Monday, December 17, 2012

Post Secret Sunday: Happiness in Unlikely Places

People who work in service-related industries can be all shades of awesome. Despite earning minimum wage, working different shifts, and dealing with the occasional demanding/horrible customer, I've found servers to be some of the kindest, most hardworking, and cheerful people ever. Thoughtful, too.

Here's to my favourite waitstaff and baristas, who not only work really hard to earn a living, but also bring joy to the people they encounter. Linda, thank you for preparing my pancakes smily face-style during finals; you never fail to make me smile during stressful times. Joe, thank you for humming "Sweet Leilani" as you make my latte, and for constantly applying to be my gay boyfriend. Mei, thank you for always leaving a pitcher of iced water on my table, knowing how much I love water. You are all amazing, and a billion shades of wonderful.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Best friends make this crazy, hectic life more beautiful and worthwhile

We don't get a chance to see each other as much as we'd like, but that just makes the times that we do all the more precious. We've been through a lot together, J and I, and I can't wait for a lifetime more of memories. Here's to BFFs; best friends are the sisters and brothers we chose. I love you, J!

L-R: W, J, and a meatball

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sleep(less) in New England

These past few days I've had a triumphant and joyful reunion with an old friend, sleep. For the first time in a very long time, I was able to ignore my internal alarm clock's insistence to wake up *now* and instead burrow deeper into my warm comforter. Of course, "sleeping in" means waking up at 7 instead of 5 during the weekdays and at 8 or 9 during the weekend. But still. Sleep is sleep, and it is such a simple yet beautiful treasure.

I got all As in my classes and averaged about a 99% in all coursework. Although I'm proud of my grades, there's a little part of me that's a little bit disappointed in myself. I did work very hard, but was definitely not 100% charged. Optimum performance, it was not. My professors were absolutely brilliant and they deserved a 100% performance, nothing less. Two of my professors, Drs. JS and MM, were some of the best, and that is saying a lot because I've had some phenomenal professors in undergrad that to this day, I rave about and recommend people take classes from.

In both Dr. JS's and Dr. MM's classes, we studied about inequity and privilege and reflected upon their impact on personal, communal, and societal levels. As a woman of colour, I am well aware of inequities and disadvantages that stem from the -isms, chiefly among them sexism and racism. Representations of my races, ethnicities, and cultures will always be skewed or underrepresented. Young women of colour unarguably do not hold the most power in society; middle-aged White men traditionally do.

However, being a woman does come with privileges that men do not. One, in particular, remains very powerful and prevalent in society. I hesitate to use the word "privilege" because in this instance, the aforementioned privilege is something no person would like to have bestowed upon them. In cases of rape or domestic violence, even though women are for the most part believed and aren't blamed, the existence of both is accepted. Men who are victims/survivors of rape and domestic violence are often met with disbelief. "How can a woman rape a man? How can a man be a victim of domestic violence?" Societal belief is that because men are the physically stronger sex, they could easily overpower and/or avoid being victims of violence done by women. "Not a real man" or "sissy" are often the reactions people have when hearing about a man who was raped by a woman at gunpoint or beaten up by their girlfriend. It is a widely held belief that "real" mean fight back, and failing to do so is an incomprehensible concept to most people. In that regard, I suppose that men do not have the privilege of having their victimhood validated as easily as women do.

I am humbled and grateful to have had Drs. JS and MM as professors. Their classes have definitely made me examine privilege through more than just the lenses I have become accustomed with. They have challenged me to become not just a better scholar, but a kinder and better human being as well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Post Secret Sunday: Horizon

Regret is in the things I didn't do and in the words I didn't say. He was, and still is, it for me. "It," meaning The One; the man whose name is always at the tip of my tongue and whose voice is the quiet song that plays softly inside my heart. The man whose touch is imprinted upon my skin, and whose kindness touched my soul. The man whose presence makes even the scariest and most unfamiliar of places home.

Adele, the singer, has one of those rare voices that hits at the core. The emotions and truth with which she sings is bittersweet; her voice is at once beautiful and painful. "Someone Like You" captures one of my greatest fears. It hasn't happened yet, but given that Horizon is a great man, it is not too much of a stretch that he will find someone else. I'm torn between fighting for him abd letting him heal so that one day he can find the happiness that I was unable and unwilling to give to him. And so for now, for always, here's the truth laid out bare: he is it, and I don't want someone like him. I just want him. 


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Post Secret Sunday: Enough

This is singularly the most important lesson I've had to learn, and the closest thing to the "Key to Happiness" I've discovered.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Post Secret Sunday: Surviving

It's a strange thing about surviving: guilt. It doesn't matter if you're a survivor of genocide, war, conflict, rape, natural disaster,'s going to be there. Guilt. Why did I survive when so many did not? Why did I not fight back? Why me, not them?

Sometimes surviving can be ugly. There are nightmares you can't quite wake up from, and scars that time can't quite heal. There's anger and rage, and a palpable grief. There's a loss that can never be replaced. You can never go back, never be the same. Sometimes you walk through pathways littered with stolen innocence, broken dreams and taunting vestige of what should be. 

Whether we persevere or merely endure as survivors, the most important thing to remember is that we are still here, and there is a reason for it. The narrative of our lives have meaning, and by examining our stories and listening to our own voices, we empower ourselves to give a purpose to our lives. 

We are still here. Our presence means we've won.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

365/30 Lists: October, Day 18

Favourite Sayings or Quotes:


"We must never permit the voice of humanity within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him truly a Man." 

(Albert Schweitzer)

"I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to wchich he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest." 

(W. Somerset Maugham)

“When I say, “I love you,” it’s not because I want you or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are.” 

(Spike, BtVS)

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”

 (AmerIndian Proverb)


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

365/30 Lists: October, Day 10

Favourite Films:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

365/30 Lists: October, Day 2

Who would you want to be stuck in a lift with?


1. Prince Hector of Troy, from the "Iliad," one of the most badass warriors in antiquity.

2.  Paulo Freire and Maxine Greene, educators.

3. Viktor Frankl, writer.

4.  Albert Schweitzer, theologian and philosopher.

5. Mevlana Rumi, Sufist.

6.  Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer.

7. Maria Callas, opera diva who sang the most heartbreaking rendition of "In Questa Reggia," an aria from Puccini's "Turandot."

8. My da, because it was from him I discovered the magic of the seven people above. 

Yes, it'd have to be a huge lift!  



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Open Letter to Filofax, SlamPR and Helena Bloomer


Aloha Kakou!

     My name is Leilani—Lilo for short—and I am a third generation Filofax user. You can count my foster cat Kedikofte as a fourth generation Filofax user, because when he’s placed into a permanent and loving home, he’ll come with a fat grape Domino Filofax that comes loaded with information about his diet and food preference (he hates fish, go figure), medical records, dental records, personality traits and odd behaviours (hissing in anger when you play Rihanna’s music).

            Contrary to the results of your survey, I do not primarily use a Filofax because I like to write notes. If that were the case, then all flat surfaces within my reach would be decorated with my cheesetastic musings. You see, I’m on a James Franco-y intellectual masochism quest: finish my 2-year graduate program within a year. Add in volunteer work, literacy advocacy, Native rights and language revitalization activism and independent honour crimes research and then SPLAT! That’s the sound of Google Calendar collapsing without the help of my trusty 4-year planner/Month on 1 Page with Notes/Week on 2 Pages/ 2 Pages Per Day powerhouse combo sandwiched inside a personal-sized red Topaz. Unlike my SmartPhone, whose usefulness can be as erratic as Amanda Bynes’s driving, I only need to flip through my Filofax (ooops…sorry…I meant to say Filofax organizer) to access whatever information I need.

            On a personal note, I primarily use a Filofax instead of another brand of organizer because it’s what my late da used. At the risk of sounding even more of a sentimental meatball, I carry my da in my Filofax just as he carried me in his. An emotional attachment is the strongest, most lasting kind of attachment to a brand. Filofax is, to use Saatchi and Saatchi’s term, my love mark.

            Today’s economy is as unreliable as the completion of the Big Dig in Boston, so it is understandable that you’d want to pursue other strategies to strengthen the company. However, SlamPR’s decision to “re-invent” the brand is misguided at best and offensive at most. By pursuing the fashion world like Katie Price/Jordan pursues oompa loompa orange skin, you are abandoning your core client base. It’s pretty much the same as a Midlife crisis afflicted-husband (Filofax) abandoning his wife of 20 years (Philofaxers)—the one who raised his kids (Filofaxes…ooops….ORGANIZERS) and had to make do with a meager income (crappy inserts)—for the younger, ditzy woman (yep, that would be, like, oh my gawd, fashion bloggers).

            Look, the divorce papers haven’t been signed yet; there’s a chance for reconciliation. I respectfully urge you to please contact us—anyone of us—and engage in a genuine dialogue. Listen to us; we’ll listen to you.

Mahalo Nui Loa

Below is another Open Letter penned by David Popely.

Dear Ms Bloomer

This letter is a response to the interview recently conducted with you by FeaturesExec Media Bulletin, and is being posted simultaneously (more or less) on a number of blogging sites in the UK, the US and beyond.

What binds us together as bloggers is that we are all members of an international community and website devoted to all things Filofax, and are all passionate about personal organisation, and the Filofax brand in particular. We have read, as a community, and with increasing disbelief, your comments concerning the Filofax brand, and this is our response.

We note from your comments that, as a result of a ‘usage and attitudes study’ you have conducted, you have been led to the conclusion that the distinguishing features of Filofax users are that we ‘like to write notes’, and that we are ‘very interested in fashion/stylish accessories’. We can assure you this is not the case in either respect, and that we find being pigeon-holed in this way to be demeaning and insulting in a way you most probably cannot understand. We are a community whose passions are for good organisation and a flexible, functional system to underpin that organisation. Some of us, perhaps a minority, have considerations of fashion, but all of us care that our systems of personal organisation assist us in the lives we live and the tasks we undertake.

In short, if all we wanted to do was to ‘write notes’, it is highly unlikely we would invest in relatively expensive binders, refills and systems such as your client provides. We wonder just who you have asked to participate in your ‘usage and attitudes study’. Whoever they are, we can assure you they are unrepresentative of your client’s core customer base, many of whom have been loyal customers for over twenty years and now feel ignored by your client.

We want to suggest to you that the direction you are taking your client in is ultimately going to prove fundamentally damaging to their business. The fashion ‘business’ is notoriously fickle and fast-changing, and you seem to have convinced your client that ignoring and alienating their loyal core customer base will bring dividends in terms of a new, fashion-conscious, high-spending corpus. We want to suggest to you, and by extension to Filofax themselves, that when the fashion ‘carousel moves on, your client will be left neither their newly promised client base, nor the client base you have led them to abandon.  Do you really think this is smart business advice?
You say in your interview that you consider your brief with Filofax to ‘make (your client) fashionable again’. We would suggest to you that your client’s products, if they were ever ‘fashionable’ at all, were so because they fulfilled a function and a need which was perceived to be important to their customers. We now have growing evidence of a lowering of standards of manufacture in Filofax binders, of poor paper quality in refills, and of a lack of willingness to listen to your customers’ opinions. Several of our members, on voicing opinions similar to these, have been invited by Filofax (or whoever runs their Twitter feed) to communicate those opinions directly to your client. This has been done, and no further comment or reaction from your client has been forthcoming. We would like to know whether this is really the kind of public relations you wish for your clients? Or are you merely concerned with putting fashionable, well-heeled ‘bottoms on seats’ at London, New York and other Fashion Weeks with the aid of free give-aways of ranges of binders priced beyond the reach of the average core Filofax user and similarly poorly manufactured? We would suggest that your ‘fashion focused press office’ would be better employed communicating with the loyal, core customer base of your client, the majority of whom, it now seems, are on the point of abandoning your client’s brand in favour of providers who will listen.

We write as concerned individuals and not as representatives of the community to which we belong. However, it is worth noting that many of us have a very high annual spend on Filofax and related products, and we suggest that Filofax is in danger of sacrificing this loyal customer spend in exchange for something far less reliable in the long term.
In conclusion, we have every confidence that these opinions will be ignored as ‘unfashionable’ by your ‘attitude studies’ and ‘fashion focused’ executives. However, we care enough about the Filofax brand to communicate these opinions plainly to you, and to hope that Filofax will one day return to the business in which it flourished for over seventy years, of providing highly functional, attractive but reasonably priced, personal organisation systems to those who need them, which is an increasing number of people in the societies in which we live.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chasing Time


I've just begun my Ed.M program and  I can already feel IT.

Restlessness. Wanderlust.


I'm always chasing time. Chasing time to the edge of nowhere and everywhere.

Is it because I'm a cancer survivor and carry this not-quite-irrational fear that there can never be enough time? My intellectual side rationalizes time as man's greatest invention. My human side whispers, "Run, run, run. Live your life. Do it all at once and chase time."

Maybe I'm meant to keep running and chasing time. To hold time's tenuous threads of memories as time itself soars in the sky. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ni ngai'an nahong un linguahe

Hafa adai! Hafa tatatmanu hao? Na'an-hu si Leilani, taotao O'ahu yo.

As the title of the post says, "One language isn't enough,"  and so I've challenged myself to learn Chamorro in the next few months, possibly years. My goal isn't fluency, but rather to be a part in its revitalization. I've chosen to learn Chamorro for many reasons. On a personal level, three of my cousins on my da's side are Chamorro, so I do feel a personal stake in its survival and revitalization. This is my cousins' culture and language, and I would like for them to live in a world where they can hear their Mother Tongue being spoken freely and abundantly, instead of hearing about their Mother Tongue in academic and linguistics circles as an extinct language from the Marianas islands. Language is such a visceral part of culture and by extension, oneself. So first and foremost, my goal of learning Chamorro is my cousins' cultural and linguistic survival, so that their people and language will always be "here" instead of "was here."

Intellectually, I am fascinated by the Chamorro language. Modern Chamorro shares a lot of loan words with Spanish. Ancient Chamorro is also very similar to the indigenous languages of the Philippines before they were colonized by the Spaniards. As I began reading and listening to the Chamorro language, I was awashed by a sense of familiarity and kinship. It felt like I knew the language intuitively, from the depths of of my soul.

So here begins my journey to Chamorro language learning. I look forward to doing my part in ensuring that my cousins' language will not be relegated as an ancient linguistic relic in the annals of history.

Biba Chamorro!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Post Secret Sunday: Viet Nam


Plato once said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” and though that sentiment is crude, it’s also accurate. It’s always been “us” versus “them,” and “right” versus “wrong.” Since the dawn of time, society has engaged in two monologues with guns, bombs, and swords as a microphone. It seems like the only thing that we could all agree on is that red is the colour of our blood. (And even then, there are people who die and kill for the notion of “blood purity.” But I digress; that topic’s for another day.)

Long before I was born, my da fought in Viet Nam. Two tours. Two different men. The man I knew (know) as my da is not the same boy everyone else knew. My da, Ronald, hated fireworks with a passion and disliked the colour red. Ronnie, the little boy, adored watching fireworks displays over the water. Ronald almost broke my momma’s neck when she once quietly crept up to him when he was sleeping. Ronnie was a notoriously hard-to-wake-up kid who slept through a hurricane. Ronald was a guarded man whose trust had to be earned, and even then, had to be continuously earned. Little Ronnie befriended everyone and anyone, and believed that humans are inherently good.

Of course, almost everything I’ve heard about little Ronnie came from those who were there. My da, the man, only spoke about Viet Nam as a part of America’s history. Despite him being a polyglot, da couldn’t form the words to claim Viet Nam as his own history, because then he’d have given a name to a nightmare that he spent a lifetime trying to wake up from. Ronald, the man, wanted to forget.

I see a glimpse of my da in every young soldier I meet, and each time I see the emptiness reflected in their eyes, a little part of me becomes half-orphaned all over again.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Post Secret Sunday: Living and Loving Life

This reminds me of something a friend's mother wrote to me. It was written in Turkish, so the translation may lose a little bit of meaning, but she pretty much said:  "Life writes wonderful letters to those who read it with love and kindness." It's been about 3 years now, and her letter is tucked away inside some box hidden somewhere in the house, but I have never forgotten her words. So simple, yet so full of wisdom. It's the kind of lesson you learn by living life...embracing it, accepting it, loving it.

So live live live.

Love love love.

The Life You Deserve

Among the many mental nuggets of my da's that has stayed with me was his assertion that people have the life they deserve at thirty. Although I'm not yet thirty, I am admittedly closer to it than twenty, and I find myself ruminating on my da's words more and more.

My life now is drastically different from the one that my family planned out for me, and if I were to be completely honest, it is not exactly the one I had envisioned for myself. For starters, I am not an ambitious shark of a corporate lawyer whose primary goal within the next ten years is to slowly ease into politics. I am not the doting momma of a chubby toddler (cared for by my momma while I am at work) or the loving wife of my first love, who is an equally ambitious businessman, lawyer or doctor. There was no bi-continental wedding written about in society pages. I didn't get to re-wear the self-designed ball gown I wore when I became a debutante. I didn't borrow my momma's wedding veil, or have my da walk me down the aisle. There is no house on a cliff that overlooks the sea, or a minivan littered with sippy cups and Animal Crackers. There is no Barney and Friends DVD permanently residing inside my DVD player. My parents won't ever get to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary surrounded by a houseful of grandkids and great-grandkids. So many things didn't happen, so many plans didn't pan out. Time passed, self-imposed deadlines came and went, and the life I thought I would one day have--the one I worked so hard for--will remain someone else's, never mine.

I spent my late teens to early twenties meandering through a hazy fog of loss. Loss of my da. Loss of my innocence. Loss of certainty, security, familiarity. They say bad things come in threes, and in threes they indeed came. 1, 2, 3: the pillars of my life slowly crumbled to the ground, and my world crashed. It was an Age of Darkness. I was lost, searching and waiting for Hector amid the ruins of my world.

Mid-twenties were spent rebuilding and (re) discovering. An Age of  Hope. Awareness.  I decided to withdraw my acceptance into law school and started being more involved in human rights advocacy. Worked with immigrants and refugees. Became more active with language and cultural revitalization of Native Peoples. Became involved with helping survivors of gender-based crimes (re)gain their sense of self-worth. In helping survivors heal, I somehow began my process of healing as well.

And now here I am, in my late twenties, finding Andromache and keenly aware I had saved myself. Still wandering, though not lost. I've found a place of my own in this vast world.

I think my da would be happy and proud to know that when I turn thirty in the future, I will have already lived the life I deserved and needed.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Quote of the Week


“This sky where we live is no place to lose your wings so love, love, love.”

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Quote of the Week


All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

"You owe me."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Quote of the Week


“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Quote of the Week


“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Quote of the Week


“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.”


We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl