Monday, February 23, 2009

Gecko Greetings from the Big Island

Just got back from the Big Island this weekend and needless to say, I have a new favorite animal. These beautiful creatures are not only fabulous at selling auto insurance, but they are very fun to watch! They are quite playful with each other and seem to love striking a pose for tourists. I definitely got the "I'm ready for my closeup" expression from a few over lunch.

Thus ends the February island hopping adventures (thankfully afforded by Go Airlines major deals!) This weekend was a bit different from Maui, in that it encompassed both high points (see above gecko love!) and low points. Well low may be extreme...stressful and seemingly life threatening points is more like it. Ya see on the Big Island's big, vast really. And if you are driving at night and happen to be running out of gas, your options are pretty limited. If you are driving very late at night, due to an earlier misread on how long it would take you to get from Kona to Volcanoes National Park and then back to Kona, and you need emergency fuel, it actually turns out that neither the just-closing gas station nor the nearby police station are willing to give you any (even for cash). And thus, you may end up nailbiting your way back to Hilo (in the opposite direction of where you wanted to go) hoping you don't end up stranded on the side of a dark road somewhere in the vastness that is the Big Island.

Alas, my friend Lydie and I did indeed make it to the gas station and then sped back to Kona, arriving at 2:30 a.m. amped on lots of coffee and soda so that we did not crash our way through the dimly lit road that takes you around the island (note: there is really only one main road that takes you around the island...thus it takes a very very long time).

Aside from this unsolicited fear-instilling component to the trip, I must say I left with a definite desire to return and concluded that the Big Island is the most visually interesting of all the islands. It has snow covered mountains, volcanoes, the most dense and lush vegetation of all the islands, beautiful rolling green hills (almost reminded me a bit of New Zealand in parts), tropical jungles, beautiful high cliff beaches, white sand, black sand, grey sand and green sand beaches and almost desert like terrain in certain areas. It's just insane. You drive for 6 hours and you've gone through what seems like every possible type of terrain. Actually reminds me a lot of New Zealand in that respect. Although, I think New Zealnd gas stations would've been open later.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

House of the Rising Sun

Ok honestly I'm beginning to find it pretty ridiculous that I live here for my dissertation research. Well actually not the "here" of the photo. This was in Maui at Haleakala (The house of the rising sun) national park last weekend for sunrise. With a 3:30am wakeup call, my french neighbor and I hit the road to reach the 10,000 mile up summit. Needless to say, Maui rocks. Definitely a fan. I've sorta declared February my birthday celebration month, partly cuz...why not? And partly cuz it's the month that Go airlines has great deals on interisland flights. And thus I will be off to the big island for the weekend later this month. Seriously ridiculous.

But in more academic news, I seem to be focusing in a little more on the dissertation and hopefully after a conference presentation this weekend and a final request for fellowship application reference letter headaches out of the way, will be solidly living in the archives from here on out (except for weekend surf breaks of course). Totally ridiculous...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Archive Madness

Ok, I don't mean to complain but seriously, I do not get some of this archive procedural crap! Two of my collections are pretty chill, they let me pull all sorts of things at a time, photograph them (no flash of course). But the State Archives are driving me a little batty. You can only pull one folder at a time (not one box, one folder!) and everything you pull has to be reviewed first and approved. And then when you leave at the end of the day, even if you are coming back, they don't hold your boxes for you. Nor do they even allow you to take your call slip with you, so you have to dig up what exactly it was that you pulled in the first place (I suppose smart people would be writing that down as they go, but we know I'm not that smart!) Uggh. Archives are such bizarre social experiments. I'm convinced they are also weather experiments. It is always about 30 degrees colder with a strong windchill factor in one of my archives...kinda reminds me of Michigan. I literally go in with a hat, mittens and a sweater.

The one good thing about the State archives (aside from the huge banyan trees outside the windows) is that sometimes (like today) you are literally researching in the midst of the history that you are studying. I walked out of the archives for lunch today and lucked upon a sovereignty rally within the same courtyard as the archives. I got to see rallying calls from most of the famous Hawaiian sovereignty activists whose books inspired me to study Hawaiian history in the first place! It was pretty fascinating.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Did!!!!

What an amazing day!!! I think this is the first time I've felt proud of the USA. What a bizarre feeling to actually admire the person who will be leading the country. After 8 years of having a president who caused a gag reflex every time I saw him; what an inspiring change. Yaaaaaay Obama!

Now if only California could respect the human rights of their residents....c'mon guys, grow the fuck up!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Happy Place

So I'm still trying to get settled into my apartment so that it feels a bit homier, and I don't continue to feel like a dissertating nomad. It's tough at the moment because I am couchless (waiting on a freebie from my landlord that has gotten delayed, as she's waiting on her new replacement). So there's still no real comfy place to relax in my apartment, but I've come to love my lanai, which I've filled with tropical plants, flowers and herbs to keep my company. It's my happy place. After three years of below zero winters in Michigan, I must say that I'm definitely taking full advantage of the ability to drink my coffee and read my paper outside; with the only deterrence from staying there all day is when it gets too sunny and I have to go find shade elsewhere...oh and that whole needing to collect materials at the archive thing. Doh!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

From 2000 Miles East of Cali to over 2000 Miles West...

...landing smack dab in the Pacific!

Yup, I've finally arrived and gotten almost completely settled into my new digs in Honolulu. The move has been pretty tiring and caused me to reflect on cumulative exhaustion from having gone through eight major moves in the past 12 years (La Jolla, Davis, Bay, Evanston, Bay, Eugene, Ann Arbor, Honolulu) and my growing craving to just be in one place indefinitely. That said, I can't complain about this latest locale. I've definitely noticed a strangely small town kind of friendliness here despite the fact that Honolulu is the 12th largest city in the country. And by small town caricature, I mean more a vibe of people seeming to have the time and willingness to talk to you and help when you tell them your new in town. It's seems way more laid back and a friendlier vibe just around town than most places I've been (with the exception of New Zealand, which also ranks right up there).

I will say though about moves, I've definitely learned (or relearned, cuz it seems I'd forgotten since the last move) that moves are always about three times as costly and take about three times as long as you expect. I think this move was particularly challenging because I showed up in Honolulu on my own and had to furnish my place on the third floor of this complex and my arms/wrists have been acting up again (for those of you who are familiar with my intermittent physical therapy fun, it's been coming back). Another major challenge is that Honolulu lacks many of the moving stores that I took for granted as a poor grad student on the continent (IKEA, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Linens and Things). I cringe admitting this, but I actually had to go to Walmart for some things that I just couldn't afford elsewhere. Ick. I feel like a complete traitor to the labor movement. Another hurdle was both Honolulu's traffic and lack of any sort of street grid system. The latter of which led to many hours of getting lost, circling around and ending up on one way streets in rush hour (which seems to be many hours of the day here). So it's been a busy busy couple of weeks.

I arrived 9 days ago, and finally got all furniture built today, all (but one) boxes unpacked, all emptied boxes to the garbage, all food and patio plants purchased, and almost all electronics set up (still got to hook up printers/monitors, etc). I've even begun a Hawaiian language class (attended two so far) and got signed up for Students for Obama today while walking through campus. I'm hoping to do a few different volunteer activities in between research to see if I can meet some people. It dawned on me a few days ago that I don't know anyone here and have no friends nearby and that...well...stinks. It's the nature of the beast I know; moving. And not having close friends nearby is certainly not something new (those of you who've heard me bitch and moan about that for the past three years). But I think with this move, it's particularly challenging because in every other move, I have arrived to some sort of structure that would offer an immediate cohort (with school) or set of colleagues (with work), and this is very different. Any folks I'll meet out here, I'm gonna have to seek out on my own. I have some ideas in mind of where to go and how to do it, and I think with another week or two to get settled (more cleaning and get into a groove with work) hopefully I can get out there and practice my social skills again. They've certainly been rusty for awhile.

Another move, another adventure. I'll get my camera up and going soon and put photos up once I get out and around. I gotta say, I totally lucked out on my apartment. My landlord rocks, she's charging me about 400-500 dollars under value because she doesn't believe in price gouging students. Crazy lucky I am. I think I'll bake her some cookies. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Summer Post...delinquent blogger returns!

I've once again been a delinquent blogger for about four months. No excuses. Just a lot of running around and transition these past few months, with more to come in the next few weeks.

Since last posting, I've moved away from Ann Arbor (defended my dissertation proposal before doing so), been hanging back in the Bay with the folks, took a short trip to Mexico with my Mom, a short trip to Hawaii to do research and look for fall housing, a short trip to Pasadena to present that research (with the fabulous company of Miss V) and am now back in the Bay gearing up for another big move in September.

I plan to be a better blogger once I get settled in Honolulu, and hopefully with a new camera (yet to be purchased) can illustrate my postings with some photos of the new digs.

Another thing I've been doing this month is watching lots of olympics and consequently have become (along with everyone else) a Phelps-fan!