IMR: 1998: July: 09 -- Thursday, 3:12 p.m.
UH Press, Manoa, Hawai`i
So for some reason the primary Hawai`i educational pipe to the internet backbone went down this morning, and access from UH to anything outside the state is pretty much impossible. And although Hawai`i OnLine seems to have a working connection, it doesn't do me much good from work, where I'm supposed to be researching cookies and other server-independent ways of setting up a shopping cart system for the press website. Which is a pretty major project to be starting on given our enormous, non-database enabled catalog, and given that tomorrow is my last day of full-time employment. But I've been asked to look into it 'cause a recent customer was annoyed that the present system requires people to remember the title of the book they want when they click to get to the web order form.

In short, my day could be going better.

Fortunately, I'm taking off early today to again answer the call of the wife, who this time -- instead of a nap -- desperately needs a hug and a kiss and an assurance that everything is going to be okay.

She returns to work on Monday and is dreading it as if it were cold, cruel death.

I'm a little nervous too, since Katie has made it clear as of late that mommy is the only one who'll do when she wants to eat, sleep, play, or otherwise exist.

While having Jen home 24 hours a day for Katie's first five months of life is unquestionably good for her overall wellbeing, it's proving to be a major problem for any other human being who intends to spend time alone with her. She's dealing with non-moms better now (a week ago it was as if Jen couldn't be further than three feet away or else she'd start screaming), thankfully, so hopefully it's just a phase.

Only she obviously won't be out of it entirely when I return to life as a full-time dad.

Jen's praying for me to get the APT job, and although it'd be bad news for my ridiculously extended academic career, I have to admit I am too. The salary is nothing to sneeze at, and with free tuition I can afford to slow down a little (as if I could go any slower). I already know I'm going to miss the kind of money I'm making right now when we've returned to depending on Jen's wages plus what little work I can squeeze in on the side.

I'm not quite holding my breath, though. I'm a bit more confident now than I was that we can manage as planned, with Jen working, me in school, and our schedules miraculously set up to require day care only four hours a week.

Nothing makes my heart ache than the thought of leaving Katie in someone else's care, if even for 30 minutes. But, hell, I was in the hands of a full-time babysitter at six weeks, and I turned out just fine.

Didn't I?

Insane. I must have been. No other way to explain why I decided, despite strong hints to the contrary from both Jen and mom, that it would be a great idea to go to Ala Moana to see the 4th of July fireworks show.

Anyone around here can tell you, it's utter chaos. The show's great, but the crowd -- numbering in the tens-of-thousands -- is too much. Folks drive all the way out to see the shows at Kailua Beach or Schofield, however pathetic they may sometimes be, just to avoid being anywhere along the southeast edge of the island on Independence Day.

Last year (do you know how long I've been waiting to make a link like that?), it took over an hour just to get out of the parking lot after the show.


Oh, but did I have it all figured out. A way to enjoy the show and yet not be ripped to shreds by the maddening multitudes. I had The Plan:

  1. Get to Ala Moana early, 3:30 p.m. at the latest (the show is at 8:30). Any time after 6 p.m., forget finding a way in or a parking space within five miles.
  2. Park on the mauka side, mall level, as close as possible to the main ramp pointing straight up Ke`eaumoku Street.
  3. Eat dinner off-peak, say 4:30 p.m., 'cause the Makai Market food court -- and any restaurant in the neighborhood -- will be packed to the gills come sunset.
  4. Secure a spot as far away from the "optimal" viewing area as possible.
  5. Enjoy the show!

    Step One? Check. We got there a little before 4 p.m.

    Step Two? Check. We got a stall practically on the ramp... Score!

    Step Three? Check. Chinese food, right on schedule.

    Step Four? Check. This year, the whole Ewa-end parking lot by Sears was roped off and lined with food tents, booths, and a stage featuring loud, local, live music. Since that was clearly where the action was, we went to the oppsite end of the mall and got a prime spot, under cover, behind Liberty House.

    Step Five? Almost, but not quite.

    The display was great. The best I'd seen, even, since high school. Jen and I enjoyed it immensely, as did Katie... for two-thirds of the show, at least.

    Now, we prepared Katie as best we could for what was coming (i.e. lots of bright lights and big booming sounds). We got her to nap for nearly an hour just before the show, so she wouldn't be cranky. And when the fireworks started, Jen held and bounced her and covered the noise as best she could with happy, enthusiastic "ooohs" and "aaaahs."

    And at first, she was dazzled by the bright colors and smiled as they coincided with mom's gentle cheers.

    But eventually, Katie realized there was just a lot going on, and by gosh she wasn't in the mood to deal with it. One unusually big bang was all it took, and she was screaming. Screaming screams that we rarely hear, screams that said, "I'm scared!"

    We packed up, ignored the stink eyes we were getting from the shoyu sluts and smelly old hags nearby, navigated the stroller through a sea of blankets, lawn chairs and shoulder-to-shoulder gawkers, and took off down the center of the mall. Katie's yells echoed through the empty (but open) stores as the thunderous crash of the megahuge finale boomed overhead.

    She stopped screaming the minute we got her in the car. We rolled out of the mall and straight up to the apartment, miraculously escaping the inevitable nightmare of gridlock.

    "Oh well, maybe next year," I said.

    Jen sighed in agreement, but her eyes, as viewed in the rear view mirror, seemed to say, "Hell no."

    The evening's adventures didn't end there, though. When we got home, Jen was distressed at the amount of fireworks being set off in the neighborhood. My frequent recitation of the statistics surrounding Makiki's urban density apparently stuck, and she jumped at every snap, crackle, and pop.

    At one point she proposed going out to Mililani. I had to call mom to prove to her that people go even more overboard with the pyrotechics in Central O`ahu.

    Fortunately, everyone was in a law-abiding mood, and by the time Jen turned in at 11 p.m., the backyard/balcony celebrations had subsided.

    Hey. Fancy that. My first Independence Day with a dependent.

    We got most of the Ala Moana fireworks on video, actually, as well as footage of our afternoon touring Ala Moana beforehand. Eventually the tape will be shipped off to Jen's dad in Florida, but at least we have the chance to enjoy the show in the peace and quiet of our living room.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 30 June 1998 · Last Modified: 17 July 1998