IMR: 1998: November: 27 — Friday, 10:23 a.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

[ Sleep ] Katie's first Thanksgiving was a quiet, modest one.

She and Jen got an early treat yesterday, sleeping in while I caught up on some work for the press. It's a rare morning that Katie doesn't jump up ready to crawl the marathon at the crack of dawn, and I enjoyed the rare treat of listening to them both snore.

Eventually we headed up to mom's, for once not bearing baskets of laundry, and had a small, special Thanksgiving lunch of cornish game hens and salad. It was our own Katie-sized celebration of the holiday, before we headed down the street to Uncle Al's house for the traditional big-family gathering.

As these things go, it was very subdued. I suspect much of the mood stemmed from the very recent news that one of my cousinswas in the hospital after a fall during a trip to Maui. His family was thus noticably absent from the party. Discussion of the incident was off limits, however, because grandmother has so far been kept in the dark. Curious as I was about how he was doing, nary a whisper was heard all night.

When mom told us on Wednesday, Jen — who had only met the cousin once — was more distraught than I was. He's a wrestler, I figured, so he stands a good chance of recovering quickly. Fact is, his family has proven to be almost fantastically resilient over the years, and will probably overcome this latest challenge quickly.

Despite the somber cloud looming above our heads, the usual staples of these holiday parties still managed to emerge.

There was the oohing and aahing over the youngsters. While everyone marveled at how big Katie was getting, I was obsessing over how quickly the other little ones were growing.

I was amazed at how much Trevor — my cousin Jennifer's son and Katie's primary competitor in the arena of grandparent affection — had grown. At 18 months, he's repeating words and answering questions, and my head spun to think Katie was less than 8 months away from doing the same. Calabash cousin Cristen, meanwhile, now sported braces. She talked our ears off about pagers and modern rock, obviously already well prepared for her teen years at the tender age of eleven.

And there was the food. Specifically, the leftovers.

As is tradition for our clan, everyone brought enough food for fifty, even though there were a total of twenty people in attendance. Not surprisingly, everyone went home at the end of the night with more food than they came with. We miraculously escaped getting stuck with tons of turkey, but despite bringing only a Chinese chicken dish and Jen's tuna noodle casserole, we left with most of our contributions plus two pies.

Friday, 9:14 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

We've been a domestic couple for almost five years, and we've still failed to learn the first lesson of grocery shopping: don't do it when you're hungry.

Jen and Katie woke up with rumbling tummies. While Katie's apetite was quickly assuaged, getting the adults fed posed a greater challenge. The last remnants of food we had in the apartment were portuguese sausages and eggs, and we'd eaten them all yesterday for lunch. If we were going to eat, we'd have to go hunt and forage at the local supermarket.

With it being the day after Thanksgiving, the thought of going anywhere near a cash register today made Jen ill to her stomach. Still, we figured more people would be looking for jeans and toaster ovens than heads of lettuce, so we hoped the crowds would be managable at the Pali Safeway.

The good news was that the parking lot was nowhere near full, but the bad news was that it had started raining. With a sleepy, grumpy Katie draped over Jen's shoulder, we raced to the door, dodging the bell ringers and cookie sellers that had set up nearby.

When, after shopping for only a couple of minutes, Jen darted off to get her own shopping cart, I should have known we were in trouble. The fact that two baggers positioned themselves at our register when we were being rung up was the second clue.

Even though we snapped up the Safeway brand equivalent for nearly every product in our cart, and even armed with my Safeway Select discount card, the damage was a fair chunk of change over $100. It was the first three digit grocery receipt I'd seen for some time.

By the time we got back to the car, drove home, and packed everything away, it was nearly 3 p.m. After shopping for lunch, it was almost time for dinner. Despite coming home with the makings of a feast, we opted for soup and crackers for our long-anticipated meal.

It worked out in the end, though. After such a light lunch, I was struck with the cooking bug, and whipped up quite a tasty beef curry and rice dish tonight.

For a guy who was once overwhelmed by the instructions to make macaroni and cheese, I didn't do half bad. I cut up the steak, chopped the carrots, even diced an onion with a minimal of tears. I even broke what was turning out to be an epic-length streak of bad luck in finally making a decent pot of rice. Altogether, I cooked what looked like enough for a family of five, but Jen and I inhaled it all in no time.

Insane as it is, and in direct contrast to my wife's view, I've always been drawn to malls on the day after Thanksgiving. I don't ever go to do any Christmas shopping — I always wait until the last weekend for that, and everyone gets CDs.

No, I just like to people watch. It's the best show in town for this longtime fan of chaos.

But Jen made clear, in no uncertain terms, that a shopping center would be the last place we'd go to spend this cherished day off.

So you can imagine how surprised we both were when we arrived at Ala Moana shortly before sunset.

As is too often the case in academia, both my professors decided this long weekend would be the perfect opportunity to hand out major assignments, of course due on Monday. Both are journals, but the one for Hawaiian — to be written entirely in Hawaiian — was clearly more daunting, so I figured I'd get to work on that one first.

That's when I realized I'd forgotten my Hawaiian dictionary in the classroom.

Even if it could be recovered, the earliest I'd see it was Monday. That wasn't going to work. So it was off to the new Waldenbooks (formerly Honolulu Book Shops) for a replacement. As we drove down, I fumed over the fact that I'd be paying retail, knowing that if I could wait three days, I could get it at 30 percent off wholesale with my UH Press staff discount.

The parking lot was almost full, only the furthest reaches having open stalls. Despite the rain and ongoing construction, it looks like the merchants were having a pretty good day.

Surprisingly, there was little pushing and shoving, and few long lines in sight as we zigzagged our way through the mall. Of all places, the Kay Bee Toy Store downstairs seemed almost quiet. Jen and I had a good laugh when I jokingly asked, "I wonder if they have any Ferbie's in stock?"

We walked into the bookstore, grabbed my dictionary, paid for it, and walked out.

That was it. A precision strike, straight through the heart of the hornets' nest, completed in less than fifteen minutes. Jen didn't go homicidal, and I still got to do a little armchair sociology.

At last night's dinner, everyone kept asking me, "How do you like your new job?" It feels so good to say, with a straight face, "I love it."

I just got my business cards last week, gold foil-accented logo and all. It was the first time I saw my official title: Assistant Manager, Information Technology and Communications. How's that for a mouthful? And though I still feel most comfortable working with the interns, I'm getting less-than-subtle hints that I should move to another office, with the expectation that within the next six months, I'll have my own intern.

(Damn that Monica Lewinsky, now that sounds absolutely nasty!)

Things are picking up, too. When they want something done, they really want it done.

For example, we'd been talking for a while about putting audio and video clips on our site. I'd even been working on a worksheet laying out all the hardware and software options, and we had our eye on a video card due out next month that looked like it would work best with our existing setup.

But last week, during the controversial APEC Business Summit in Kuala Lumpur (where Al Gore essentially said "viva la revolucion!" to a roomful of government officials), our boss was interviewed on CNN. He came back with a VHS tape, and he wanted it online yesterday.

So we headed down to CompUSA, looked over a few boxes, and grabbed a video capture card and some mid-range editing software. I downloaded all flavors of Real Networks' encoding software, and dug an unused Sony VCR out of the back office. Three hours later, it was done.

The next day, when I came in, there was a stack of twenty videotapes on my desk.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 27 November 1998 · Last Modified: 30 November 1998