Friday, March 30, 2007


I was finally able to pick up my car. On Wednesday, the day I couldn't get an appointment because it wasn't available. But she arrived, and it was very nice to drive my own pretty shiny vehicle. Which will now become a sandpit from our daily trips to the beach, but I guess that's why God invented vacuum cleaners. We've received the shelves and bedside tables that we ordered from and Ebay, respectively. We're getting HD cable (with a DVR) and high-speed internet and and a landline telephone today. We can finally do justice to our big white trash TV. Baby steps.
Speaking of, on a personal level, things appear to be good on the pregnancy front. I've had good ultrasounds 2 weeks in a row, and am 3 weeks from being out of the 1st trimester. My belly is starting to expand, thought to the uninitiated viewer, I look chubby rather than pregnant. My boobs, which have never been for the faint of heart, are seriously taking on a life of their own. Oy. (And thus endeth the pregnancy updates -- I refuse to be one of those women who acts like she's the first person to procreate and can't stop blathering about every aspect of her pregnancy, even though nobody else gives a shit).
Yesterday the ice cream man came -- much to my delight, I learned he comes every week -- so we had a chance to meet some of the neighbors. There's Alma, the tiny little Japanese lady who is totally into her garden, to the point that she goes around with chopsticks some mornings picking up slugs. She's sweet as can be and gave us a plant for our yard. Alma introduced us to Heather and her son, Cody, who live around the corner, and to Leila, who lives the next street over. Everyone is super-nice and welcoming.
I'm getting adjusted to working at home. I miss the structure and the social interaction of going to an office, but I get alot of work done at home, and I can work on my own schedule (start early and finish early), so it's not bad.
And did I mention that we're getting cable today?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Blase island attitude + administrative bullshit = smoke coming out of my ears

My car is in Honolulu. It arrived on the ship yesterday. I called this morning to find out when I could come pick it up. The conversation went something like this.

Me: Hi, I'm calling to find out when I can pick up my car. It arrived on the ship yesterday, I believe. Here's my booking number...

Her: Did someone call you to make an appointment to come get the car?

Me: No, but I knew the ship was arriving at port yesterday, so I figured I'd call today.

Her: Oh, OK. Well, your car is here.

Me: Great. When can I get it?

Her: You have to make an appointment to pick it up. Unfortunately, I don't have any appointments for today. I can put you on a waiting list for tomorrow, or I can give you a definite appointment for Wednesday.

Me: I don't understand. My car is here, but I'm not allowed to come get it?

Her: Pickups are only by appointment. I don't have any appointments left for today. I can put you on a waiting list for tomorrow, or I can give you an appointment for Wednesday.

Me: Fine, make it Wednesday. What time on Wednesday?

Her: Hold on a second.

[I'm on hold for about 3 minutes]

Her: Thanks for holding. Your car isn't available.

Me: What? I thought you said it was here.

Her: It is here, but it's not available to be picked up.

Me: I don't understand. I thought you said the car was here.

Her: It hasn't been off-loaded from the ship yet. It'll probably be off-loaded tomorrow, and then it will be ready to be picked up on Wednesday.

Me: OK, so I can still keep my Wednesday appointment?

Her: No.

Me: Why not?

Her: Unfortunately, I can't schedule you an appointment if the car isn't available. When it's available, we'll call you to set up an appointment.

Me: [Heavy sigh]. OK. Thanks.

This is the shit that drives me crazy about moving. I can handle the packing and unpacking of boxes, the chaos of trying to set up a new place, etc. But when other people have your stuff, you are completely at their mercy. They can be as ridiculous as they want, and there's nothing I can do. I can't yell, I can't threaten, I can't cajole. They have all the power. They've got me over the barrel, and they know it and I know it. Fuckers.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Removing all doubt that we are, in fact, in Hawaii

We were out running errands this morning and stopped into a McDonald's to get something to drink. On the breakfast menu: a spam, egg & cheese McMuffin.

Friday, March 23, 2007

We've got a sit-down with the Jews

We got here just in time for Passover, which is my favorite Jewish holiday.  I love the ritual of it, the food, everything.  So the prospect of having having no one to have a seder with was really depressing me.  But it turns out the local synagogue (whose web address is -- how awesome is that?!) has a community seder, so Jason and I signed up to go.  The lady on the phone was so nice and welcoming, and even promised to put us at a table with other young couples.  I'm so excited.
Things are coming along nicely.  Jason adores his surfboard, though he went a little crazy yesterday, so today he's really sore and sunburned.  I've settled into a work routine.  Tonight we're going to go into Honolulu for dinner and a movie.  We've got Passover to look forward to, and then Dave and Michele come after that.  I'm not feeling so unmoored or lonely anymore.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The King of Karma

She's so pretty

Jason bought a surfboard today, in a way that typifies who he is. He is, without question, the biggest "people person" I've ever met, to the extent that I wonder how a misanthrope like me ended up with him. He says hello to everyone, can strike a conversation with anyone, and is interested in what people have to say to him. I, on the other hand, find most people I meet boring - I hate small talk and have little interest in chatting with strangers.
Anyway. Back to the surfboard story.

Jason drove up to the North Shore today, famous for its huge waves and surf culture. He figured it was the best place to get a decent board at a decent price. As he was driving up, he passed a Hawaiian dude hitchhiking by the side of the road. The guy looked to be in his 40s and was carrying a really cool board. Jason drove by him at first, but then turned around to pick the guy up. Turns out, the guy is a board shaper and he knows all of the surf shop proprieters worth knowing on the North Shore, so in exchange for Jason giving him a ride, he went shopping with Jason. They went into a store that looked kind of shabby from the front but had an amazing array of beautiful boards in the back. Jason's hitcher and the owner hugged and talked in Hawaiian for a couple of minutes, then the owner led Jason out back and showed him a gorgeous, barely used 9 ft. epoxy longboard. Perfect for the smaller waves on this side of the island and for teaching novices (known here as grommets) how to surf (that means you, Rocchios!). It was priced at $470 (and worth every penny), but the guy let Jason have it for $270.

After getting his board, Jason went and sat on the beach for a little while, watching the waves. As he sat there, he saw a pod of whales swim by. Not a bad day, all in all.

There really is a rainbow every day

Jason took this shot as he was on his way to the beach the other day:

We've been here 5 days. Our new place is a townhouse on an old decommissioned naval base. It'll do for the time being, but it's pretty basic.
our laundry room

The first thing in our fridge was dog food.
making red thai curry chicken our second day in the house
our empty living room pre-TV....
...and after. Our "Fiddy" -- she's so pretty.

The beach is 5 minutes away and beautiful. We go every day.

We still have tons of stuff to do to set up the house, but we're developing a schedule and starting to get somewhat acclimated. Jason is up at the North Shore as I type this, buying a surf board.

San Francisco pics

I only just got around to loading the pictures from San Francisco onto the computer. We got some good ones.

Cool San Francisco architecture

Fort Funston park, where we took the dog for a walk

View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks

Jason with Sara, our San Francisco hostess

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Chrissy Field

Haight-Ashbury and the Castro

Sunday, March 18, 2007


So, we're here. The dog made it fine -- I think he handled the flight better than I did. Every time we went through turbulence I started to cry. But we got him from the quarantine station and everything was fine and we're in our new place. We're renting a place in Kapolei, an area that's being developed over on the west side of the island. It's old Navy housing that's been converted to rentals. Lots of linoleum floors and painted cinderblock walls, but that's pretty much par for the course in Hawaii. We've spent the last two days starting to set up house. The first night we slept on a camping mattress and ate pizza sitting on the kitchen floor. Yesterday we bought a card table and some chairs, plus a bed and a TV. A 50 inch plasma flat panel, to be exact. Don't ask me how I allowed my husband to talk me into it, but I did. Sam's Club had a great deal, so whatever. The irony is that we can't get our cable hooked up (or our internet or phone) for another two weeks, so we look at the TV and remark on how pretty it is. We did rent some movies last night, so we got to try it out -- the picture is unbelievable.

Today we're going to check out some garage sales, maybe score a couch or a dresser. It's hard starting from scratch. The weather is great and the beach is 5 minutes away, but I feel kind of lonely and unmoored.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Andrea: 5 Manolos

We're at the airport. Max's crate passed muster, and he actually seemed relatively calm when he got into the crate. I still cried when we drove away from the cargo place, but I'm confident he'll be OK. Our bags are checked, we're through security, and we're on our way to Hawaii.

I would have gone completely insane over the past few days without the help of my friend Andrea, so this post is devoted to her and her awesomeness. I've rated her various actions/accomplishments using Manolo Blahniks as a rating system (instead of stars), as a nod to Andrea's sense of style and her slammin' shoe collection.

  • Three out of the four nights we were in San Francisco, Andrea and Deena take time out of their busy schedules to have dinner with us, show us around the city and give us yummy gourmet chocolates. (4 Manolos)
  • Andrea takes time out of her busy work day to meet us for lunch and introduces us to yummy Vietnamese food. (4 Manolos)
  • Andrea gets up at 4:30 in the morning to pick us up to take us, all of our shit, and our dog to the airport. (5 Manolos)
  • For our trip, Andrea has put together a little gift bag with chocolates, saltines (for the pregnant lady), organic applesauce, pistacio nuts, raisins, protein bars and napkins and utensils, plus a funny postcard. Everything is labelled and adorable. (5 Manolos)
  • Andrea goes online and does all kinds of research about the guy at the cargo place that was a complete dick to us, including getting the name and titles of all of his supervisors and their phone numbers, and finding the specific requirements for dog kennels. Her advice is, "never go into a fight unprepared." (4 Manolos)
  • Andrea gets up at 4:30 in the morning for the second day in a row to once again take us, all of our shit, and our dog to the airport. She is unfailingly chipper and gracious, as ever. (5,000 Manolos)
Deena was also a wonderful hostess, hanging with Jason and me for delicious pizza and taking us around to see cool parts of the city. (5 Fender Guitars) (she's a rock star). Sara, my mom's college roommate, put us and the dog up in her house for 4 days, could not have been more welcoming, and generally made our stay here comfortable and easy. (5 Tropical Fish) (she's a SCUBA diver and is big into coral reef preservation).

I'm not sure what I did to deserve such wonderful friends, but I sure do love and appreciate them.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mission aborted

It was bound to happen.  We were due.  Everything on the trip had gone so smoothly, it was inevitable that something really shitty happened at some point, and sure enough, it happened today.

Max's crate is one I bought over 10 years ago.  It's still perfectly fine, but over the years I lost the screws that held the top and bottom pieces together, so the other day I went to the hardware store and bought some really strong clips that fit through the holes and held the thing together really well.  Or so I thought.

We arrived at the cargo facility at 5:20 this morning, only to have the supervisor on duty inform us that the clips were not acceptable and that he wouldn't ship Max in the container as is.  Of course, he couldn't just say, "hey, I'm really sorry, but we have specific requirements and what you have doesn't meet them.  Here's what you can do to fix it, and we can ship him tomorrow."  Instead, he had to be a complete dick about it.  First he said, he wasn't sure, then he said he would do it, but he'd probably get fired.  We took that as a begrudging "yes" (accompanied by lectures and generally making me feel like an asshole, which I was willing to suck up if he would ship the dog). 

So we went into the office and started filling out the paperwork and processing everything.  Then Dickhead (aka Mr. Yamamoto) comes back, and I thank him again, and he says, "don't say thank you.  I haven't decided if I'll do it.  In fact, I'm leaning against it."  We (Jason, Andrea and I) try to ask nicely and appeal to his better nature, but this only seems to piss him off and he decided that he wouldn't do it.  In the meantime, he has wasted 45 minutes of time that could have been spent going to the Home Depot, which was, in fact, open, and where we could have bought nuts and bolts that would have satisfied him.

So basically, we were screwed.  I wasn't going to leave the dog, so we've had to rebook our tickets (at an expense of an extra $300) and reschedule everything - the rental car, the meeting with the rental agent, blah blah blah. 

We went to the hardware store and bought the requisite fasteners, so we'll try again tomorrow.  I will hold my tongue and suck up whatever additional lectures/rudeness Mr. Yamamoto throws my way. 

Once my dog and I are safely in Hawaii, I will write an ass-burner of a letter to his boss and do my damndest to get him in trouble.  Schmuck.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Panic sets in

Our chores are all done.  We're all organized.  The car is at the port ready to be shipped, the dog is cleared to be released from the quarantine department at the Honolulu airport.  Everything is set.  So why am I now starting to have a massive anxiety attack?  Partly because tomorrow it all becomes real -- this thing that has been out there for so long finally becomes a reality.  Partly because I'm worried about the dog.  Poor Max has never flown, and he's a big ol' pussy, so I'm worried about him being miserable.  I know he'll survive it, and once it's done, he never has to do it again, but I'm still all agitated on his behalf.  I'm also a little bugged because I'm trying to get an OB appointment and so far everyone I call is booked through late April, which is unacceptable.  But I'll get through it.  Everything will be taken care of.  And tomorrow, after weeks of being in limbo and feeling like a nomad, I will finally be in a place that I can start calling "home."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

San Francisco. End of the line.

We arrived in San Francisco yesterday afternoon. It was so nice to drive down from the Sierra Nevadas into Sacramento and see green grass and flowers blooming and trees budding. After looking at brown landscape for 4 days, it was almost startling how lush everything was.

We're staying with my mom's college roommate who has a great house in Noe Valley, about 3 blocks from where my friends Andrea and Deena live. So last night we picked a restaurant around the corner and met up for a lovely meal. It was so good to see them.

Today we've got chores to do -- trips to the hardware store, getting a chip in the car's windshield fixed, taking the dog to the vet for his final checkup.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Reno, Nevada

We spent today driving from Salt Lake City to Reno. It's about 500 miles of desert plains and mountains. We didn't stop and do or see anything because there is no-o-o-thing. There were a couple of small towns that consisted largely of trailers and shacks and a gas station or two, but other than that it was miles and miles and miles of open space.
This is the beginning of a 50 mile stretch of high west of Salt Lake City that is absolutely flat and straight. No bumps, no turns for 50 miles.
Salt flats in the Great Salt Lake Desert

Nevada landscape. This is pretty much what we looked at all day.

So we listened to music and chatted and stopped at rest areas to walk the dog. The speed limit is 75 on the freeway and we averaged about 80, so we made pretty good time. We're going to chill in the room for a little while and then go play some slots and have a little dinner. We'll hit San Francisco tomorrow.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Zion and Bryce Canyon

I feel like my recent posts have been nothing but, "wow, what spectacular landscapes." But there really isn't much else to say. I've never been to this part of the country before, and it just blows my mind how amazing the views are, with the canyons and cliffs and buttes and mesas and hoodoos. We got up early and headed to Zion National Park, so named because early Mormon settlers found it to be a "place of refuge or sanctuary." The Virgin River runs through the park, and there's a 3.5 mile walking path that follows the river, so we took Max for a stroll. It was about 55 degrees and sunny -- perfect for a little hike in the canyon.

We drove out of Zion through back roads that wind through the park and are carved right into the rock formations.
We then headed to Bryce Canyon, about 80 miles away. The drive took us up to a high plateau that had a beautiful valley with streams and farms surrounded by mountains. The land is beautiful and rich looking. I can see how settlers would come upon it and feel like they could make a life there.
Bryce Canyon is characterized by incredible rock formations that look like giant versions of the wet sand drippy castles we make at the beach. The formations are called "hoodoos," and they're made by millions of years of erosion. There are lookouts over the Bryce Amphitheater, which is a huge area filled with miles and miles of hoodoo formations. At times we were so high up (over 8000 ft.) looking down that it made me a little dizzy.
After all the eye-candy, we hit the road and headed for Salt Lake City. Max had a nice snooze in his palatial set-up in the back seat.
From here, we'll head west on I-80 all the way to San Francisco.


My friends and family will be gratified to know that I am continuing the proud tradition that my father and I maintain of saying wildly culturally inappropriate things in public places (see, i.e., the "Suplise!" episode and "Heil Hitler!" If anyone is unaware of what I'm referring to, email me and I'll clue you in. They're doozies.)

Last night Jason and I were having dinner in a restaurant in Cedar City, Utah, which, as I mentioned in my previous post, is heavy-duty fundamentalist Mormon country. We were sitting in a booth and I was talking about my disdain for fundamentalist Mormons, particularly my opinion that their practices of forcing 12 and 13 year old girls to marry/live with/sleep with/obey men chosen by their fathers or town elders is nothing more than modern day slavery and organized statutory rape. I also made the comment that Utah is beautiful, but full of religious wackos. The whole time I was talking, Jason was making signs for me to shush and giving me "keep it down" faces. I blew him off with, "fuck it, it's a free country, I can say whatever I want."

Half an hour later, a man got out of the booth behind us and as he passed us, turned and gave me an incredibly mean, angry look. He glared at me for a couple of seconds and then left the restaurant. Turns out he was sitting in the booth behind us, reading The Book of Mormon. That's why Jason kept giving me the "ixnay on the ormon-may" signs. Oops.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Grand Canyon

Today was just awesome. In the true sense of the word. Awesome, awe-inspiring, magnificent, splendiferous, and any other superlative you can think of. Today we went to see the Grand Canyon. Which is, as the name implies, grand. It's so huge, so colorful, so old, so beautiful. I can't really describe it in words in a way that will do justice to what it's like to see it. So I'll show you pictures instead (and clicking on any of the pictures will bring up a full size version):

Adding to the perfection of the day was the absolutely gorgeous weather we had. About 60 degrees, sunny blue skies, and a lovely cool breeze.

We spent the rest of the day driving around the Canyon to get to Utah, which mean we had to drive east underneath it, and then north, and then west again. It was all on back roads. I felt like we were in that final scene of Thelma and Louise. The route took us through Indian reservations and the heart of canyon country, including driving through part of the Grand Canyon itself when we crossed over the Colorado River. We basically spent the day gaping in awe at the landscape around us. The conversation in the car tended to go something like this:

[Silence. We look around, admiring the scenery. Then we come over a rise or turn a curve and there's an amazing vista before us]
Wendy: Wow. Look at that.
Jason: Jesus. That's incredible.

Wendy: Amazing. Just amazing.

Jason: Spectacular.

[More silence as we look around. We crest another hill.]
Jason: Holy shit. That's unreal.

Wendy: I know. Wow. Just--wow.

Jason: It looks like another planet or something.

Wendy: Holy crap. Look over there.

Jason: Awesome.


Wendy: I have to pee.

Part of the drive took us out of the valley with the buttes and mesas around us and up into a national forest. We climbed about 3000 feet up (to about 8000 ft.) and all of a sudden we were in a pine forest where there was still a ton of snow on the ground. It was bizarre how suddenly the landscape changed from something that looked like the moon to something that looked like the woods in north Georgia, in a span of about 20 minutes. We stopped to stretch our legs and let Max romp around. He had a blast. We threw snowballs at him (gently) and he hopped around like it was the best game in the world.

Back on the road, we eventually descended back into the valley, and the scenery resumed its Mars-esque quality.

Much of what we drove through was a Navajo reservation. The poverty is horrifying. No wonder they're all drunk and miserable.

Just before the Utah border, we entered Colorado City, Arizona. The houses started to get bigger and nicer and look suspiciously compound-like. We then saw a sign informing us that Colorado City was founded in 1985. Hmm.. Why would anyone found a dumpy city in the harsh (but beautiful) desert in the middle of effing nowhere? To practice polygamy and slavery of young girls, of course!! When I saw a woman wearing a long dress looking after a passel of blond children, I know we had hit Fundamentalist Mormon country. I looked for enslaved 12-year old girls married to men 5 times their age, but didn't see any.We're spending the night in Cedar City, Utah. There was a copy of The Book of Mormon in the hotel room. Creepy. Tomorrow we're going to Zion National Park and then up to Bryce Canyon. Should be another day of jaw-dropping beauty.