! I've been completely exhausted since returning from Thailand on Saturday. Oh yeah, I went to Thailand! Haha.
My cousin Ui and I settled on this trip two months ago. And our excitement grew exponentially since that time. Actually... There may have been a slight decline in excitement when our other cousin and third member of the Thailand trio bowed out of the trip the same morning we were supposed to fly out... Oh well, the show must go on! And it did. 20 hours of flight time later (including four layovers) Ui and I finally landed in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is about an hour's flight north of Bangkok and known for the manufacturing of Thai goods like silk, umbrellas, silver and tourist trinkets. We were slightly worried because Chiang Mai was hit by a monsoon the week before and local news reported heavy flooding. But it was as if Fate wanted us to explore Chiang Mai without an Ark because it didn't rain until we left for Bangkok. Ugh, Bangkok... I'm not ready to discuss Bangkok and how the city practically Hangover 2'd us... haha. If you do make it out to Thailand, I insist you visit Chiang Mai. The city, with it's laid-back atmosphere, was comprised of identical looking streets offering ever-changing surprises. On one street sat a whole chain of massage parlors (So cheap!). On the next street, an ornate Buddhist temple (Monks!). I tried to take it all in while riding in our first tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) but the various sights and smells (fried pork!) were a blur.

What to do in Chiang Mai? I definitely recommend a tour of Maetmann Camp - kicked off by an elephant show (they paint?! They kick soccer balls?!), Ox pulled cart rides through the rice fields, elephant trek to the local town and back to the camp, buffet lunch, scenic bamboo rafting trip down the near river and a tour of an orchid/butterfly farm. Costing a grand total of $33, this was definitely the most bang for our great American buck.

In comparison, Bangkok was congested and chaotic. After being impressed by our posh hotel lobby and breakfast, we felt completely duped when our room looked like a dumpy motel crime scene from a CSI episode. Our one bright spot was hitting up MBK (one of the largest malls in Bangkok) and being overwhelmed by the amounts of designer merchandise (7 floors of clothes, electronics and furniture!) - whether they were real or great knockoffs was another story... I dare you to NOT buy a leather Mulberry wallet for $15 or two Ralph Lauren polos for $18. Haha!

All in all, it was a great trip. I just wish I slept more. But sleeping is for the grave. And I intend to wear my new Ralph Lauren digs till the very end.

Samoa in December!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The One About The Windy City...

I remember when my freshman roommate opened our door exposing the black envelope on the floor. My name was written in cursive gold lettering above a blood red wax seal. Fancy… I quickly learned that it was a bid or invitation to pledge Sigma Nu, the only fraternity on campus with a recruitment event I reluctantly attended because of the Lu’au theme and that my roommate looked ridiculous wearing all of the “island stuff” in my room. Receiving this bid was interesting news... Mike and I had discussed living together another year until he received a bid from another fraternity. I knew he secretly wanted to join Theta Delta but offered to decline if I had no one else to live with. Truth was, I didn’t have anyone else… And because I wasn’t prepared to spend the next year with someone hating me for crushing their dreams, I called Sigma Nu and accepted their invitation. I would be moving into their house in the fall.

Last week, I spent four days in Chicago reuniting with older Sigma Nus I haven’t seen since they graduated – at least 6 years! I flew in Thursday evening – hung out at a bro’s incredulous 91st floor apartment at the John Hancock Center, worked out of my firm’s local office on Friday before meeting up with the bro’s at Mercadito - an upscale Mexican restaurant. Our initial conversations were really awkward…

“So… what have you been up to since college?”

I think I recited the same response 7 times hoping to sound as if my life were incredibly interesting and work was self-fulfilling… Like I do in job interviews… Or beauty pageants… haha!

The rest of the weekend was a blur – swanky bars, underground clubs, Chicago Cubs game, beer die tourney, Stanford win over AZ,
McFaddens… I realized that my years in Sigma Nu (including 2 in the house) produced amazing memories temporarily suppressed by the
constant onslaught of my current life… I honestly forgot how close we all were six years ago. And I vowed not to forget… As I passed out in the backseat of my cab Sunday morning heading to O’Hare after just getting back from McFaddens, I realized that my risky choice to not live
with my freshman roommate paid off. ‘Cause when you think about it, is he blogging about a kick ass reunion with the bro’s? Nope! I
checked. He watched Family Guy all weekend… Lame. Haha! JK Mike!

Rose to EN.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The One That's Untitled...

Been feeling overwhelmingly uninspired lately. Not sure if I've swan dived into a funk but I haven't wanted to write in some time now. I learned in my teenage years that the urge to not pray truly meant it was necessary. Blogging seems to follow this same rule. Hope below updates are satisfactory until my new muse is found...

5 Mins Ago
- Bought a car for $500 (Timing couldn't be better as just lost my annual bus pass...)
- Enjoyed the last week with my mom, sister and younger brother (+ kids) during my cousin's funeral services this past weekend
- Adele live in concert

Right Now
- GMAT studying
- Working overtime (Car insurance + Gas = Hella Expensive)
- Living alone (Optional clothing night makes a comeback! Haha!)

On Deck
- Looking for a roommate (No small feat... More crazies in SLC than people realize...)
- Career choices (Grad school vs New opportunities)
- Upcoming trips (Chicago in a week, Thailand in a month)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The One About the Circle of Life...

I don't think I'll ever forget this past Saturday night. Before turning in for bed, I called my Dad inquiring about his health. On Friday, my father was shopping at the Laie Foodland when he lost consciousness for a couple of minutes. Luckily, he was in the Bakery area and found a bench nearby to rest on. He was released Saturday afternoon from Kahuku hospital. During our conversation, I laughed so hard as my dad recounted the blackout and how a young female employee immediation rushed over only to become completely useless having succombed to shock over my dad's situation. Poor girl. haha.

The fact that he was humourous elicited closure on my end. My father is okay, I assured myself. And then I heard him blackout again.

In my quest to experience life to the fullest, I hadn't completely grasped an important aspect of mortality - that as I grow within the prime of my life, my father further fades from his. Sure, I've watched Lion King (Film and Broadway, mind you...) and understand the Circle of Life. But it had never felt as poignant as I scrambled to reach my dad, notify my family and figure out a way to get to Hawaii immediately.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The One About the Phone Curse...

I decided last night to get up at 6am this morning and run the 3 mile distance to work since I start at 730am. Spring has finally arrived and I was eager to see it firsthand while jogging the nearby bike/running trails that looped through the local marshlands. Think I even saw a fox... 20 minutes later, I reached in my front sweatshirt pocket to check the time on my phone. Except it wasn't there. Just my wallet. I immediately stopped running and swore out loud. Unsure of whether I should backtrack for fear of being late to work, I quickly turned around and sprinted back the way I came.

I have a history of bad luck with phones. Each phone has it's own unique twist - stolen at a gym, fallen into the crevice of a friends car, left on a plane - but the end result is the same. In 2010 alone, I lost three phones - two of them were iPhones! I finally settled on a cheap Nokia that lasted a year before giving up on me last month. Taking a leap of faith, I got the iPhone 3Gs and have yielded high returns of utility from Words With Friends among many other apps. However, the dreaded phone curse would not allow this happiness to last. I walked up and down North Temple this morning feeling less and less hopeful. Acceptance finally set in around 7am and I had to head to work.

Still sad about my phone, my friend Vake took me to Panda Buffet for lunch which did nothing to appease my dark mood. Our discussions over facebook gossip, SLC concerts and other nearby restaurants were especially disheartening because I couldn't utilize an app or search the internet. I went to sleep shortly afterwards dreaming of my Guitar Strum ringtone on repeat. Addicted much? Haha. I woke up 4 hours later and used my ipad2 to peruse the Internet. Turns out my Facebook was hacked! A pilot found my phone and updated my status asking me to contact him. Whoa!!! I picked up my phone 15 minutes later and couldn't believe my luck.

Call it Karma or the lifting of the Phone Curse if you will. But major props to Ryan Purvis for reminding me that there are honest and decent individuals in this world. Besides me of course... And I intend to pay it forward. Until then, looking up an app to help brainstorm a great thank you present. Haha.

Tangentially, heading to Hawaii from weds - sun. Hope to see some of you Hawaii friends. Take care!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The One About A Zag...

I spent part of this past weekend in Spokane, Washington attending a childhood friend's graduate commencement from Gonzaga University. I've known Jihye Jean since 1994 when we lived across from each other in BYU Hawaii's student family housing (TVA). As recent immigrants from Korea, Jihye's family was similar to mine as we had also only recently arrived from Samoa.

After pulling into Jihye's garage, I was immediately struck by the very familiar smells of kimchi, soy sauce and frying oil - reminiscent of lazy TVA afternoons sharing these ethnic dishes with the Jeans. Coordinating all of the cooking was Jihye's mom. Similar to a clucking mother hen, Mama Jean busily dictated our chores, culinary techniques and life advice. Not that I cared. She continually fed me manapuas, roti, vegetable jun, and oranges while pumping me for information on Jihye's love life and potential soulmate. You would have spilled too if you were bribed with sweet roll manapuas... haha. All in all, the weekend was jam-packed with non-stop comedy (Caryn and Karess were equally entertaining) while witnessing how far we've come individually.

Congrats G! You are one of the hardest working people I know. As I learned on Saturday, it's the Gon"ZAG"a way. Cue the bagpipes!

This could be your therapist...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The One About the Wheelchair...

I usually catch the 517 Jordan Meadows bus leaving downtown SLC at 8:10pm. By this time, I’m completely exhausted and desperately want to get home and in my bed. Within the last month, a wheelchair passenger has been boarding the 517 within the outskirts of downtown. Have you witnessed the multiple time-consuming steps required to loan a wheelchair passenger? It takes ten minutes but feels like an hour... Like those dream within a dream sequences from Inception... Can you tell I’m obsessively impatient? My mom reminds me of this development area every couple of months…

A long day of work coupled with gym time means an even shorter fuse. As I watch the driver slowly extend the ramp to the curb, I can feel my face slip into a disapproving glare. My mood fails to budge after seeing the passenger clumsily maneuver his wheelchair into the designated disability area. Three point turns are clearly not one of his strengths... I finally have to focus my attention elsewhere if the driver cannot properly secure the seat belt... Yeah, I'm probably going to hell.

Last Sunday, I walked into church and sat in my normal seat (near the back). As we transitioned to Sunday School after the service, I walked to the classroom door and politely held it open for my classmates. My self esteem was magnified by the smiles and gratitude expressed by others. As the crowd thinned, I barely recognized the dressed up man pass me on his wheelchair. He nodded at me and headed for a woman eagerly awaiting his arrival. I swear the sound of my ego collapsing sounded similar to a balloon letting out air. My wheelchair passenger was not only a member of my church but completely unaware of the angry thoughts and emotions I internally lashed out Carrie-style.

With today being Easter Sunday, I cannot help by wonder how many personal developments remain. But I'm optimistic. These improvements lie in hidden places anxiously awaiting discovery. Probably in the same manner that ornately decorated eggs would feel during a Easter hunt. Grabbing my basket and heading out now! But first, I have to learn how to thread a seat belt through a wheelchair...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The One About Puerto Rico...

It's been a couple days since my Puerto Rico trip and I finally had a free moment to reminisce. If you haven't been, I definitely recommend it. My Top 5 list below...

1. Ocean Park...
While majority of tourists stay in Condado (Waikiki of Puerto Rico) or Old San Juan, our group rented an apartment in Las Puntas Marias. About 10 minutes from Condado and Old San Juan, we were able to experience all of the local beaches and eateries without competing with spring breakers.
Our apartment was a two-minute walk to Ocean Park - beach next to a community park with baseball/track stadiums. I even got lined up at a nearby barber shop (fade/taper never looked so good!)

2. Naturally Sexy...
Having seen Dance With Me, Dirty Dancing Havana Nights (don't judge me...) and multiple seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, I was looking forward to getting my salsa on in a hole in the wall latin dance club known only to local 'ricans... Yeah, I found that place... but was quickly intimidated after seeing how amazing these kids could dance. Tall, tan, young and possible lovely, everyone danced with a staggering smolder. I watched these sexy-bots throw their hair, hips and other body parts I didn't realize moved that way... And no vulgar bumping and grinding here. Their intimate contact with unfazing eye contact almost made it seem voyeuristic (which I like... haha!)

3. It Rains in a Rain Forest...
On Day 3, we hiked El Yunque - Puerto Rico's largest rain forest. Before hitting the trails, we stopped at the rain forest visitor center to browse souvenirs. Every person at the rain forest insisted we buy a poncho. Because a friend and I are from Hawaii, we thought these ponchos were tourist traps similar to overly priced umbrellas, beach mats and conch shells sold to Asian tourists... An hour into the hike, I was completely drenched. What my tour guide said, "it's called a rain forest for a reason". Good think I love the rain!

4. Lomo Saltado...
Chubby Fonoimoana and I stumbled on El Civ, a Latin/Peruvian restaurant in Old San Juan. Hands down the best food I ate all trip - Lomo Saltado! Beef Steak sauteed with caramelized onions, mushrooms and fries. And rice! The 2 for $8 sangrias didn't hurt either... haha.

5. Sofia Montijo...
On my last night, a friend I knew from a previous job took us out to dinner. We were close as coworkers prior to her leaving the firm. After catching up over great Argentinian food, I realized that our lives have taken very different paths. And while I hope Fate allows for another intersection, it's interesting to see how friends (from any point of my life) have turned out.

I'm gonna start planning my next international trip soon. Thailand, Canada and Panama are all in the mix. Let me know if you have any suggestions. Probably somewhere cheap since I left PR with a considerably lighter wallet...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The One About The Phone...

I walked out of the stall and stood over the sink examining myself in the mirror. Not too shabby, I thought as I washed my hands. These fluorescent lights probably made me look worse for wear. Like how video cameras add ten pounds… (how many cameras were on you? --- Friends, anyone?) Unfortunately, these personal ramblings were interrupted by my cell phone’s piercing ring tone. I fished it out of my pocket, punched the answer button and attempted to cradle the phone between my raised left shoulder and ear.


That’s as far as I got before the phone slipped off my shoulder and bounced wildly on the floor tiles. I watched in silence as it (in almost slow motion action) slid under the nearest stall and stopped short of a pair of brown loafers below black bunched up pants…

I froze in horror – completely unsure of what to do next. During this moment of indecision, a (very pale) hand slowly picked up my cell phone and slid it back to where I stood. Realizing that I needed to leave immediately for fear of an awkward face to face encounter, I quickly grabbed a handful of napkins to contain my phone and hustled out the door.

Back at my desk, I borrowed a colleague’s sanitizer and disinfected my phone. I think I saw the Good Samaritan pass my desk after noticing the tan loafers and black pants from behind. I silently prayed that he be blessed with good luck for returning my phone without incident and/or embarrassment. I mean, it could have been much worse…

Puerto Rico in less than 24 hours!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The One About Tony...

My dad placed an index card on the coffee table, thanked me once again for a great weekend and left for the airport. I was working from home and quickly waved goodbye to my father before focusing on my laptop screen. Three hours later, I finally took a break and turned on the tv for some much needed distraction. It was completely accidental that I noticed the index card next to my orange juice. I turned the card over and read my father's writing.

Yesterday, I got off work around 6pm and decided to take my dad out to dinner. And not just any dinner --- a nice steak dinner! An hour later, we sat in Ruth's Chris Steakhouse laughing at my dad's recent hilarious experiences in New Zealand in between bites of the house ribeye, garlic mash, brussel sprouts and an apple crumb pie.

While driving home, I thought of my father's involvement during my childhood. He worked incredibly hard to support our family of seven. During the week, he left every morning at 5:00am and returned at 6:00pm exhausted from his physical labors. I don't recall too many social conversations with my dad. He sacrificed a normal father-son relationship in order to ensure our family's economic stability. I'm now learning how difficult this whole job thing is and am genuinely appreciative. I also look forward to furthering my relationship with my father. Someday, I hope I become just like him. Except with better handwriting... haha.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The One About the Junkie..

I am addicted to tv (please utilize confession for my intervention) - specifically tv shows based on any of the following themes:

- set in high school/college (dizzying interactions between popular and nerds preferable)
- steeped in vampire/paranormal folklore
- involves highly trained government operatives
- competitive reality based shows (highlighting overly dramatic models, chefs, fashion designers etc.)

This past three day weekend, I watched 19 hours of tv. Yes, I had one of those couch surfing weekends. It was glorious! Around hour 5, I savored tasty sesame chicken and beef broccoli from a local chinese restaurant. After a nap and break to attend church services, hour 11 allowed me the opportunity to test out Pizza Hut's new Big Dipper special (2 Thumbs Up!). But I was somewhat productive... I washed dishes and did 5 loads of laundry during commercial breaks... haha.

And until I win the lottery and voluntarily resign from the labor force, I'm excited to compete at work. One recent development in my life is the acceptance of my career (including it's demanding hourly obligations) as a lifestyle --- my lifestyle in fact. Of course I'm not a robot. I'll need these couch surfing weekends to reboot for the week. But I'm interested to see how this new perspective affects my professional experience. Stay tuned, folks... In the meantime, I've summarized other updates after the jump. Can't wait for PR!

What's In:
- Puerto Rico Vacation (March 18-22)
- Mourning end of Greek
- Usana shakes
- Gym (Planet Fitness)
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

What's Out:
- Las Vegas Weekend (Feb 11-13)
- Excitement over Glee
- Whey shakes
- P90x
- Mockingjay

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The One About Being Partially Right...

As my younger brother reached out and gently touched his wife’s baby bump, my other brother, sister and I sat across from each other eagerly awaiting the announcement of the baby’s gender. I knew that my younger brother wanted a daughter to complete his family now that he’d had his son. But to be completely honest, I wanted another boy. Not that it was up to me… haha.

As the Cheesecake Factory waitress brought over a third basket of wheat bread and butter (don't judge us...), my brother polled our guesses on his baby's gender. My sister guessed a female. I guessed a male. My brother knew already and didn't guess... And I was right! I was going to have another nephew! Except I wasn't entirely right... Turns out, my brother is having twin boys! And just like that, his family now grew to five. That will now make five Fonoti grandchildren including my two nieces. We're expanding! haha.

Of course, I'm over the moon about these latest events. And yet, I can't help but wonder what it would be like to have a twin. Imagine if I had one! We'd be unstoppable! hahaha. I'm so excited for this next generation. An entire world awaits them. I just need to start adding to this generation. The twins will need younger cousins to watch over... haha.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The One About Ray...

I knew it was only a matter of time... I mean, I knew it would eventually happen... Just thought it'd surface as an issue when I was 60 and could pass it off as a result of metal dementia...

Last night, I went out with some friends to Poplar Pub - a hipster bar known to attract an eclectic mix of people. Think of your high school cafeteria and add three bars, pool tables and a secluded patio. While shooting the breeze under the warmth of a heating lamp in this patio, I was totally taken aback when I heard a couple voices calling out for Ray.

Nothing weird, right? Except they're calling out to me. I'm Ray.

In 2008, I interviewed with a manager at an investment bank. She struggled with my first name and asked to use my middle name - Ray. I agreed immediately as I was more concerned with getting the job. At that time, I would have answered to any name if it meant being hired. Almost three years later, Ray has developed a number of great relationships with people in various parts of the world. Only problem is... None of my non-work friends know about Ray. I don't know how it was never brought it up... Alright, that's a lie. haha. I was worried about the perception of me selling out to the Man and the implication that I am embarrassed of my first name.

Back at the Poplar patio, I jumped out of my seat and rushed over to say hi to my coworkers. We chatted and after promising to see them later, I came back to some very confusing looks. I'll skip the incredibly awkward conversation. But it was interesting to find out that it's not really a big deal to find out your friend has a "professional name". If you think about it, I'm now in the same company as Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker and Hannah Montana... (thanks Phil Dumphy)

Yes, my friends were very cool about it. They were much more receptive than my family who used to call my work phone and laugh hysterically after I answered, Hi - this is Ray... But it's one more thing that my friends know about me. I wonder when they'll find out I have a blog... haha.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The One About 2010...

The Holidays passed by like a Tazmanian Devil-esque blur. I spent Christmas Eve hanging out with 3 different families before jet setting to St Louis for an amazing dinner and great seats to a 49er smack down by the Rams. Next year, Frisco!

New Years was even more of a haze. I munched on Bongos while watching re-runs of my favorite tv shows before being persuaded to hit up a downtown spot. We only just arrived at the entrance of Club Hotel when bright fireworks lit up the snowy sky indicating the arrival of 2011. Fast-forward a couple hours and I'm peeling a sick girl off of my bathroom floor and cursing her intoxicated male friend for accidentally breaking the handle of my screen door. Great times...

One day later, I'm headed to Miami for the Orange bowl and spend invaluable time getting to know my cousin, Kassie and her family. I'm most inspired by this couple's incredible drive. Kassie recently launched her own photography business and is intent on forging a self-sustaining career. Her husband is doing the same in sports.

I started 2010 (and this blog) with the idea of better understanding myself. What I have come to learn is that I spent a significant amount of time waiting for something great to happen to me. For something (or someone) to somehow reposition me in this new fabulous life that I was meant to live - perhaps an even better career opportunity or an unbelievably attractive family of my own. I recently learned two crucial lessons in 2010: 1) I must earn a trip to Oz 2) The yellow brick road is a difficult undertaking. Somehow, I've been unfairly blessed/lucky with fortunate incidents thus far. It's time I roll up my sleeves and really begin toiling.

And as my (27th) birthday begins, I just want to thank my parents for their infinite love. Kassie's husband asked me what I would buy if I won Florida's $34 million lottery jackpot. My first thought was to spoil my parents with outlandish gifts. Unfortunately, even that wouldn't compare to what they've given me and my siblings. Alofa atu Mom and Dad.