On my first trip to Hawaii, I noticed the tsunami sirens scattered about the island. I naively assumed they never got use, and was surprised when I found out they test them on the first of every month. But it turns out that being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has its risks, tsunamis being one of them.

I think our roommate was watching the news really late, because I’m sure I heard her get up at 2:10. I thought she was just taking the dog out to pee, but when Filippo’s parents called at 4AM, and I saw the hall light was still on, I wondered why she was still up. I heard Filippo say to his mother “Don’t worry, if there was a tsunami they would sound the sirens”. So I went back to sleep. Then at 4:45 Filippo’s sister called him, again asking him about a tsunami. Again he dismissed it.

I don’t know why I wasn’t alarmed by any of this. Apparently I really like sleeping, and the potential threat of death doesn’t bother me.

At 5:45, after falling back asleep again, my dad called. He was so calm about it.

“Did you hear there may be a tsunami coming your way?”

“We’ve been getting calls, but the sirens would have gone off if there was a threat.”

“Oh, well CNN just said they’re setting off the sirens at 6AM. There was an 8.8 earthquake in Chile.”

Then I got up. It took a little while to sink in. After I got off the phone with my dad, I turned on the TV. Sure enough, they were talking about the tsunami scheduled to arrive at 11AM.

Five hours is a good amount of time to prepare, so I didn’t really hurry while I listened to the news. They said pack warm clothes for a few days, so I packed up a suitcase. Realizing that we were actually going to be evacuated, I thought I should take a shower. I don’t like going 24 hours without a shower.

In the shower the adrenaline started to kick in. My thoughts went directly to the 2004 tsunami, and I assumed there was going to be destruction. I imagined the speech they would give at the orientation for my job:

“What a crucial time for you all to be joining Castle Medical Center, in the wake of a devastating tsunami. This natural disaster will require you to undergo a new training procedure, to handle the many victims and their families…”

I’m not sure if I was scared or excited! I knew we had plenty of time, so I didn’t fear for my own life. But I assumed some people would die. Or at least get hurt. We loaded the car up with valuables and necessities, and I headed up the hill and inland to our friends’ house, who were having us over for a BBQ today anyway.

I didn’t really feel scared until Filippo decided to drive separately, and leave after me. Our roommate needed a ride to her family’s house up the hill, and she didn’t want to leave too soon, for fear that “looters” might steal our “valuables”. I was irritated that she would put her stuff above our lives, and that she thought that we actually had “valuables” in the house. All there is here is a bunch of crap….

But that’s not the point. The point is that when Filippo and I had to say goodbye, I suddenly wondered if he might get stuck on the North Shore. What if they blocked the roads to the North Shore? What if the tsunami washed out the roads? (Remember, in my head, the tsunami is going to be huge. 8.8 is a big earthquake)

So I hugged Filippo tight, told him to be careful, wear his seatbelt, and leave as soon as possible. That was the scariest moment.

The warnings were for nothing after all, thank goodness. Well, I really do wish there had been something to prove there was a tsunami warning…some kind of damage that I could photograph. Now all I have is a memory of spending the whole day with our friends, who fed us an amazing breakfast and lunch, and distracted Filippo with video games. I guess that’s pretty great too.

The weekend in photos

February 22, 2010

I made sure to carry around the camera this weekend, and got some great shots. It’s easy to take good pictures when you live in paradise. I’m constantly reminded of how lucky I am!

Saturday night's sunset drive

More tree and sunset beauty

I was blessed by a bag full of plumerias

So I got crafty and decided to make a lei!

It came out quite nicely, if I may say so myself

On Sunday we went to a beach party, where Filippo donned some goofy shorts and went kayacking

Filippo hacked away at a coconut so we could eat the meat, and it was good

The boys did handstands

while we enjoyed the sunset

and pondered the heavens

The simple life is the good life.

Expectations of Excellence

February 21, 2010

I passed my driver’s license test…100%!

Who's a resident of Hawaii? That's right, I am.

They confiscated my California driver’s license when they gave me this one, and at first I was disappointed…but then I realized that it expires in April anyway. And now I get a license with a rainbow on it! Plus, it’s one step closer to getting residency for school.

I’m feeling more and more secure about my nursing school plan. As I was falling asleep last night I thought about how my expectations for myself have changed over the years. When I was in junior high/high school, and even before that, I always expected a lot. I was smart, my friends were smart, and I remember feeling like was wasn’t bad at anything. I did well at sports, music, school…and while it was a lot of pressure sometimes, I always felt that I did my best when I was busiest. Then in my Sophomore year of high school I got a part in the school musical, 42nd Street. It required going to after-school rehearsal several times a week, and I after complaining about it for a while, I realized I could just quit. There was time to find a replacement, so I told the director that I was quitting. That was shortly after I didn’t make the volleyball team for the first time. Then basketball season came around, and I didn’t even try out. I started to realize that I didn’t have to expect so much from myself. If the majority of other people can be mediocre, why not me?

Thinking back, I really regret those high school decisions. I regret a lot of high school decisions. They bled into my life after high school; I went to a school that didn’t challenge me,  I chose a major that didn’t challenge me, and I continued to expect less of myself. I always got A’s in school and held part-time jobs, but I didn’t have any exciting ambitions. My first full-time job was challenging, and I think that’s when I started to remember how good it feels to excel.

So last night, as I was falling asleep, I thought about how I want to be amazing. I don’t want to find just any career and be a good employee, I want to find a career where I can really excel. I want to be excellent, and I want other people to recognize that excellence in me. I think I can find that in nursing. I’m glad that nursing is challenging, because I want to be constantly challenged, so that I can constantly prove myself. I don’t want to ever forget how amazing I am , and from now on I want to set myself up for success…not just success, but excellence.

Vacation time

February 19, 2010

As I’ve mentioned, now that I have a job coming, I feel I can indulge in a vacationer’s attitude. Today has been an excellent example of that attitude.

I awoke at 9:30 AM, and didn’t get up till 10, when I casually made some coffee and toast. I have no idea what I did after that, but by noon I was picking up my shoes from the shoe repair place (they stretched out some too-small shoes, and they fit perfectly now!). Then on to the library for book happiness. I got a practice guide for the nursing school entrance exam, a Suze Orman book, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Should be good fun.

From there we decided to try out a new place for lunch: Cafe Haleiwa

The food was good. Nothing too special, but good. Filippo had fish tacos, I had a grilled veggie sandwich.

The best part was their patio:

I just love the random colored chairs. They also have lights strung up between the trees that you can’t really see in the pic, but they were cool.

But even better were their glasses:

I asked where they came from, and our waitress (who must be an owner) said that she goes down to second hand stores once or twice a month to find them. They’re just so awesome, I feel a strong urge to second hand shop.

I’m also studying to take the Hawaii Driver’s License test, since my CA one expires in April, and I need residency to start school. The manual hasn’t been re-done since 1977, so the pictures are all outdated. It’s kind of entertaining. I think I’ll take the test on Monday…and then go to some second hand store to find cool glasses…

My first hospital job!

February 17, 2010

I need a phrase that expresses the opposite of  “when it rains, it pours”, because what I need to say is that when the good starts coming, it keeps on coming!

Today I got the official offer of employment from Castle Medical Center. They stuck me with a TB test, stabbed me in both arms to suck out my blood, and took my urine in a cup…and I  loved every minute of it. They’re trying to line me up for a March 8th orientation, but I think that I could be done with all of my pre-employment stuff in time for the February 26th orientation, so I’m rushing myself.

The position is per-diem, which  I believe I mentioned in a previous post, and means that I won’t have a set schedule, but will be able to pick up any extra shifts that might become available. So if someone goes on vacation, I’ll cover, and if there’s a special project I’ll be the one to do it, or if someone wants a day off, they can ask me to cover for them. The hourly pay is higher than if I was full-time, because I don’t get benefits, but I don’t mind for now. Hopefully I can move into a benefited position soon enough. They also let me know that a part-time position should be opening up soon, and that as an employee I will be able to snatch that up to get some set hours, in addition to any per-diem hours I take.

It’s really a perfect situation for me, especially since I’m planning on starting school again soon. It allows me flexibility to go on vacations also, since I’ll essentially be able to set my own schedule.

Look how pretty it is 🙂

There is a wellness center at the hospital that offers all kinds of classes, many of which are free for employees. I’m particularly interested in the exercise classes and cooking classes! I love a good free resource. They even have a Career Development department, to help you explore your career options with the hospital.

The Hawaiian adventure is starting to seem more permanent now! We both have perfect jobs that will allow us time to go to school, we have cars, we have each other, and we have beautiful Hawaii as a setting. I couldn’t possibly ask for more.

Cooking is fun

February 15, 2010

I know I already posted about valentine’s day yesterday, but the second half of the day was so amazing I need to post again.

We had our friends Rosy and Dustin over for dinner, and had so much fun cooking and setting up our cute little table by the beach. And as if that wasn’t enough goodness, the food turned out AMAZING.

Mushroom stuffed chicken with a mushroom cream sauce, mashed potatoes and strawberry salad

I mean, I didn’t know we could all cook so well. The thing I was least confident about was the mushroom stuffing, but wow. It blew my mind. We didn’t know when we planned the menu, but Dustin is a mushroom fanatic, and scarfed down his plate in no time at all.

Filippo took a little video of us starting our meal, with the goal of making everyone on facebook jealous. And since his motives weren’t pure, the memory card ran out in the middle of it. I was going to post it here, but I’m having difficulties. So check facebook 🙂

Dinner was REALLY filling, so we took a little walk on the beach while we digested and made room for dessert. And what luck, turtles were on the sand!

Turtle Buddies!

What a hooligan 🙂

When we got back it was time for red velvet cake! I’m so glad I had Rosy to help me with the cake, because I’ve never made one before. It turned out great!


All in all, it was a perfect night. I can say without a doubt that it was the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had. We closed out the night with Dustin playing the guitar and singing (what talent!), and went to bed with full bellies and happy hearts.

Last bit of sunset

The view from our table

Dustin & Rosy

I like cake

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2010

What a great week! My interview with Castle Medical Center went really well. They still need to do my reference check, but everyone I listed as a reference loves me, so I’m sure that will only work in my favor. Hopefully I get an offer!

In anticipation of having to drive to town every day, we went to see a friend of a friend, called “one man”, who is the sales manager at a car dealership in Waipahu. We’d called him ahead of time, and told us he had a 2000 ford focus for $2000 out the door. It’s a bit older than I was originally planning, and it has some cosmetic issues (scratched bumper, faded inside console), but it drives really well, and we got it for a third of the blue book price. And it’s red, so it’s like a valentine’s day car :). It feels good to have wheels I can trust.

Valentine’s day is off to a good start. Filippo bought me a beautiful hanging candle we had been admiring in Haleiwa, and he got it engraved with a heart and our initials (how cute!).

What a sweetheart 🙂

We’d been looking for something to hang from the hook over our bed! It’s a bit low though… I’ve already hit my head twice.

As you may have guessed, the hearts were put up just for the day

I woke Filippo up to breakfast in bed and some home made chocolate truffles. I’ll probably eat more of the truffles than he will.

Tonight we’re having a couple of friends over for a beach-side sunset dinner, which ought to be quite cute. I picked up fresh prawns at the farmers market yesterday, which we’re going to cook whole in a garlic, butter and white wine sauce. I learned at Christmas dinner this year that the best part about whole prawns is sucking the juices out of the head. The thought of it is disgusting until you’ve tried it, and then it’s just heaven.

Our friends are bringing a salad with strawberries, and then I’m making chicken thighs pounded and stuffed with a mushroom stuffing, with a mushroom cream sauce. And the best part, for dessert, we’re having homemade red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

Next week I’ll have to make it to yoga every single day to work off tonight’s dinner, but I think it’ll be worth it.

Since its been a while, and I have my memory card in my computer for once, here’s some of this week’s photos:

This is why we needed a newer car

The drive home from Castle Medical Center, up the windward side of the island

The drive home from Castle Medical Center, up the windward side of the island

Last night's sunset

Last night's sunset

The Clouds Have Parted!

February 11, 2010

I know I’m the biggest baby on earth for having ever thought that my life was hard. I live in Hawaii on the beach with one of the most wonderful people I know, and I haven’t had to work since November. But it was just so hard to appreciate all of the good when I had the fear of permanent unemployment looming over me! But thankfully, this week, the clouds have truly parted, and the sun is shining through!

First, Filippo got the call from Luibueno’s, the new restaurant opening here in Haleiwa, that they did select him for a server position. Hooray! I knew they would hire him because he’s perfect for the position, but it has been months now since he first applied, so it’s been a stressful waiting game.

After he got the call, we had to drive to Backpackers to tell everybody (his friends are staying at the hostel down the street), and as we were coming around Waimea Bay and the sun was shining, I asked Filippo “Are the clouds parting? Are the dark and dreary days over?” Of course he has always had a better attitude than I have, so he reminded me that there never were any dark and dreary days. In that moment I felt a surge of hope that maybe all the hours of searching and applying and interviewing would finally start to pay off.

And I was right! On Friday I got an email from the Recruiter at Hawaii Pacific Health, a company I had interviewed with before, but had unfortunately not selected me for a Patient Service Representative position. Annie, the Recruiter, had sent me a flyer stating that a number of positions are open in the Revenue Cycle Department for Office Clerk. The positions are temporary, but a full-time, ten-week assignment sounds great to me!

On Monday I got called for an interview, which I scheduled for today (Wednesday) after an information session for the Nursing Program at Kapi’olani Community College. When I got to the interview, they had me take a very simple computer skills assessment, and then brought me in to interview with two members of the Revenue Cycle Department. They told me the details of the job, asked me about my experience, and then left me sitting there as they had a little discussion about me. When they came back they asked me what my goals were in the position, and I honestly told them that I was hoping to get my foot in the door, so that I could grow into higher-paying positions in the company, and that I was considering pursuing nursing within the next couple of years.

Apparently, that was what they wanted to hear! As one of them walked me to the Human Resources Department, he told me that his only hesitancy about hiring me was that I seem to be a people person, and good with patients, and this position is not people-oriented at all. Had I not just wanted that foot in the door of the company, he wouldn’t have selected me.

So, lucky me! Beginning March 8th, I get to work full-time. They haven’t decided on a location for us yet, but said they are considering the Harbor Court building, which is a gorgeous building downtown that I would LOVE to work in.

As great as this all is, it gets even better.

While I was waiting to go into the interview, I got a call from the Recruiter at Castle Medical Center, the Adventist Health facility here on Oahu. I had applied for an Admitter position, and she wanted to see me for an interview! So tomorrow at 3 I have another interview! Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll have to fight over me 🙂 Life is good.

I haven’t really been inspired to write anything this week. Probably the most significant aspect of my week is that I’m starting to have a change of attitude regarding the whole job search, and my entire plan for my life. I have been feeling like there must be a reason that I’m getting so much resistance in job searching and whatnot. I started to question everything, wondering if maybe my whole plan for the way things were supposed to go here in Hawaii was faulty. I started to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t have moved here, or maybe I’m choosing the wrong career path, or maybe I have the wrong plans for schooling…lots of confusion in my head.

So I took some steps to try to figure it out. I observed two speech pathologists in Honolulu, to get a feel for the career I had blindly been considering. I was able to observe some amazing cases, but strangely I couldn’t really see myself sitting in the Speech Pathologist’s chair. The women I observed were working with children with developmental disabilities mostly, and it became clear that this field requires a LOT of patience. The progress was slow, and with some of them it seemed like they might never reach a level of normal communication. I’m used to working with medicine that has quick results, and I like being able to give good news and provide solutions. Being a Speech Pathologist would require celebrating small victories, knowing that you might never reach the finish line with some individuals. I feel selfish and immature letting this challenge cause me to question my decision to pursue Speech Pathology, but I just can’t start down a path that I’m not 100% sure about. Maybe I do have the patience and temperament for the job, but  just imagined myself being frustrated with the job.

I haven’t completely written off the idea, but I’ve decided to consider other options as well. I’m feeling particularly intrigued by going to nursing school. I believe there are only three or four prerequisite classes I would need to take, and it seems like it’s easier to get into nursing school here than in California. I’m planning to speak with an advisor about it this week or next. The amount of time in school would be about the same as for Speech Pathology, and they make about the same amount of money. After becoming an RN, you can also go to grad school to focus on a specialty, or to become a NP, or even do anesthesia. So there are lots of options. We’ll see how it goes.

So besides my career/school crisis (which was really quite peaceful), we did some fun stuff this week. We went downtown on Tuesday for a concert in celebration of Mozart’s birthday, and we stopped by a couple galleries here in Haleiwa for Art Walk last night. We also had dinner and good conversation at a friend’s house on Thursday, and two nights of yoga. Oh, and I signed up for volunteer Docent training at the Bishop Museum downtown. It’s four hours of training once a week for two months, but it sounds really interesting to me, so I’m excited for that.

To sum up, here’s a couple of quotes from one of the books I’m reading, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.

“One thing we do know: Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”

“Whenever tragic loss occurs, you either resist or you yield. Some people become bitter or deeply resentful; others become compassionate, wise, and loving. Yielding means inner acceptance of what is. You are open to life. Resistance is an inner contraction, a hardening of the shell of the ego. You are closed. Whatever action you take in a state of inner resistance (which we could also call negativity) will create more outer resistance, and the universe will not be on your side; life will not be helpful. If the shutters are closed, the sunlight cannot come in. When you yield internally, when you surrender, a new dimension of consciousness opens up. If  action is possible or necessary, your action will be in alignment with the whole and supported by creative intelligence. . . Circumstances and people then become helpful, cooperative. Coincidences happen. If no action is possible, you rest in the peace and inner stillness that come with surrender. You rest in God. “

Beautiful Ceiling at the Mozart Concert