IMR: Entries: 2003: February: 04 — Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Last Stretch

My last day at my current job is next Friday. I'm breaking up with the office on Valentine's Day.

Things are understandably getting pretty wacky, as both my coworkers and I struggle to do our everyday duties while at the same time trying to sort out how things will work after I'm gone. Yesterday I got the inevitable and flattering request to stay on a little longer, but wisely offered instead transition services under a freelancing arrangement (similar to what followed after other staffers departed for greener pastures). Today I got up the nerve to say that recent decisions to push back deadlines would neccessarily mean I wouldn't be able to close certain projects before I left.

Someone jokingly asked if my new boss would let me take off a week in May to help with our annual meeting in Seoul, currently the primary focus of our office. At least I hope they were joking.

Believe it or not, one of the things that I still hope to accomplish before the end of next week is a complete redesign and restructuring of the website I've maintained for the past four years. It would only be fitting that a website overhaul is both the first and last tasks I accomplish with the organization. The new site, finally, will bring in a content-management system that should allow anyone in the office to add pages and make edits if needed.

As I hand off duties, I'm becoming especially conscious of the little things I do, the things I've come to take for granted that I've never had to explain before. It both tickles me to realize how much, after all, I've absorbed, and embarrasses me to see the little things I've come to accept and work around that a little common sense and time could have changed for the better.

I wrote out how to reset the alarm on the server's UPS, for example, since it tends to go off for no reason every other week or so. I've never been entirely conviced it works, either. To me it was just a fact of life. Now I'm wondering, "Why didn't I get it fixed or replaced?"

To be sure, not having a budget (until, fittingly, last week) guided many decisions.

I'm also thinking a lot about the things I'll miss, most recently all the places to eat downtown and all the cool people to eat with. My new office will most likely be in an unmarked building near the airport, an area that's not exactly a hotbed of tasty or at least affordable eats. This week and next I'm thinking I might finally and get in touch with all those people who said, "Let's do lunch."

This past weekend was busy, but productive.

The news of the Columbia disaster dampend the mood, to be sure. When Jen came into the bedroom to tell me what had happened, it felt exactly like another morning not too long ago.

Memories of the Challenger explosion soon became as clear as if it had been yesterday. I remembered my elementary school classroom, the television, the local pride over crewmember Ellison Onizuka and all teachers' pride over Christa McAuliff. While by then shuttle launches had become routine and garnered little media play, school children across the country were watching that fateful liftoff live.

As I remember it, we heard only the NASA announcer and communication with the shuttle — no news anchor, no explanatory narrative. When it exploded, there was mostly silence. A couple of cutaways to people at Cape Canaveral looking up, looking confused. The now immortal line, "Obviously, a major malfunction." It took the teacher a minute to stumble to her feet and turn the TV off. I still wasn't sure what I'd seen, so the teacher's reaction was actually more distressing.

The loss of Columbia was devastating, particularly in the wake of 9/11. Jen, from Florida and with even stronger ties to the space program, was pretty shaken. I marveled at the images of the shuttle streaking through the sky, disintegrating. Horribly beautiful.

After digesting the real-time reaction on Metafilter — in some ways, a better way to gain perspective and solidify opinions than watching CNN — we turned off the television and quietly headed out the door.

We first took Katie to audition for a Mainland television commercial. Now, thanks to a friend in the "biz," she had tried out a couple of years ago, but she was too intimidated to really let loose. We were concerned that she'd be too shy again this time, but apparently a practice run last week at home with a video camera helped. She hammed it up, and, according to Jen, held her own pretty well alongside other kids and parents who were clearly casting veterans.

Then, while they attended a friend's kid's birthday party at the Zoo, I headed to the First United Methodist Church on Beretania to meet up with Sylvia. We were there to attend the wedding of Ruben Walston — an intern who worked with us about a year ago — and his sweetheart Deslynn Jaquias.

It was a short, spirited ceremony, filled with music and laughs. The processional was "All My Life" by KCi and Jojo, the congregation sang and clapped along to "Be With Me Lord," and songs by Boys II Men and Fiji were also featured. The words spoken were warm and lighthearted, even tinged with innuendo (not all of it intentional). The minister, Rhys Kiaaina, was passionate and boisterous, at one point asking Ruben in a talk-show-style voice, "What are you thinking about right now?"

"The honeymoon," Ruben answered. The church erupted in howls and laughter.

Sylvia and I had a blast, noting how very different it was from the conventional Catholic wedding. We wished the groom well, handing over our joint gift of a crystal bowl.

Finally I went in to Jiffy Lube off University Avenue for my safety check, which was already two months overdue. I'd forgotten that my rear-view mirror had fallen off a while ago, though, and when I got back from browsing the used CD racks at Cheapos Music I was told my van had failed. Another woman there got the same bad news because of "weak parking brakes," and after a few choice words, left in disgust.

I ended up running over to Checker Auto Parts (at the old Cinerama Theatres site), buying the glue and a new mirror, sitting in the parking lot and installing it, and driving back for a second inspection. Despite window tint that turned out to be at the very edge of legal, the staffer gave her approval and affixed the new sticker to my bumper.

Remembering the hard time the other customer had given her, I commended her for playing by the book. "Most places barely even look at the cars, and just sell the stickers," I said. She seemed encouraged.

Of course, I also knew I'd probably be going back to one of those places next year.

Tonight I again played the role of Tooth Fairy.

Katie lost her first tooth early last month, and tonight she rushed up to wave the second one in my face. Fortunately, both were lost to natural causes — the replacement teeth are pushing them up a bit earlier than expected, and are in fact already visible when she grins.

Sad as it is to see such tangible proof that she's growing up, I really don't miss either tooth, especially because the new gap in her smile is so cute. I wouldn't mind if a few others made an early exit, either, since Katie hasn't had the most stellar dental record, and some neighboring teeth aren't looking so good. It's the whole "Tooth Fairy" thing in general that I find most interesting.

The inflation seen in the tooth market is remarkable, for one thing. My first tooth was worth a nickel, and my last fetched a quarter, but already Katie's dental transactions on the Tooth Fairy Exchange have netted her two dollars. Her first dollar inspired her to attempt to buy our lunch at the mall last month. (I convinced her, aware of the irony, to spend it on some ice cream instead, adding a small subsidy.) I'll be curious what she dreams up tomorrow morning.

Also, I think Katie's easily twice as bright as I was at her age. Not only do I think she already suspects that the Tooth Fairy is being played by a member of her family with familiar handwriting (which tipped me off... at eight), but I have a feeling she's actually humoring us. She may very well be pretending to believe some spirit creature visits our Makiki apartment in the middle of the night, just to make us happy.

Even so, I'm trying. For now the illusion of magic is better than nothing. So far, among the greatest challenges I've faced in the role are not falling asleep, and not stepping on something that plays "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on the way in or out of her room.

She is sleeping in her room.

This is a noteworthy development, seeing as how she's been sleeping with us for the past four years. Of course, we've tried to move her out a few times before, so only time will tell if this is it, or just another ridiculous chapter in our half-hearted, eventually undocumented struggle. But since we'd been telling her since last year that being five years old was the absolute end, and had moved her to a sleeping bag on the floor soon afterward, she's not protesting as much.

Of course, she sneaks in overnight, but... I'll take whatever I can get. Having both kids in bed is just nuts.

Strangely enough, there was no deep philosophical reason for why we kept Katie in bed rather than in a crib, and why we're taking the same tack with Zac. Basically, it feels right, and — let's face it — it's easier. (I have a pretty cynical take on the "Attachment Parenting" doctrine, even though a lot of what we do fits the profile.)

At first it was a neccessity, as we didn't have a crib, and only one bedroom. We moved quickly into a bigger place, upping our rent considerably, but after a few disastrous attempts at getting Katie to sleep in another room (following what, in retrospect, was some pretty awful advice from a book), we kept her with us. As she got bigger, there were other attempts, but as the Borg would say, "Resistance was futile." She stayed. It meant a few kicks to the head, and perhaps a couple of disturbing stains, but it sure beat her crying and our stumbling around in the dark twice a night.

That's not to say that the justification for letting her sleep in our bed got pretty thin after she was weaned. But for the most part, it wasn't a problem. The hour or so before bedtime, all of us would just talk and play and tickle, and frankly it became a part of the day I really looked forward to. Just being with family.

Zac's going to be out at two, though. Really.


Hey ryan - a couple of things - 1) I once had a caravan (hope you're still driving the same car) with the same damn mirror problem. I got a ticket on campus in high school for not displaying my parking pass from my mirror. THE MIRROR WAS ON MY DASHBOARD and if only the security guard had opened his eyes . . . and 2) If you're like me, Jiffy Lube is the LAST place one should go to get a safety check!
julia (February 5, 2003 5:54 PM)

That Katie! What can I say!!! Outgoing, takes direction, all the while putting her little twist on the direction asked of her...such a free little spirit!!! She was a joy to have at the audition. Still no word, Ryan and Jen. I'm updating the web page when there's something to update!!! I can't wait to get Zac in for something! Whatta cutie that guy is. Speaking of editing web pages (g)...didya set up "old" employer on like you did for me?!!! Dang, I love you for that!!! probably are already aware of La Mariana Sailing Club, off of Sand Island Access Rd., for lunch. While it's menu will probably never get mentioned on the Food Channel, the ambiance is wonderful...Polynesian-tacky-chic! I love that place.
Tutu Sue (February 6, 2003 10:22 AM)

Hey Ryan -- so WHERE exactly will you be working in your new job, and what will you be doing? As for the Columbia shuttle launch, Alex and I were in Cocoa Beach (Florida) after the Walt Disney World Marathon last month. After we saw the launch on Thursday, we spent all of Friday visiting the Kennedy Space Center. This tragedy totally broke my heart... I was up on Saturday morning and the news person interrupted the regular programming on the radio to say that all communication had ceased from the Columbia, and that they were concerned. I immediately turned on the TV and was met with a horrifying video footage of what looked like PARTS falling from the sky. I know everybody feels touched, but really, Alex and I felt devastated.
Lani (February 6, 2003 11:03 AM)

There's a way to shroud the Tooth Fairy in more mystery -- don't leave any handwriting samples!
NemesisVex (February 7, 2003 6:24 PM)

Heh heh, Ferberization just plain sucks, doesn't it? Didn't have the heart to do it myself. I will tell you that when Nick got bigger, we had the big, bright, BEAUTIFUL idea of letting him share a bed with his older sister. It worked like a charm for all - I really think it helped them bond, and I got sleep. Ya gotta wait until he's mobile, though, and can fight for his share of the covers.
SusanJ (February 27, 2003 3:53 PM)

E kala mai! Comments have been disabled due to overwhelming abuse by spammers. Please click through to any of the video hosting services linked above to leave a public response, or feel free to send an e-mail. Mahalo!

© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: [ PGP ] · Created: 13 November 1997 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008