All In My Head

Ooh. Ah. Oh. Eee. Eye.

Ooh. Ah. Oh. Eee. Eye.

It's been a month and a half since coming back from my month long trip in Hawaii. For me, I needed some time to let the whole trip simmer inside my head.

A lot of people think Hawaii as this exotic place. Don't get me wrong, it can be if you're going there on vacation, and in my opinion, Waikiki is what people think of when it comes to da H.I. That's what it was to me. Although, I've spent time hiking in different places, most of my experience was trapped there. Get it? Cuz it be a tourist trap. Sorry. This time around, I wanted to explore a bit more, the neighborhoods where the locals lived, and even took a cool bus trip up the north shore.

The beach front properties, the massive luxury hotels like The Sheraton, Hilton, Moana Surfrider line the man made beach of Waikiki. Most people don't know that most of the sand people sunbathe on originated from California and Australia. Waikiki stretches about two miles along the south. Even walking a few blocks away from the beach, behind Ala Wai Canal, you'll see that Hawaii isn't just about luxury. Comparable to the streets of San Francisco, the homeless team the sidewalks and beach and grassy parks. I mean, why wouldn't you? As opposed to sleeping on the streets in the city by the bay, Hawaii's weather, even at night, provides more than comfortable temperatures. During this trip, I found the definition of beach bumb was literal and not just figurative.

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Locals hang their clothes to dry, kids play in abandoned parks, buildings, and concrete beds seen usually in war torn countries, and religious groups, usually non-whites, gather for their weekly meetings in out-of-the-way parks; parks where I had to walk a good half hour back away from the pristine shores of Waikiki. Though, I never felt threatened, maybe because after a few days on the beach, swim trunks, and flippity flops I looked like a local.

I thought I had seen some of the worse. Don't know why I thought this, but here we are. Then I ventured down to Chinatown. I've been to the Hawaiian Islands many times and have always drove past Chinatown on the way in from Honolulu airport. It wasn't until this trip I had the time to go to mytown.

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I took The Bus to downtown Honolulu, where Chinktown is, and got off at...how do I say this...a small version of the ghetto, if the ghetto was located next to Hell. Despite my own slanty eyes melding me into the background of the locals, I didn't feel safe. The homeless occupied every corner. Stores felt dirty, icky, and every package I picked up to look at the price left an invisible layer of gunk on my fingers. It got so bad, I had to rush into a bathroom to wash my hands. Garbage carpeted the streets, piled high in some places. Store fronts were dilapidated, and a local who used to live on the mainland told me all the health scores of eateries had failing grades. Fantastic. Needless to say, I never ate there.

Now before you tell me how my blood has thinned cause I live in the burbs, I visit my mom weekly and she used to live in West Oakland. West Oakland is also known as the void cause white people avoid it like the plague, where the white on rice hold on to their brown husk.

In saying all these positives, I actually loved exploring these areas. It gives a neat dimension to any place and provides perspective. So far, I don't have to wonder about where or when my next meal will come, I'm not in the business of curing cancer, and I don't suffer from anything beyond a caffeine high, a brain freeze from drinking an Icee too fast, or the occasional fear of public speaking. Whether my books will be widely received or not, I don't know, given the thousands of hours spent working on them. In the end, I have no right to complain about anything.

And, really, that's what this last trip to Hawaii sunk in for me. All the problems in my life are in my head, and no matter where I go, I bring them with me. But I also have the power to let them go, cause their in my head. Another words, they ain't real. Unless I'm being chased by a great white shark, in which case bye-bye world.

Found the Freemasons!

I found them! I found the Freemasons! Ipod II 765 Click to enlarge

I took a short break from work today and walked amongst my peeps.  I went to Chinatown.  Chinatown is a huge tourist trap.  There are restaurants that serve food from every province of China.  And along the dingy streets are little shops that sells authentic Chinese wares.  Wares that you can only find in old China.  There were back scratchers, water pistols, Manchurian queues (the ponytails) sewn in hats, cone straw caps for those sunny days, tea cups with zodiac symbols, Japanese swords, solar-powered crickets that chirped in satin green boxes, postcards of half naked men and women.  Real authentic stuff.

The problem with walking amongst my peeps are the tourists.  It's like 50% Asians and 50% non Asians.  So I leave the beaten path and go up one street.  Now, it's more like 90% Asians.  I can hear the mahjong tiles percolating through a shut steel door, the smell of rot and herbs stream out of an herbal store, Cantonese being yelled across the streets, elders crowd into a scummy coffee shop (rumored to be leaders of a Triad chapter).  Then lo and behold I find the Freemasons.  Didn't think there were Chinese peeps in that organization.

I once took a cruise with some friends to Mexico.  The first stop was Puerto Vallarta.  The beach front properties sported souvenir stores, restaurants, and chain bars like Senior Frogs with tons of drunk Americans dancing and laughing.  My friend and I decide to explore a bit and go a street back.  Then the realities of Mexico hit us.  Human stench coursed up our noses.  Kids in gray rags walked bare foot.  The only Americans we saw from the cruise ship visited a massive church, the only building in good condition.  It looked like bombs destroyed the buildings and marred the streets into rubble.  To say it was night and day would be ridiculous.  The experience, however, was much appreciated, singeing the images in my mind.

I applied this to my writing.  In my book, I've created a fairly simple utopia.  On the front, every thing looks and works fine.  But behind the scene, evil lurks that my hero has to deal with.  More daunting, he realizes that this evil has lurked for most of his life under his nose.  I think a lot of stories start out with a nice image.  Then as things start to unfold, we as the audience find sinister things are squirming underneath neat layers.

I did this with myepisodes. The story seems easy enough.  A researcher is sent to find out why a pack of wolves are devouring innocent people.  But underneath someone is driving the events that are taking place.  The question becomes, will our hero find out?  Read them and find out.

Crazy Hair

Once we had come in, the rain started to layer the Chinatown streets with deep puddles. It was 2 o'clock in the morning. We'd just come from a dark club and our eyes hadn't adjusted to the florescent lit diner. I threw up two fingers. "Choose any table," a waiter said in his fresh off the plane accent.

My close friend and I chose a table by the window. Layers of prior meals washed with soiled napkins and warm tea made the table sticky, dingy. The menus were well worn by repeated usage from drunk bar hoppers. The faint smell of the kitchen and the light clanging of ladles striking woks percolated.

An older waitress strolled to our table and grinned, turning her eyes to slanted slits. Cheeks healthy with the greasy foods the wait staff must eat every night. "Ready to ohdah?"

I nodded and ordered the Hong Kong style noodles, combination. Not the best to keep my girlish figure, but it was late and I was starving. My friend only eats kosher and just drank water.

Just then two men were seated directly behind me. One of them had gelled, brown hair that flared out like he jumped out of a plane. He plopped down and the back of his chair shoved mine forward. I thought I was going to tip over. So I leaned back against his chair. The waiter took their order and left. Crazy hair leaned back against the chair. I pushed back. This went on for five minutes.

Deciding I didn't want to do this anymore, I turned around in my chair, tapped his shoulder and was about to ask him to move his chair up.

"Why you touching me?" Crazy Hair said. He was Colombian.

"Can you move your--"

Crazy Hair stands up, throws his hands to the side. "Why you touching me? You want to do something?"

"You're hitting the back of my chair," I said.

"You hitting, too. It's not my fault."

At this point I don't remember the conversation much. My teacher always taught me to deescalate the situation. But once Crazy stood up, threw his arms to the side, deescalation went out the window. He took a position of power, standing up, and began to antagonize me. He was going to hit me.

My mind became silent. My body wanted to tense up, but it didn't. I remained calm. I was highly aware of my right arm, ready to launch. My legs were well prepared to leap up. My abs sat on the edge of clenching. I was staring right in to his milky green, brown eyes, watching for a flicker. The flicker that telegraphs movement. My peripheral vision kept a close watch of his hands. Any sudden, sharp movement made, and my body would have exploded. I could feel it edging closer and closer to attacking. My spoken words were broken because I wasn't listening to what he said.

"I'm just joking, man. I'm not from this country," Crazy Hair said, waving his hands around my face.

I put my hands on my chin to block anything he may try. "You're Colombian, right?"

"How do you know?"

"I used to have a close friend who was Colombian."

"Ah." He laughs. He looks over at my friend, who happens to be my teacher. "You look bothered."

I'd totally forgot my friend was there. His 6'2" frame was imposing. But it's nothing compared to his stare. When I looked over, my teacher was ready to pounce. "I'm not bothered," my friend said, and smiled. His eyes didn't.

"I'm sorry. I'm not from this country," Crazy repeats. "Sometimes I go crazy cuz of my blood. Come over, sit with us."

I looked at his friend who seemed calm. Why was he so calm?

"Come sit with us."

I said no.

"What? I'm apologize for this, but if you want to go to what we do before, let's do it."

Tsing Tao beers were served. Crazy's friend egged him to sit down in Spanish. After a minute, Crazy pulled his chair to the side and sat down. I've been in amateur full contact fights, but this was pretty intense. In a tournament fight, I know I'm going to fight. Last night, however, would have been my first real fight. Win or lose, I was ready. My friend/teacher was ready. With their drunken stupor and poor judge of character, I'm sure we would have prevailed and spent the night behind bars for doing so.