IMR: 1997: December: 25 -- Thursday, 9:57 p.m.
Our Apartment, Waikiki, Hawai`i
[ Jen ]So this is Christmas.

Jen and I had dinner at my dad's. We partook of the multicultural spread his "open house" parties are known for. Turkey, sashimi, ham with cranberries, potato salad, two kinds of namasu, stuffing, shrimp tempura, rice, Chinese fried noodles...

Surprisingly, Todd came, happy to hang out with Eathan and his friend from Punahou, Nikki. Grandma Ozawa and Gayle's mother were there, as were Paul (Gayle's brother) and his kids, Chad and Romy. Oh, and Romy's son, Taylor.

(I'm asking Jen for all these names... she keeps better track of my family than I do.)

We stayed late, watching the final episode of some Japanese series about a company chairman with stomach cancer.

A pleasant evening. I'm glad Jen's starting to feel comfortable around my dad. We actually hung around a good hour longer than I would have, because she wanted to spend a little more time with the family. I'm sure she misses her parents, but I guess my `ohana is a fair surrogate.

Of course we came home with a big bag of presents. I got a Gap (!) shirt and jeans, Jen a nice maroon blouse. The both of us also got lots of cards and a lot of cash, which was quickly stashed away for "baby things."

She and I are both suffering from serious guilt, as we barely give out any gifts this year. This despite the fact that this Christmas, we've discovered we have a lot more friends than we thought we did.

Greg, who joined us today for lunch, gave us CDs and a receiving blanket for Katherine. He also updated somewhat his evaluation of my job prospects in Austin.

Jaimee, holed up in Oregon with Nate, sent shirts. I got a South Park tee, and Jen got a purple shirt with a wolf family on the front. Although the wolves will have to wait 'til after the baby's born, Jen will clearly make good use of the South Park shirt.

She wore it to dad's Christmas party.

Last night, Christmas Eve, we joined my mother's family at the Ishii's in `Aiea for dinner.

The Ishii's are in no way related, but Lynn, the mother, is a very close friend of my aunt Marge. Or something. I've never figured it all out myself.

Anyway, that side of my family is far more colorful, no question. A lot more talkative at gatherings, at least. My cousin, Deborah (aka "Noelani," her preferred name that the entire family refuses to use) is always a marvel of smugness and flat humor. Then there's the Ishii grandparents, devout Buddhists of some flavor who took Jen and I aside for half an hour to give us "eternal light."

I don't know the exact Japanese term. It's a form of spiritual healing that a cynic like me would immediately discount, were it not for the fact that my mother credited it with her swift recovery after she had a heart attack over a decade ago.

With Trevor -- the 10-month old son of my cousin Jennifer -- in the house, everyone was cooing and making funny faces. And Cristy, the Ishii's 10-year-old daughter, was also in a rambunctious mood. She's very sharp, playful, and already wise enough to be modest... sort of.

Jen told Cristy she wanted Katherine to grow up to be as cute and smart as her, and she simply said, "I'm cute, but I'm not that smart."

Between the two sides, Jen is definitely more at ease with my mother's kin. Cousin Jennifer has been especially generous to her, calling to see what's up and giving advice. She's passed along a lot of the baby stuff we otherwise couldn't afford -- a crib, baby carrier and car seat.

When the holidays wind down, Jennifer and Jen (it was already clear at the party that we had to differentiate them somehow) are probably going to hang out more often. Jen has an open invitation to join Jennifer at church, and we both think it'll be a good idea for her to go.

I've never been religious, but I never begrudge anyone their beliefs, either. Especially with the scary moments Jen and I have faced this year, I don't rule anything out.

Two nights ago, before we had to go in to not talk to the police (I'll get to that), I prayed with her. It helped to settle my mind, at least, though I'm not sure if there's a god that would turn to help someone with so extensive a history of skepticism and blasphemy.

Earlier this week, we finally pinned down a time that my lawyer and the police were available: 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve.

Dad drove Jen and I to my attorney's office, and we talked a bit. Then we drove down to where the accident happened to see if there was anything we could remember. It wasn't the most pleasant of moments.

My lawyer, a Yale graduate who Jen compared to an Irish setter, walked up and down the street, then spent a good half hour in a nearby apartment complex talking to people. It was encouraging in a way to see he was willing to put in some legwork on our case.

When we got to the police station, he went in beforehand to talk to the investigator. And he decided on the spot that there was no real reason for either Jen or I to say anything else, figuring (as I did) that our statements at the time were probably more accurate than our memory 10 months later.

So, I went in only to sign a paper saying that I wasn't going to say anything, and Jen and I escaped the grilling we were so terrified of all week.

Lawyer says it'll probably be another five to nine months before anything else happens, and that for cases to stretch two years isn't uncommon. He figures the police only thought to call because perhaps they were contacted regarding the civil suit.

It's disappointing that this will follow me into the new year, but I hope he's right that it may very well be summer before the next step is taken. I also am growing more and more calm and accepting that this is something I'm simply going to have to face, no matter what happens. That Jen and my family are there for me helps a lot.

The Yet Unnamed Shindig is on for tomorrow.

Donica probably won't make it, her sister arriving unexpectedly from out of time. I also haven't been able to get in touch with Tina.

But the roster still includes Greg, William (who's flying in from Hilo just to be there), Micheal, Christy, Kim, Veronica and Joel.

Boy, will it be... something.

We're all survivors of Ka Leo, which gives us a common enemy of sorts. But there will still be a fair amount of funny looks and snubbing. Let's just say things between Greg and Micheal, and between Joel and everyone, could be better.

Fuck it. After the year I've had, I don't have the energy to sustain grudges and track who hates whom.

Who knows when I'll see these people again? Never together, that's for sure. If anyone smiles at me, I'll talk to them. Provided no one cracks a beer bottle across my skull, I'll pretend they're all friends for a day.

We're going to karaoke by the way. William and Micheal can't wait to sing Japanese pop, and Greg will probably call up the Spice Girls.

Afterwards, I'm hoping those who can still walk will join me when I pick up Jen at work and go out for ice cream or something. Healthy or not, after working Tower Records the day after Christmas, Jen deserves anything she wants.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 25 December 1997 · Last Modified: 27 December 1997