IMR: 1997: December: 19 -- Friday, 11:10 p.m.
Our Apartment, Waikiki, Hawai`i

[ Capt. Willbeard ]William's snoring behind me. The man hasn't slept since a 6 a.m. nap on Wednesday. If you want to know what 18 credits looks like on Finals Week, look no further than this man's fuzzy mug.

He vows he'll shave tomorrow, but Jen and I are urging that he see this experiment in grooming to its logical end: a full, professorial beard.

He's staying with us over the weekend to get his grades on Monday, after which he's leaving for Hilo... only to return for the Unnamed Big Shindig on Dec. 26. Sadly, this will probably be the last time he'll be able to stay at The Ozawa Seaside during UH's unavoidable dorm transitions... unless he has babysitting background.

We just got home after picking Jen up from work. I'm the only one awake in the apartment. Jen's tossing and turning in the bedroom, wishing perhaps that I was lying beside her. But it's been too crazy a day to sleep just yet.

Not that typing is so great an idea -- before turning in, Jen accidentally squooshed my fingers in a door hinge. It feels like my fingernails want to fall off.

But it's been too crazy a day.

This morning, I woke up at 6 a.m. and headed to campus to study before my 7:30 a.m. Hawaiian final. A few other students were there, and we shared what insider info we had. Maybe it was just the WIC-sponsored Cheerios I had for breakfast talking, but I was feeling pretty good about the test.

Then my phone rang.

It was one Sgt. Horzwell with the Honolulu Police Department. The name rang a bell all too painful to have been truly forgotten. My blood turned cold, and suddenly I couldn't remember my name.

He had called my attorney. He had called Jen, from whom he got the number to reach me. He wanted us to come in on Monday for another interview.

"Okay," I said, feeling like the cartoon character who is suddenly asked to hold two ends of a thick electric cable.

It had literally been months since I'd heard a peep out of anyone about the accident. I've always known more hurdles were coming, but I didn't expect it today. And I wouldn't have expected it on any day, let alone before my last final a week before Christmas.

As soon as I hung up, I ran outside and called Jen. She was out of her mind scared. I tried to calm her -- pacing while I watched my teacher trot into the class -- asking her to call my parents and my lawyer to get some information and support.

"I knew this was going to happen," she said. "There are still a few days left in the year."

I was thinking the same thing. No one would ever deny that 1997 has been the most tumultuous -- if not worst -- year that has ever been. Was fate looking to get in a few last licks?

I went back in to take the test. I had to shake myself mentally several times to even focus on the sheets of paper before me. For a moment, I considered just walking out. I figured the universe was trying to tell me, "you should not have gotten out of bed this morning."

Which was in part true, in that at least I'd have answered the officer's call. Again, the biggest thing on my mind was how it was affecting Jen... or at least I distracted myself from my own feelings by thinking that.

I'm glad I didn't leave the class. Once I got cracking, everything flowed. In fact, I was the first to finish the story translation, and the second overall to finish the final. Possibly, maybe an A.

Once I walked out of Sakamaki into a cold Manoa drizzle, though, everything came back at me like a brick.

I called Jen again, and thankfully she was a little calmer. She'd talked to my lawyer and he'd given her an honest, if not encouraging, overview of where things could be going. She'd also reached my dad, but he was busy and had very little to say.

By the time I got to work, I couldn't think of anything else but holding Jen and telling her (and myself) that everything was going to be okay. I couldn't think about the AIB Newsletter, and I certainly couldn't think about what I was going to do for the Christmas party at UH Press at noon.

So, I left a rambly note for Laurel promising lots of overtime and weekend work and raced home. I decided we needed to get out, to do something, anything. Jen had been unable to get back to sleep, instead fretting herself to death.

We went to Ala Moana. At least I could try and pick up my $5-10 grab bag contribution.

By the time we found a parking space -- and it took a while -- we had calmed down. Worried still, but... now that reality had fully caught up with us again, we quietly slipped into coping mode. It had been a while, but we were definitely veterans at "post critical incident" life.

Instead of worrying about having to remember details about an event that happened over 10 months, one breakup, one reconciliation and one pregancy ago, we instead started to worry about Jen's health.

She'd already been sick for a couple of days, and had an endlessly upset stomach. Having read that similar symptoms sometimes preceded labor, she was scared of a premature birth.

Now she was feeling a little out of sorts, a little woozy.

After searching assorted stores for just the right cheap, pre-wrapped gift -- a box of chocolates at Liberty House -- we tried to decide where we could get a bite to eat. Nothing I suggested really sounded good to Jen's beleaguered intestines, but we settled on some cold somen at Shirokiya.

Bad call.

After walking past shelves and tubs and plates of fish, seaweed and assorted other delicacies, I spotted a tray of gyoza. "Jen always craves gyoza," I thought, picking it up as the smiling staff behind the counter looked on.

"Look," I said, proferring it to my beautiful wife.

And she convulsed and slapped her hand over her mouth and raced off to the bathroom.

I didn't even turn back to see how the chefs had taken it.

Nothing had actually come up, and after a few sips of water, Jen insisted she wanted gyoza after all. Wisely, I think, I instead led her out the door. Perhaps something at the Food Court would do.

Soba from the Japanese corner was what she finally decided on, while I grabbed a plate at Panda Kitchen. She took a few small slurps while I decided -- looking over the most digusting pile of noodles I'd ever seen (allegedly "chow mein") -- that I would never buy food from Panda again.

The next thing I knew, Jen had bolted off to the bathroom again.

This time, something did come up. In fact, Jen would later tell me she probably scared everyone else in the restroom what with the colorful noises she was making. The good news, though, was that she felt like a new woman when she came out.

Indeed, as we packed up and headed off to drop her off at work, she felt and looked much better. Instead of premature labor, we were probably looking at the lingering effects of a bad batch of ground beef at Taco Bell.

Chocolates in hand, I headed up to the press and joined the festivities in the Production Building, where I'd never been before. Not that it looked like an office, having been cleared and stuffed with chairs for the party.

I realized two things. First, I was one of only two male student helpers employed by the press. Secondly, Jen probably would not approve of my celebrating the season with the women that composed the rest of the student staff.

I picked an empty table and watched everyone eat. I couldn't believe I stupidly spent $7 on a non-edible lunch not half an hour before.

I couldn't believe the morning I had.

Despite the fact that it was for a non-profit publisher made up of PhD-holding academics and sometimes tempramental designers, the party was fun. It was a treat in that I rarely see more than three or four coworkers at a time... and even more rarely do I see them smile.

I stuck to the salad and the sushi and cans of guava juice, then bid on a few knicknacks at the silent auction in the back room.

At this auction, all the items are donated for free, and any money collected goes straight to the Community Clearinghouse and related charities. A pretty awesome idea. Even people who didn't want the junk bid on some stuff just to make the monetary contribution.

Then came the grab bag.

After everything I went through to get those damn chocolates, it was quite a disappointment to see the eventual recipient desperately trying to trade it for anything else. Meanwhile, I got a fat pack of crack seed, and traded it away for a big can of roasted peanuts.

Before I left, I was informed that JoAnn, my boss, had finally been appointed to the position she'd unofficially held since last year. Of course the news would come down when she was out for three weeks for medical reasons.

I have yet to figure out what her promotion means for me, but a coworker advised that I make it clear that I want to go wherever JoAnn goes.

After work, I went over to William's dorm room to help him pack. We hung out with Grant, his roommate, and -- as has become tradition -- I grilled him on embarassing, overly personal aspects of his life.

He's been with his current girlfriend for 10 months, and they've been considering cohabitation. As a cohabitator emeritus, I gave him as much guidance as I could.

I said that while I would not do a thing differently given the chance -- and that's including the typhoon that has been the last 12 months -- Grant should most definitely enjoy the freedoms and (occasionally frustrating) peculiarities of student life.

I sure I know I'm going to miss it.

When we went to pick up Jen at Tower, dad and Gayle were also there to meet Eathan, my stepbrother, who's car had stranded him at Kahala Mall less than a day after he returned from his first semester at the University of Washington.

Gayle and I talked about the latest developments, while dad put Jen through her paces trying to find a Willie K and Amy Gilliam duet he'd heard on the radio. Gayle then mentioned that she was interested in perhaps giving her new program (under the state Dept. of Education) a web presence.


Of course I have little chance at landing the job, even if it was created. But it was nice of her to say she thinks of me any time a coworker mentions the internet.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 19 December 1997 · Last Modified: 21 December 1997