IMR: 2001: January: 11 — Thursday, 4:38 p.m. HST
Pioneer Plaza, Downtown Honolulu, Hawai`i

I gotta go back, back, back to school again.

Two courses this season, both 200-level humanities, one regular course during the day, and one accelerated evening outreach course (which wraps up with no final at the end of February).

"American Studies 202: Diversity in American Life" is my day class, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to noon. On Monday and Wednesday nights, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., is "Indo-Pacific Languages 273D: Polynesia" (I'm not sure what the "D" stands for). The former is taught by one Alison Hartle, presently a grad student, and the latter by Noe Losch, a long-time language instructor.

Textbooks for the two classes came out to about $50. Not bad for six titles — I had more complaints about the crowd management at the UH Bookstore.

For American Studies, we're racing through five novels in its abbreviated two-month term: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Rolling the R's, R. Zamora Linmark, Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Why She Left Us by Rahno Reiko Rizzuto.

For Indo-Pacific Languages, our only book is an obscure text titled, The Polynesian Family System in Ka`u, Hawaii, by E.S. Craighill Handy.

I'd forgotten what lower-division, essentially introductory courses are like. (Although IP273D has a prerequisite of one year of a Polynesian language... technically making it a valuable "non-introductory" course toward my degree.) American Studies is basically "read and respond" weekly, with two or three analysis papers. Indo-Pacific Languages is a broad survey of various Polynesian cultures, with a map quiz, midterm and final, plus two research projects.

Our first? Picking one and giving a five-minute oral presentation. (I went with Niue, known to geeks as the home of .nu domains.) The sort of thing I had to do in grade school, and back then I didn't have the web or the CIA World FactBook.

I don't want to sound overly confident, but... I think I'll probably pass both.

Both classes are surprisingly small, though — maybe ten students in each. Absences — let alone laptop notetaking — are thus quite conspicuous. I've so far stuck to index cards and a pen.

I always feel weird being back on campus, whether after the summer or the shorter winter break. It doesn't take too many regular workdays downtown to forget I'm technically still a student, and it's easy to pretend that it's all behind me.

The other thing is, since I only take one or two courses at a time, and usually make a beeline straight for the class (then straight back to the bus) anyway, I don't see much of the university at all. Things change — big things — and I don't even notice.

For example, Monday night, walking to Moore Hall from my parking spot near the UH president's house, was the first time I saw Hamilton Library Phase III.

Now, I heard all about Hamilton Library Phase III even before starting at UH in 1992, in part because Nate's dad worked at the library school in the basement of the "actual library." Phase III was part of the original design of Hamilton Library, and was badly needed as far back as the early 80s... but had never been built.

Like the Hawaiian Studies Center, it was one of those fantasy facilities that — given the state government's overall treatment of UH — few had any real hopes of seeing built.

Well, the Hawaiian Studies Center was eventually built. Delayed dozens of times and the subject of constant controversy, it still opened five or six years ago. From unrealistic dream to hard-won concrete reality, all during the time I was a student.

And I'm still a student, dammit, and now Hamilton Library Phase III actually exists. A massive, six-story Borg-cube of shiny new shelves ready for books sometime this month. Surely construction must have taken a long time, but to me, it all but materialized instantly on a hilly patch of grass along Maile Way.

I really hope I graduate before they build that School of Commercial Space Travel...

Last night, I ventured into the "old" Hamilton Library (which will be closed completely later this year, as everything is shuffled around and renovated) to look up a few books on writing. Fortunately, that part of the library seemed pretty much the same, right down to the scary elevators.

One subtle but substantial change, though, was that the entire collection catalog was now completely web-based. I sat down at a computer expecting the same-old slow terminals with the mud brown (or moss green) screens, and instead found rows of color monitors showing off a snazzy web menu.

When I went to the Circulation Desk to ask about it, I found Cora Iezza, former Ka Leo colleague and all-around media maven, sitting there. We hugged and caught up and traded parenting notes.

And when I went upstairs to peruse the stacks, who should I catch slipping down a narrow aisle but Neal "The Pueo" Oribio, library manager, alt.culture.hawaii veteran and pidgin storyteller extraordinaire. We too caught up a bit, and it was quite clear he was just itching to get his hands on the shelves on the new library addition.

I walked especially slowly on my way back out of Hamilton, hoping to bump into Panther — the quintessential campus character — but it was not to be. Not that evening, anyway.

Having class on Monday and Wednesday nights is great, work-schedule wise, but it's a bit of a bummer as far as family goes.

I get home after Katie is in bed, and of course I leave in the morning before both her and Jen wake up. So, for example, I don't really see her (except asleep) between Sunday night and Tuesday night.

At least with Jen home all day again, I don't have to worry about Katie being lonely...

The day doesn't really seem quite complete without the once daily run-up-cheering-with-a-hug greeting I'd get walking in the door. Though, man, with the increased intensity with which she greets me after I'd been essentially invisible for so long almost makes up for it. She runs up to me so fast, she'd bounce back two feet if she didn't hug me so hard.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 11 January 2001 · Last Modified: 14 February 2001