IMR: 2000: October: 03 — Tuesday, 10:19 p.m. PST
Osborne/Pang Residence, Bertha Boulevard SW, Portland, Oregon

   Date: Tuesday, 3 October 2000 22:19:06 PST
   From: Ryan Kawailani Ozawa (
Subject: Still Alive

Katie's too excited about seeing airplanes to realize dad's going away.
Mom and Jen are also on hand to make sure I don't chicken out at the last moment.
The city of Portland, Ore., as seen from a Hawaiian Airlines jet.
My dear hosts for two days, Nate and Jaimee (and their two 'kids').
Greetings from presently dark and chilly Portland. The weather is uncharacteristically clear, I'm told, and the temperature is hovering just under 50 degrees. I am writing from a small but comfy futon in the corner of Nate and Jaimee's living room, as one of two resident cats sleeps on what should be my blanket.

It's midnight here, but of course my head is convinced it's 9 p.m. I will, however, force myself to sleep, as they will be getting up before 8 a.m. Portland time, which is -- well, too dang early for someone just in from Hawaii.

The flight was uneventful, but of course I did still get just shy of freaking out on take-off and landing. For all our newfangled technology, you'd think planes could do what they need to do without thumps and rocking and fans cutting in and out. I kept wondering, "What is the most common sound passengers hear before a plane drops out of the sky?"

Here's the neat bit. Boarding the plane at the gate, I had to pause as the man in front of me stubbed his toe on someone's car seat. He noticed it was bleeding, and asked for first aid, and I asked if he was okay. I eventually slipped ahead, got to my seat.... and discovered that he was my seat mate.

So having his toe, as it were, break the ice, I started a little chit chat with my new (as Fight Clubbers say) "single-serving friend." He was from Kaimuki, but living in Corvalis. "Oh," I say, "I have family in Corvalis."

Get this.

He's good friends with my uncle Ted and aunty Sets. His daughter, Lehua, is one of my cousin Debra's closest friends. He, in fact, lives maybe two streets down from uncle Ted. And, not surprisingly, although he didn't know my dad, he knew of dad. "He's in politics, right?" "Well, at one time."

His name was Shutan Wu, or "uncle Shutan." I could tell immediately he was an interesting fellow, who mentioned background in everything from electrical engineering to shipbuilding to photography. (He even knew one of our stewardesses from a photo shoot years ago for United, and she remembered him.)

He also educated me a bit about local entertainers, and the Hawaiian entertainment circuit in the Pacific Northwest. Apparently he runs in the same circles as Genoa Keawe and several other up-and-comers (seems there's a comedian in Seattle named Kermet whose whole schtick is how weird Hawaii is). He knew at least half of the actors who came up on Hawaiian Airlines' in-flight Hawaii propaganda and always had an anecdote to share.

I told him it was one of my first 'pleasure' trips (i.e. not work or family), and definitely my first to the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I babbled a lot, about how I'm a cowardly local boy who only recently started thinking of the world outside Hawaii, and that the PNW was one of the few places I'd consider living.

Well, of course, he launched into a series of pitches, as if he was trying to recruit me to move.

His "thing," as it turns out, was helping PSU students adjust to the Mainland. So, he said, he knew I was a textbook case. Off and on for the five hour flight (except during "Shanghai Noon" which he watched while I fought with PageMaker), he told me about how much easier life is, how it's not a struggle "to get by," how happy he knows Ted and Sets are... It was a trip. (No pun intended.)

Getting off the plane, he told Nate and Jaimee (who graciously waited at the gate to welcome me), "Treat him right, now!"

We had transportation thanks to their friend Tammy, who is married to a guy named Mike, who I knew as "Wintermute" maybe ten years ago on the Honolulu BBS scene. The two of them have twins, and so they have a van, so my luggage full of chocolate and other convntion junk wasn't a problem.

I got the dime tour of Portland, including a swift trip through downtown. I saw their rail system, which apparently I am expected to ride sometime tomorrow. Then we got to Nate and Jaimee's place, and after a short walk to Fred Meyer's (kind of a cross between Daiei and Star Market) for some frozen pizzas, we retired on the couch and just talked.

And talked and talked and played with the cats and talked.

They whipped out a map and showed me the lay of the land, sadly failing to convey to me just how big Portland, or the Mainland for that matter is. I kept going, "So is that like going from Waikiki to Pearl City, or more like Kapolei?"

We also whipped out photo albums. From me, of Katie, Jen and family, of course. From them, of friends, former workplaces and one photo of Nate and I from Washinton Intermediate School that made me fall off the couch.

We ate shoyu peanuts and talked some more until they turned in, it being midnight at that point and they being working/schooling people and all. And now I'm turning in too.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 11 October 2000 · Last Modified: 11 October 2000