IMR: 1999: November: 30 — Tuesday, 11:44 a.m.
CityExpress! Bus (Route A), Kapi`olani Boulevard and Ward Avenue, Hawai`i

One week of class left. Unbelievable. And fortunately, instead of a final exam, I've just got the Journalism department Christmas party to look forward to. I'll find out just how badly I fared in the writing competition.

And yike, it's also December already. I see city crews are hard at work putting up the countless elaborate displays for the annual Honolulu City Lights festival. This year has definitely been one of the shortest on record.

This semester as a bus commuter was more than long enough for me to memorize the recordings for the entire route, including the insanely long list of landmarks rattled off at one stop on the way back to work: "Now approaching Beretania and Punchbowl, Honolulu Hale, Kawa`iha`o Church, Washington Place, Queen's Hospital, State Capitol, Main Library."

Of course, when I hear that, it's time to get ready to hop off, so...

Tuesday, 9:13 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

The wind is howling outside. We've got the jalousies open just a crack, and still the curtains flap against the ceiling now and then. We're getting sprinkled with a bit of rain, too.

The weather's turning cold and wet and blustery, and I love it.

Jen's enjoying the "Welcome Back, Kotter" marathon on Nickelodeon, switching between it and the MTV Spring Break retrospective. I can't believe this is the same woman who's addicted to "Law & Order" reruns on A&E (mostly the Noth years) and borrowed Wayne's "Aeon Flux" DVD.

She can watch whatever she wants, though. She's finally got the writing bug again, pumping out two online journal entries in a row this week, after months of my relentless nagging.

My visit to her otherwise stagnated site the other day did bring one rather startling surprise: her ex-boyfriend from over seven years ago had found it and even signed her guestbook.

Although she was seeing him for only eight months, it was her only "serious" relationship prior to getting mixed up with me in 1994. They were actually engaged, and to this day there's a $500 wedding dress in a closet at her parent's house in Florida.

Suffice it to say, he left a mark in her life that took a while to fade. So of course his name haunted me as well, as would any former beau of a spouse and soulmate. I never knew what to make of the man to whom my wife was ready to devote her life. Surely, she was the least reliable source on the matter, much as she wisely takes anything I say about past girlfriends and crushes with a grain of salt.

Fortunately, thanks to the web, the man can speak for himself. And finally, I can see any anxiety or insecurity was incredibly unfounded.

He's happily married now as well, in fact, to a woman he met via America OnLine and proposed to a month later... on Valentine's Day. They said "I do" on the Fourth of July. They both love Disney movies. Their whirlwind romance is documented with photos and MIDI music for the world to see. It's too adorable.

He's definitely moved on. So I should too. It no longer troubles me to imagine the what-ifs of Jen's life. In fact, it's actually rather entertaining.

The fact that young children are innately morning people is even more proof that god has a sick sense of humor.

Katie woke up this morning at 5:45 a.m., and she was up up, too, bright eyed and ready to run around, grabbing at books and trying to get one of her two unconscious parents to read them to her.

Even as we lay there like dead lumps, she cheerfully recited what she knew of the alphabet (which is essentially everything except the letters G, L, N, W and Y), then went straight into repeatedly counting from two to ten (she doesn't know one yet, probably because our building's elevator starts at two). Then she started to sing the Teletubbies theme, and Jen and I finally joined in, mumbling the words like zombies.

When I left for work, she looked like she was ready to come with me. By the look on Jen's face, I could tell she wouldn't mind if she actually did.

I forgot to mention that last week, out of the blue, we got a call from Nate and Jaimee in Portland.

We hadn't heard from them in almost six months, and at times feared the worst. Instead, things have gotten remarkably better for them — they're both back in school, taking classes at a nearby community college — and they would in fact be visiting Hawaii for the Christmas holiday.

The last time they both were in town was last April (Jaimee came alone in December), when they attended our late wedding reception. Katie was only three and a half months old then, still a tiny, fragile little thing.

Boy, will the Katie of today be a shock!

I can't wait to see them again. We've even offered them accommodations in our apartment, if things don't work out with either of their parents. I mean, Katie's room should be used for something besides toy storage.

The whole mess unfolding in Seattle over the WTO meeting is just incredible.

Protests. Tear gas. Vandalism. Arson. The national guard has been called in, a curfew and an official state of emergency declared. Session after session of the top-level government conference cancelled because of the massive demostrations.

My boss is there, too. For once I was happy to not see him on CNN.

It's clear that Seattle's leaders blew it big time. With the world's media watching them, with all the warning signs — down to widespread reports of regional training camps devoted to disrupting the WTO meeting — they were still completely unprepared.

Firing tear gas because people wouldn't move? Any strategist will tell you measures like that should only be a last resort, for life-or-death crises. It just stoked the flames, and pushing the already riled-up activists over the edge.

And now, because of someone's itchy trigger finger, the enduring image of this historic gathering will be women dressed as dolphins and turtles clutching at their eyes.

Hell, the simple fact that protesters were able to block access to the meeting venue shows a major failure. That kind of stuff is covered in Conference Management 101. In New Zealand, protesters were able to get their message to the APEC meeting attendees and the media, but police and security made damn sure that travel corridors for delegates and head-of-state motorcades were wide and always completely clear.

To think Honolulu was this close to hosting that meeting. I mean, we fought hard for it, everyone from the governor on up was lobbying Clinton and the WTO ministers to get it here. When it went to Seattle, we were shocked and humiliated. The only bright spot left was the meeting my office was bringing to town next March, which The Honolulu Advertiser called a "consolation prize."

Well, I bet Cayetano is thanking his lucky stars now that we lost that battle. And while our organization is older than the WTO, it's also much less political. Compared to the tornado in Washington State, our meeting will barely be a gentle breeze.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 30 November 1999 · Last Modified: 02 December 1999