IMR: 1999: October: 15 —  Friday, 10:50 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Robbie Williams was the lead singer of Take That. Marc Anthony played a cop in Hackers (I knew he looked familiar). Anthony Kiedes is saying, "With birds I share this lonely view." And the woman in the Santana video dances like a chicken.

The things you learn when you're married to a VH1 addict.

Okay, I admit it. I really like the network. I don't mind pop rock anymore. I must be getting too old to fight the power... or whatever.

So when its sports or political commentary on CNN and when there's no 'Law & Order' or 'Simpsons' reruns, I flip over and veg out to Third Eye Blind and Melissa Etheridge.

I guess it still has a bad rep from way back, when MTV was considered the edgier, more real music channel and VH1 was corporate hopped-up elevator music — even though they're owned by the same company anyway. But now they're both unapologetically corporate and sterile, and frankly, there's more music on VH1 than on "Music Television."

And when it comes to "original" programs? VH1 is on a roll, especially after MTV went and canceled 'Sifl and Olly.' You've got 'Pop-Up Video' (you know you're on to something when labels are trying to prevent their artists from being featured), 'Before They Were Rock Stars,' 'Storytellers,' 'Rock and Roll Jeopardy' (Jen would make a fortune on that show)...

I still find myself watching 'Behind the Music' even when I've never heard of the band, and even though the script for every single show is pretty much the same.

"Little did he know the worst was yet to come. And later, a battle with drugs and depression forces a desperate choice... when 'Behind the Music' continues."

And of course: "And when we return, after years lost and lonely, he truly comes home. And is a comeback in the works?"

I think the only way the network convinces artists to whine about their dismal failures and drag out all their dirty laundry is by promising them a (usually unrealistic) happy ending.

Jeezus, Santana again? It's been what, half an hour?

At least it's not Lenny Kravitz. I like his stuff and I like the videos, but a 15-minute rotation is just a bit too much.

So I've been busy. I know I've really been running in high gear because my body is again protesting. Icky dry skin (my hands look like those of an old man), cold sores, indigestion and an iffy appetite. And of course I've bitten all my fingernails off, and frankly, my toenails were starting to look pretty good.

But for once, it's school stressing me out. Not that work hasn't been insane, but believe it or not, class assignments are actually keeping me out late and up nights.

Brislin's got me. I got perfect scores in the last three assignments, and part of me just doesn't want to settle for anything less.

Last week I was at Hamilton Library until it closed, rummaging through the microfilm archives to survey historical coverage of the homeless back through the 70s. And this week, classmate Mikel and I headed downtown to pound the pavement for the latest article. Jen has been a godsend, too, checking out sources over the phone to help me find the most talkative and least paranoid.

Last night, Mikel and I went downtown, interviewing police, folks at the K-Mart in Iwilei, and finally across the street to the IHS men's shelter to capture some "real voices."

It was, in no small way, educational. We got the full tour, hung out behind the glass with the staff, and of course wandered around on the floor trying to find someone to talk to. Though many had a lot to say, none would do it on the record, and after Brislin's lecture earlier in the day on the evils of anonymous sources, we just filed them as background (if not complete wastes of time).

Just before lights out at 10 p.m., fortunately, we met a wonderful, articulate, and completely open 53-year-old Hawaiian man recently out of prison and very serious about his own rehabilitation. In many ways he was miles away from the one-dimensional, polarized picture of a homeless person, exactly what we were hoping to find.

But we never offered him a cigarette.

See, both Mikel and I were told that the best ice breaker was to have a pack of cigarettes. So before we met in Chinatown, I stopped at the 24-hour Long's Drugs on Pali Highway to buy a pack. It was ridiculous. I had no idea what I was doing, and paced around for a while, looking and feeling like a kid trying to pick up his first box of condoms.

Finally I went up to the register. I'd practiced saying 'Marlboro' and even knew there was a variety people called 'reds.' I casually said, "Can I get a pack of Marlboro reds?"

Flawless. I was home free!

"Hard pack or box?" she asked.

"Uhhmmm," I said. "I uhhh..."

"Doesn't matter?"

"Doesn't matter," I said, relieved.

I still don't know what I got, and the only person who smoked any of them was Mikel. Now my shirt stinks and I have a nearly-full pack of cigarettes that Jen doesn't want anywhere near our apartment.

The things I do for a grade.

Yesterday was also my regular Journalism Department advising appointment with Dr. Keever, now a full professor and deservedly so. We looked things over, records stretching back seven years, and concluded my graduation was now expected in Spring 2000.

I only have one journalism class left. But it's only offered in the fall. So I have to wait until August 2000 to take it. Thus, another delay.

The extra time won't go to waste, though. I still need to take one more Hawaiian class (Hawaiian Myths and Legends with Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask?), and check with the College of Arts and Sciences for any hidden core lapses.

But it just figures. If I get out before Fall 2002 — a decade after I first enrolled in the university — I'll still be surprised.

Katie has just been amazing. Every week, she's a whole different feisty ball of energy and curiosity. And I'm still afraid to get too excited about how fast she's growing and learning because I might jinx it.

She tries to talk, now, constantly. She responds vocally to everything, from us, to the Teletubbies and Steve on 'Blue's Clue's,' to the ring of telephones, to any barking dog within a three-mile radius. Her babbling is so expressive, so conversational, the tone so much like the way Jen and I speak, it's eerie. If I'm not paying attention, I think it's Jen going "Ah dee!"

She counts things, though out of order. Two is "shoo," four is "fo," six and seven are "shish" and "sese." She calls out "a ball!" everytime she see's anything even remotely spherical, and tells us when she's ready (the aforementioned "ah dee!") to go out or take a bath.

She's still fearless as ever, at least in water. We took her to Magic Island last weekend and she just went nuts. She wasn't even fazed by getting toppled by waves and ending up with a nose full of water.

On the other hand, just this week she's suddenly become terrified of being flipped upside-down, despite loving it ever since she was three months old. I just lifted her feet one day, and she grabbed frantically at anything she could reach and whimpered, where before she'd just shriek and giggle.

The development of a sense of mortality is always a bummer.

But the crowning achievement, the golden milestone of the month, came Wednesday night during a visit at mom's.

She was eating heartily, rice, salad, meat, so we decided to see how she'd like beets. Jen hates 'em, but I don't mind 'em, so there was a chance, however slim, that Katie would take them.

As I put the fork near her mouth, she saw all of us smiling and staring, and she was ecstatic to be the star of the moment. But the minute the beet hit her tongue, she couldn't disguise her disgust, and it fell into her lap.

But here's the kicker: she was so drunk on our attention, she wanted us to see her try and eat the beet anyway.

She picked it up. She moved it toward her lips very, very slowly, leaning forward and grinning like a maniac. She opened her mouth. The beet almost went in.

But in a sudden and deliciously sneaky maneuver, she threw her head back and said, "Mmmmmmm!" while at the same instant shoving her hand between her legs to hide the offending veggie.

A beet bluff! Her first attempt to deceive us, ever! I'm so very, very proud!

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 15 October 1999 · Last Modified: 18 October 1999