Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Monster Escapes [just a little bit]

I'll start with the bad and move on to good. I snapped in Spanish tonight. I told myself beforehand that I would just take it for what it was, but what it turned out to be was crap & I changed my mind about taking it. I was planning on making a quick exit at break, but I was so angry I had to say something. So I let the teacher know that I wouldn't be coming back, that I would like a refund, and that her class was a complete waste of time.

It was more than I intended to say, but I was not being harsh. That was gentle. Melissa Mansfield is being fundamentally dishonest in collecting money to teach Spanish. Her accent is pure gringa, she mispronounces basic words, she doesn't prep for lessons, and instead of using the book she has us - a class full of forty and fifty year old professoinals - play Sesame Street games designed for ages three and up. I don't think she knows the language. When I asked why we weren't using the masculine and feminine participles when we spoke she said we'll cover that later. I like to think she saw the look in my eye then, because she stayed on the opposite side of the classroom after that. Hawaiian style is to stay quiet and keep the peace. Sometimes that passivity is exploited, and we've got to make some noise.

I'm not even pissed about the money [though I better get it back, in full]. It's that I have a life, and I gave things up to go to class. Now the homepage for Kaimukī Community School for Adults [733-6460] says No refunds will be issued once the 2nd class has begun. Which means I'll be entertaining the troops tomorrow with a very entertaining phone call to the DOE.

On to the good: I'm loving my organic tiki mixes! The orgeat is awesome - smooth, creamy, and with a rich almond taste. I love it with bourbon or rye. The falernum has a mysterious spicy undertone under all the lime that I'm still learning to work with. For the first time I understand the difference between a cocktail and a simple mixed drink. The grenadine is far better than the nasty cough syrup you get from Rose's. The spice-based liquors still need time to mellow; the anise and pimento are far too sharp still. And the orange Contro-type liqueuer was good, but tasted more of coffee and vanilla than orange. I liked it, but I want orange! I bought some organic blood oranges and added them to the liqueur. I'll strain again in a few weeks.

I still haven't figured out if I'll fly with them to North Carolina [checked, of course] or shell out the bucks to ship 'em.

Met a very cool guy this week: Tim from St. Louis. I
think we're looking at friendship more than romance, but I'm fine with that [well, mostly fine] - I've seriously enjoyed spending time with him. As a bonus he's also a world traveller, and has been to the places I've fantasized about. And I'm not talking Paris or anything obvious. I'm talking Wadi Rum.

We'll have dinner tomorrow. We've talked about making travel plans together in the future. And that's an easy one: hell yeah. I really do want to do Egypt [2 weeks] and Jordan [1 week], and I'd been thinking about working in a week in İstanbul, and possibly a week doing Carnival somewhere.
Those are flexible. I'll see what his fantasies are for 2007. It would be amazing if we found common ground. I'm pretty sure we will.

And by far the biggest surprise of the summer, if not the year: Rhenniken! And I'm not even going to try and put the accents on that. I was crossing Bishop Street after lunch, and I swear this Micronesian chick cruised me hard. She looked like a toughie too - hair pulled back in tight braids and baggie clothes. So I stared back, smiled, kept walking, and honestly I was kind of amazed that a Chuukese woman would be that brazen ... and ... something wasn't making sense ... and so I turned around mid street and I turned around right when she did AND SHE SCREAMED.

Dudes, it was my hanai sister from the Peace Corps. I used to look for Re Pááfeng when I moved here, but never met one. Or heard of any who had moved here. There are a fair amount of Chuukese here, but all from the Lagoon and the Mortlocks. Never any Re Fan - the traditional people from the Pááfeng, Weita, and Pattiw atolls.

And here she was, of all people, my sister, straight from Fananu. Now, here's the thing about the outer islanders of Chuuk - and maybe it's the thing about all traditional peoples. In context they are loud and funny and irreverent & basically all about pleasing the spirits [or at least not pissing them off too much] and having a good time.

But something happens to people when they enter late into the modern age. Part of their spirit seems to fade out; or rather, it curls up into something tight and hidden within. In the District Centers the outer island people become quiet and reserved; they become more watcher than participant. And in the cities of the West they disappear and fade into the margins. They are the people you only see if you choose to see them, the aborigine half-hidden in the shadows on the edge of town.

What they aren't, understand, is a woman dressed in her B-Boy best blocking traffic while she screams and hugs a haole boy in the middle of a downtown intersection.

I haven't spoken Fosun
Pááfeng in a dozen years. It'll be slow coming back. I got that Rhenniken and Gina [who was Gina? She spoke of 'our family' - so she must be related] were both unmarried [so what happened to Kannie her husband?], that Ipuan had died, that lots of typhoons have hit the island, and that a lot of Murilo people had moved in. Rhenniken worked in Alaskan fishing oats for a couple years and moved to Honolulu in 2002 or 2003.

There will be lots to catch up on. Not that I even understood all the family dynamics when I lived there.

We made plans for Saturday. The girls want to go to the North Shore, so I'll pick them up in my van and we'll make a day of it. I'll expect nothing but the unexpected. And turkey tails.

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