IMR: 2000: April: 13 — Thursday, 12:20 p.m.
Room 201, Center for Hawaiian Studies, Univ. of Hawai`i-Manoa, Hawai`i

Ah, school. I remember this.

After three weeks away (I'd almost caught the bus to campus last week before one of our interns reminded me it was Spring Break), it feels weird to be sitting in a little desk again.

Hmm. The last class meeting I remember was a second presentation by Pi`ilani Smith, president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawai`i (ASUH) and general Hawaiian activist. She had come once before alongside C. Mamo Kim, who was her predecessor (while I was editor of Ka Leo) and is now — not surprisingly — president of the Graduate Student Organization.

It sticks out in my memory because right about that time, the Star-Bulletin ran a front-page feature on the two, framing it as youth activism spanning generations, Kim passing the torch to Smith.

And I remember thinking, as Smith talked down to us and asked endless rhetorical questions, "You're a passionate speaker, Pi`ilani Smith, but you're no Mamo Kim."

It's like the difference between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Both fought for the same cause, but one easily alienated as many people as he inspired. It's one thing to be motivated by anger, frustration, a passion for justice, and another by simple hate.

Smith was supposedly there to encourage us to get involved, but she damn near got into a slap fight with one of my classmates who dared suggest some of her criticisms of fellow ASUH senators — "this Asian senator, a Japanese girl" — may be overly race-derived.

Never a dull moment. Exactly what I expected in this class.

(Today it's a video, though. Not quite as compelling.)

One thing I didn't expect? An A-plus on my mid-term.

And not just an A-plus, but an A-plus with lots of exclamation points, enthusiastic check-marks and underlines, and the following comment: "I hope you are considering graduate school. Your excellent abilities warrant it!"


I'm probably just as scared and confused as I am proud. Was I really that good at telling her what she wanted to hear? Or am I starting to take to heart some of the things she's been teaching?

On Tuesday I finally hooked up with the infamous, otherworldly-wise Albert 'The Panther' Vanderburg for an early lunch.

I'd owed him the lunch for some time, actually, but as frequently as we'd cross paths at the bus stop in front of Puck's Alley, I was usually already done with my lunch, or he was usually boarding the bus to campus with a grocery bag with his own.

But I promised to introduce him to my friend Margaret and the joys of Coco Ichibanya franchise curry, and I did. And as luck would have it, I got to break bread (or rice, rather) with him on the eve of his birthday, his "last day of fifty-something."

As usual, we talked of everything and nothing. The web, favorite journalers, Lester "Emperor of China" Chow, Hawaiian music... Otherwise, I tried to convince him of the brilliance of his writing, and he berated me for the lack of mine.

He's always a joy to be around, a unique presence. I wanted to talk all day, but of all things, he pushed me onto the bus to get me to class on time.

Of course, provided I can improve my timing, we'll certainly chat over another two bowls of curry soon.

[ Katie and the Easter Bunny ]This past weekend, looking to escape grandma and her deafening Dick Van Dyke film festival, mom, Jen and I took Katie for some random window shopping at Pearlridge Shopping Center.

For the first time, we borrowed one of the mall's little yellow taxi strollers. Not the easiest things to navigate, I suppose, but irresistably cute. Katie could indulge her obsession with cars and steering wheels to her heart's content.

We hit all the toy stores, of course, Jen — having just last week won our two-year-old battle over allowing a Barbie in the house — looking for some new bright pink accessories. But Katie's favorite spots turned out to be the strange little rock gardens and fountains scattered around the mall.

The only things she liked better were the flashing and shrieking Neoprint sticker machines at Shirokiya, and pulling her away from the sight of herself on those flower- and heart-bedecked screens was no easy task.

Eventually, we had to walk past the Easter Bunny display, and I really tried to steer clear. Memories of the Santa debacle last year still burned fresh in my mind.

But as soon as Katie spotted the big, furry white rabbit, she called out, "Bunny! Hi, Bunny! Hi, Bunny!"

And as it turns out, it was all we could do to keep her from jumping on the Easter Bunny before it was her turn. I couldn't believe it.

The excitement, the thrill, the happiness in her face was priceless. She hugged his leg, shook his hand, patted his fur. And, of course, when it was time to go, "Bye bunny!"

Very curious. The only explanation I can think of is that the Easter Bunny wasn't threatening because Katie is regularly exposed to bunny-like images and figures, from her little stuffed rabbit to Bugs. Santa, on the other hand, never really registered on her radar until she was practically dropped into the clutches of one.

Which means this Easter success hasn't improved my hopes for Christmas.

"Hi, Bunny!" I love it. As Nate would say, hodacuuuute! She says "Hi" to everyone, to everything, even, from cars to toys to "peepee" and "poopoo."

The first time she said "Bless you!" after I sneezed, I practically fainted with pride.

Her brain is definitely in language acquisition overdrive, which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. (Note to future parents: Watch out for "truck" and "shirt.") She tries to repeats words she hears, and you can tell she's really trying to make it stick.

Oddly enough, some words just refuse to come out right. They seem stuck in her head that way, her own personal, quirky dictionary. We get "nyoot" for milk, for example, or "temens" for crayons.

And at times it seems as if her favorite words are still "McDonald's," "soda" and —of course —an especially attitude-tinged "no!"

But she also knows names, shapes, colors, and now even asks — and answers — "How are you?" ("good!") and "How was your day?" ("Fine!") I know "I love you!" is just around the corner.

I also just realized this week that soon, Jen and I will start having to consistently call each other "dad" and "mom." Because on more than one occassion, Katie has called me "honey," and once, "Ryan" — visions of Bart Simpson flashed through my mind.

In other Katie news, we've finally pushed past one of the Big Three milestones: we finally weaned her last week.

Basically, we'd finally heard one too many incredulous exclamations of, "You're still breastfeeding?" That and the joke about her demanding a boob before heading off to the prom wasn't funny any more.

It was our third, maybe fourth attempt, the only difference being this time I simply didn't let Jen cave.

Not that she's a wimp. Not at all. Katie's got a will of steel, stubborn as... as... well, her dad. So her ability to shriek all night, coupled with the fundamental mother's urge to feed a hungry baby, and keeping your shirt on suddenly becomes one of the toughest things you've ever done.

I felt like a boot camp seargent, or some dungeon master. Ignore the cries! Tune it out! Close your eyes and just lie still!

But it worked. Night one, she fussed for 90 minutes before falling asleep, waking up at 2 a.m. to cry for another 40 minutes. Night two, fidgeted for only 20 minutes or so, waking up at 4 a.m. to whimper for only five minutes.

By the third night, after it was made clear to her there were no more stories or songs, she just rolled on her side, covered her eyes with her arm, and passed out almost instantly.

Even I was shocked. When we snuck back out into the living room at 8:30 p.m. (instead of the usual 9:30 or 10 back when she was nursing), Jen and I just looked at each other and wondered what we'd do with the extra hour and a half we'd normally spend waiting for her to pop off and roll away.

Jen, of course, is now kicking herself. Months and months of suffering we could have easily avoided. "If that's all it took, why didn't we do this 18 months ago? Augh!"

Next up? Well, potty training is ongoing, but not a pressing concern. So, we're focusing instead on initiating the second and hopfully final round of the infamous Battle of the Bed.

I think we're starting tonight. Wish us luck.

Thursday, 9:18 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Katie's asleep in her room. On the floor, not on her bed, but it's a start.

Jen's fidgeting on the couch, trying to watch some Sandra Bullock movie, both a sure sign that something's not quite right.

Fortunately, she's just nervous, and understandably so. Her mother and aunt are flying from the East Coast to Hawai`i to visit and vacation for a week, landing Saturday afternoon.

I'm taking my first ever vacation days next week — Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday — to play tourist with them. On Monday we're going to take a big family cruise on my brother's catamaran. On Wednesday, we just might take a day trip to the Big Island.

I should be the one who's nervous, actually. This is my mother-in-law (and aunt-in-law), after all.

But Jen makes a good point. We see my mom, her mother-in-law, twice a week. We only see her mother once in a blue moon.

So she's tense. She ran out of fingernails to bite last week. I suspect she might be biting Katie's now.

I think she needs a massage.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 12 April 2000 · Last Modified: 15 April 2000