The Hawaiian Language: More than just Aloha and Mahalo

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I am coming up on my two year mark of living on the island. It still seems exciting yet unreal. Originally I was only supposed to be here for one year, or at least that was all the time I was allowed by my friends to leave the east coast. But coming up on two years is also exciting because I feel I am now able to absorb the Hawaiian culture. I am super stoked because I have finally developed an understanding of the key words of the  Hawaiian language.

It may seem strange to those of you living on the mainland, but really there are Hawaiian words (much more than Aloha, and Mahalo) that I had to learn in order to understand a simple conversation. And now that I am able to follow without hesitation, it makes some conversations so much easier. You may not hear me speak these words naturally, but at least I know what they mean.

One of the first facts that I learned when I moved to the island was that the Hawaiian language only has 13 letters. I quickly realized this to be true when I couldn’t pronounce most of the street names. And although I still cannot pronounce many of the street names, I can at least do a better job in trying to figure it out how it should be properly said. So with each day there is a little bit more progress, and each day a step closer to not sounding like a mainland idiot.

In case you were wondering the 13 letters of the Hawaiian alphabet are A, E, H, I K, L, M, N, O, P, U and W.  You know which words are native Hawaiian because these are the letters that are used over and over within one word (words that can be pretty long).

Since I work with a lot of local families it helps to actually understand some of the Hawaiian language. Some days it can feel like I live in another country, I learn words by putting them together within the context of a sentence. Hey now that I think about it maybe I can move to Spain or Italy, and still be able to make a way for myself.

I have complied a list of the top Hawaiian words that I have found are common to come across. Now if you come on vacation and stay in Waikiki, you may never ever hear these words. But if  you decide to venture out to lets say ummmm…Waianae, yeah you will hear these words and a lot more.

What you already know:

Aloha- Hello, Goodbye

Mahalo- Thank you

What you may want to know to heighten your Hawaiian experience:

Aina- Land, earth

Hanai-Adopted, or brought into the family

Hapai- Pregnant

Haole- Caucasian person

Hapa- Mixed race person

Kama`aina- Native-Hawaiian or long-time resident

Makai-  Ocean Side

Mauka- Mountain Side

Pau- Done, Finished

Pupu- Appetizer

Puka- Hole

Wahine- Woman

Kane- Man

Other small helpful hints: Children refer to any adult as Aunty or Uncle, it is just respect so don’t get alarmed. You will hear the term “Bruh” a lot and,  if you get mad at someone while driving, or if  you cut someone off just throw up the “shaka” it makes everything better. Last but not least the phrase “Da Kine” apparently has no real meaning, but goes for anything (yeah I still don’t understand that one).

The list goes on and on, these are just a few words to give you are head start so you don’t appear as a lost tourist once you arrive at the airport.

If you are interested about coming to Hawaii, visiting or moving to the island, check out:

Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian

Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian

Mary Kawena Pukui (Author), Samuel H. Elbert (Author)

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Perfection: A state with my very own NY-Hawaii mix

Lately I have found myself missing New York. I never ever thought I would  feel this way because when I left the chaos of the big city, I couldn’t escape the state fast enough. I was done, it was time to experience life at a different angle. But now I think I miss life as I knew it in New York. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not the feeling of wanting to permanently move back to New York.  The chances of me ever living in the city again are slim, yet the overall atmosphere of city life cannot be matched by living anywhere else.

I can’t figure out what it is exactly that I am yearning for at this point in time that is making me miss the city. Maybe its the summer NY air. A New York summer is always filled with good times. Block parties, loud music, and excessive drinking  during all hours of the night, what an experience! The humidity,  the extremely hot air, overcrowded subway stations, mounds of tourist, and walking for blocks while window shopping and enjoying the scenes of a good New York summer are consistently invading my mind. From open fire hydrants that kids play in, to waking up in the morning with a heat wave index of 100 degrees at sunrise, there is something that I am missing while I am Hawaii, and I know I just can’t get it here.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I love Hawaii, and I love the fact that a Hawaii summer is a year long event.  While the rest of the country is enduing a dramatic heat wave, In Hawaii there are always cool breezes and low humidity. It feels like a dream state with the most perfect weather.

There is nothing like waking up to the sun and warmth every day. Its great!  I have become the queen of tank tops and flip flops (slippas in Hawaii). I know some people like the four seasons, so for you I would say Hawaii is not the place to live. But since I am an all time hater of winter, it has become a perfect destination. Unfortunately for me I do not plan on living in Hawaii forever, and I must return to the the mainland. The mainland is reality. And I need to return to my reality.

Once I return to the Mainland, I feel I will yearn for my life in Hawaii, and miss that too!  The reasons why I love it so much cannot be compared to life on the mainland. I wish I could mesh my two worlds of Hawaii and New York. But alas, they are a world apart, with the entire continental United States in the middle, and an airplane ride that takes a whole day to reach either destination.

So with much thought here is what I find myself missing about New York City:

  • Free summer concerts in the park: I am an avid lover of Central Park Summer Stage, no matter who is performing, the experience is amazing and truly a NY must see! Prospect Park in Brooklyn has a summer full of Celebrate Brooklyn concerts, Flushing Meadows Park in Queens will have an occassional weekend celebration, and many of the other parks in Manhattan will truly have a great weekend event that will bring pleasure and delight for any age.
  • South Street Seaport: I just love the area, enough said!
  • Washington Square Park/Greenwhich Village: While attending NYU as a broke graduate student, I discovered the joys of the Village. I have walked this area many a time for hours just for my own entertainment. It is truly an NY gem. In the Village you never have to spend a lot of money, and you can have a great day! With street fairs, amazing food, and cool people you will defiantly be entertained.
  • Harlem: It has everything including Sylvia’s!
  • The hole in the wall fish place outside the west 145 st subway station. I would kill for some greasy fried fish, shrimp, and plantains all for 7 bucks!
  • West Indian food: Not that I eat it that much, but for some reason I have been craving oxtails with rice and peas.
  • Astoria: The cutest outside restaurants and Hooka bars! Summertime is a great time to just walk by a restaurant or stay for dinner while sitting outside to eat.
  • Rockefeller Center: Many a days I would walk over to Rockefeller Plaza, look down at the restaurant and  think about life. They also have free outdoor movies some nights.
  • A DELI: There are no corner deli’s with Boars head meat in Hawaii. Can you believe it? No corner deli’s at all! I want a grilled honey turkey sandwich!
  • Domincian Hairdressers: I really miss a getting my hair done for 40 bucks or less oh so nice!
  • The Subway: As much as I hate it, I miss it too. I have many memories of excitement and sadness that I have went through all on a subway ride.
  • Broadway: I love love love a good show!
  • Baseball games: Although I hate going to the games, its nice to have an option to see the Yankees or Mets play!
  • Lectures/Speakers: Hey I do have an intellectual mind! So I do miss hearing talks on a variety of topics and meeting professional scholars who speak on their area of expertise. With the many colleges in NY, there is always an event to attend.
  • Finally: PIZZA: Once I realized the Bronx had the best Pizza ever, I became a addict for life!

Then I realized once I leave the island I will miss so much about Hawaii,

What I will miss about my Hawaiian Paradise:        

  • The beaches, oh such a beautiful site
  • Morning workouts on the beach, running next to the ocean waves  is the best way to start off any day
  • The outdoor spin class in Waikiki: Imagine spinning while overlooking the surfers in the ocean along with the amazing evening sunset! Even though an outdoor spin class is hot, hot, hot, the view is well worth it.
  • The mountains, hiking is a surreal experience. Strenuous activity, but the reward of the views makes it worth every bit of the pain.  Try it, it will take you away from the everyday problems of the real world.
  • The Weather!! Yeah its just beautiful everyday, what else can you ask for
  • Shrimp at the North Shore, just delicious!
  • Giant waves at the North Shore, Oh do I wish I could surf
  • The entire North Shore, though it seems like a long drive from Honolulu, it is wonderful and Haleiwa is a great quiet little old town.
  • Surfers, gotta love them!
  • The Shaka! :Where else can one hand gesture stop people from getting upset, save you from getting your ass beat, and always say “hey everything is cool bruh”!
  • The macaroni salad, and white rice that comes with every meal! Trust me you get used to it after a while.
  • Poke, Ummmm just kidding, I still haven’t got used to the idea of eating raw fish! 🙂
  • All the other food, there is always just so much of it!
  • Waterfalls, though I always have the fear of getting leptospirosis from swimming in them, I just have to because a Hawaiian waterfall is 100 times better than a NYC public pool!
  • Sea turtles, Whales, Dolphins, and Sharks! You just have to develop a strong love for the water creatures
  • My job, truly awesome, from the program director, to my supervisor, to my coworkers, I could not ever dream about working with such a great group of people.
  • Finally I will miss the spirit of Aloha!!! No where else have I experienced such kindness, happy spirits, and a genoristy to help others. Thank you Hawaii for showing me that people can have a sense of genuine kindness and giving!

The quick and dirty east coast tour

After a year and two months of driving around in circles on the  island (because you can only go so far before you run out of actual land), I decided it was time to make a trip back to the east coast. Why not right? I figure a year is more than enough time for friends and family to miss the wonderful Jenni C 🙂 And I thought this would actually give me a chance to make a true comparison of NY and Hawaii, just in case I forgot anything about living in NY while on the island.

Now originally when I packed my bags and hopped on a plane a year ago, I didn’t think that life would change too much in a year. Heck when I was there life was the same every single day. I was in my very own version of groundhog day, except every once in a while the dialogs changed.  So what was I really going to miss? Apparently a whole lot! Another growing experience, life changes quick so hold on and be ready for sudden turns. Friends end up getting married and they don’t tell you, people have new babies and they don’t tell you, and people move to different states, they don’t tell you that either. Ummm…I didn’t die, I just moved to a different part of the world.  It’s funny how I did not realize that life happens at quick speeds while in the moment, because when I was in the middle of it all life seemed at its own permanent standstill.

Let me tell you the realizations that I did have on my limited edition east coast tour. And I do mean limited, because really who knows when I will be back that way. First I just have to say that New York City has wayyyyy too many people.  The locals say that the island of Oahu has too many people. Well they must have not been to NY.  I quickly remembered that there is no room to walk, and if you don’t walk at the speed racer pace of the city that doesn’t sleep, then yes, you are leaving yourself open to be trampled!

The city still smells the same, you know  that good old NY smell of hot piss and garbage, AHHHHH where else in the world can you get that smell. The subway, still dirty. Oh the  price to ride public transportation has increased, and the metrocard discounts are worse than ever. I will admit gladly that I was happy to drive in the city, and actually be allowed to honk my horn. On the island there is the widely known unwritten rule that no horn honking is allowed! I am very serious about that. Honk and you will quickly get  the stink eye, or cursed by a really big Samoan dude.  Have Aloha, be patient and wait. I think I went horn crazy in NY, and just honked for no reason, I cut people off, and didn’t even throw them the Shaka, like they would care I would just get the finger in return.

In NY I must say that I did enjoy myself. Maybe I kinda missed that fast paced, always on the go, if you sleep then you are wasting time hardcore mentality. I would see the look of work and money in the eyes of people racing through the streets, and running for trains. People are focused, determined, and will not rest until they are dead. There is no sense of relaxation, and work is a never ending concept that is an eternal flow through the body that is needed for survival. The hustle game is on, and it is truly the city where people are about getting that paper.

As as walked through Waikiki tonight, I came to the conclusion that I cannot compare NY and Hawaii. They do not fit into the same category of lifestyle. Lets say they are like apples and tomatoes. They both taste good, but you would have them at two completely different meals.

I like the relaxed pace of Hawaii. And the spirit of Aloha is something that comes in true form only in Hawaii. In Hawaii you can reach the epitome of happiness with the bare minimum. There will be  few competition for the hottest new jeans or sneakers. If you do see it, it will be between people who are from the mainland away. Locals are happy with just wearing slippers (flip flops), t-shirts, and shorts. No need to take out you Sunday best in Hawaii there is no where to wear it to! Men just need to have an Aloha shirt and they are all set for every event possible. Very few locals talk about getting paper, or whats the next big hustle. Life is great with just family, who cares if they live in a tent, at least they are together. It’s refreshing, its calm, and it works well for them.

When you are in a New York state of mind, well Jay-Z said it best, “the city never sleeps better slip them a ambien”. In NY money is being made at continuous speeds, and people are always trying to make more. If you sleep you may be missing out on the next big business opportunity (please excuse my slight over exaggeration, but not really). Now don’t get me wrong, both NY and Hawaii are equally expensive, these are not cheap cities to live in. But it is amazing to see lifestyle changes between the people of each city.  So if your into a slow (very slow) paced calm lifestyle, then Hawaii may work just fine. But if you are on your 24-7 focused driven, I gotta make it, and I gotta make it big, state of mind, the NY would be the right place for that!

Things I now know at 28, Just because I wasn’t paying attention at 27

MY BFF Dana and I on my 28th Birthday!!!

So I had a birthday! Last month, on March 19th to be exact I turned 28. Or as some people like to say…30 minus 2. Lets count it down!!!  But I’ll just say 28 for now.

It took me a while to really start to feel my brand spanking new age,  and say out loud that I am being pushed into becoming a year older, which is why it took me a month to post this blog.  Yes people I am 28! No longer can I claim ignorance as an excuse when I really just want to get wasted and pass out in some strange place. Nope I know better now, and I am not allowed to engage in my old college girl acts of random, crazy, fun!

Since turning 28 I don’t feel any different from when I was 27. But I feel a huge difference from age 18!  I now sit and watch CNN…OH NO!!! And I actually turn on Fox news, (as I wait for the day that that network will suddenly disappear),  just to see what nonsense, or new socialist theory Glenn Beck would like to rant on today. I am starting to think the Real World on MTV is not good television anymore, maybe because I am now too old to ever be a cast member. Actually, the only good show on MTV is 16 and pregnant. That is because I like to watch the unrealistic ways these girls think they can manage their lives and a newborn at the same time.  Now that is good television! Oh and the cast of the Jersey Shore will always be a bunch of idiots in my head. But I do wonder where they will be in 5 years…hmmm.

I understand that life means real responsibility, and every choice I make falls on me. No bail out for me! At 28 I have felt the joys and disappointment of love, and I still continue to move forward on the journey of learning more about love, life, career, and everything else that comes along with being 28 (Or the prepping phase for 30).

28,  in my late twenties, officially. The point where women start to get really anxious about being 30 and alone. No kids, No husband, Oh no, will I be myself forever!! No I don’t have those feelings just yet, I still feel great being just me, but I am clearly making a mental note to myself not to settle for a fool! I remember I am better than that, and settling will lead to eventual unhappiness.

So here is a brief list of things that I now know at 28, that maybe I didn’t want to accept at 27, but life is about reality right?

  • I will probably never hit the lotto to become rich quick
  • I will probably never marry a rich millionaire athlete or movie star (I think I am too old now, LOL)
  • A retirement account is a good thing to have
  • Being on reality TV is not exactly the best way to become famous
  • Bad days do not last forever, and a even greater day will be coming soon!
  • Love does not happen in a day
  • I will have to compromise in any relationship I am in
  • Men do like women who cook
  • Men like to be pampered as much as women do
  • Dating younger guys isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • It is ok to date guys who have reached the age of 40 without thinking he is an old ass man, and the fact that he likes me is repulsive
  • It is perfectly fine to date outside of my race ( sorry black men, but can some of you please step your game up!)
  • If I want something in life, then I will have to work to get it (damn it!)
  • It is a great thing to budget your money
  • I can survive on my own
  • I will get married to an awesome guy, who will also be my best friend
  • I will never ever get back together with my ex because he is worse than a total jerk!  (hey that is really good to know!)

I am excited to see what life has in store for me at 28, the first month hasn’t been so bad, so in the next 11 months I will continue to move with the changes of life, and embrace the good, grow from the bad, and continue to learn how I can improve on just being a better me!


Skydiving…We all should do it, at least once!!!

So I did it! I went Skydiving! Yes me, I jumped out of a perfectly good plane for no reason and lived to tell about it. Whew, that’s a good thing! To some who know me personally it would be a surprise that I actually went skydiving. As my mom asked with the tone of deep concern for my mental stability in her voice,  “why would I want to do that”?  Well why not do it! It is an awesome experience that makes you see life from a whole new level, and hey if all goes well (hopefully it does), you always have another story to add to your collection. 🙂

Me and my tandem Instructor Wyatt, great guy!

I am facing fears. I once thought that I had a fear of heights, but then I realized that I am only afraid when I stop, think about it, then tell myself that I am supposed to be afraid of being up in high places. There is really nothing really scary about being up high, but if I think that I will fall then the fear sets in. So I don’t think about, just do it! I moved to Hawaii it seems to be going well, I jumped out of a plane and survived, am I pushing my luck? What can I try next? And what do I really have to be afraid of?

While prepping to go up onto the plane that I was about to jump out of, I must admit that I started to have feelings of fear. Yup, doubts, wondering “what the heck am I doing”, and “if I die, am I ready to end my life”. It was a battle between negative thoughts, and the positive thoughts of “this is going to be great”, and “I can’t wait for the experience”. Positive thoughts are good to have, they help to relax your mind.  As I watched other people end their jump by smiling as they landed, the positive thoughts had the edge of hey this is not so bad after all 🙂

The moment as I was about to jump out of the plane with the instructor on my back was a life moment that I will never forget. Looking down into straight clouds, and feeling the breeze of the brisk air in my face  from the edge of this tiny plane (yeah tiny, I was more afraid of the engine blowing on the plane than actually jumping out of it) was a great moment. The free fall down was an experience like no other. The closest that I will ever get to flying. The feeling of freedom. Strong winds blowing directly into my face, seeing the sky from an angle that I would never imagine. Dropping to the ground from 14,000 feet high! But I had no fear! Just enjoying the moment because I have never felt anything like it. No roller coaster has ever given me that experience. It was as if life stopped and I was a brand new bird in the sky. New to the environment and wanting to feel every bit of this experience because I knew it would be over quick. And it was, next the parachute opened. A slow decline to the ground, I could see land, houses, and the beautiful scene of the pacific ocean. Thinking if I dropped suddenly I would rather fall  in the ocean than on land. The tandem instructor led us safely back to the ground, I even landed without breaking my ankle! Which I must admit was my biggest fear before this whole ordeal.

I survived, jumped out of a plane, with a man strapped to my back of course, and survived. What a feat! Hawaii has really been good to me so far, and this is another thing to add to my list. Would I have done this in NY, probably not. Having the freedom to try something new, not be afraid, and let go is actually working, and I hope it continues to lead me in great directions in the future.

The Tsunami that never happened! (Oh thank goodness)

Never before have I been in a Tsunami, and to tell you the truth I really don’t want to be in one. A large series of waves over taking dry land does not sound like a cool thing in my head. But I have learned when you live in Hawaii, there is a risk that you may be in a Tsunami. So everyone search for high ground, and prepare the emergency kit, because Tsunami’s are real, and there may be one coming for an island near you!

Ok let me be honest with you, before 2004 when the big Tsunami hit the south pacific, I had no idea what it was and the type of damage that it could actually cause. I had never even heard the word used before that time, but when it hit I was surely made aware that it is a seriously dangerous disaster that caused a huge number of deaths. Who knew that an earthquake could hit in one place, then a Tsunami is formed to add damage on to another. Well it real, and the threat of actually being in the middle of one quickly threw me back into a reality check, that I really do live on an island in the middle of the ocean, strictly surrounded by water.

When the 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Chile on Friday, the world had one natural disaster quickly followed by another. By early Saturday morning the tsunami alarms were sounding on the Hawaiian Islands. At about 2 am I got a frantic phone call and text message from a friend in NY asking me if I was alright. My thoughts were did something happen to my family in NY that I didn’t hear about, because I was fine, and trying to sleep! Then she told me about the tsunami warning in Hawaii, and wanted to make sure I was ok.  I just went to thinking, damn girl your crazy, of course I’m fine, and why are you waking me up at 2 am for this! I had no idea how serious the alert seemed to the outside world. Next came the loud blaring alarm starting from about 4 am in the morning. Remind you I have never been on tsunami alert before and had no idea what that annoying noise was. So my thoughts: “why don’t they stop making all that noise so I can get some sleep”. I had no idea news channels were broadcasting that an impeding natural disaster was on the way and the country was praying for Hawaii to be safe.

As the night went on more alarms, and to me, more annoying noise, nope I didn’t get up out of my bed to find out what it was. It was just noise disturbing my sleep. For a quick second I thought maybe it was a fire alarm, but figured I would hear people outside or someone would knock on my apartment door if we were in serious danger. Right? So I just attempted to sleep through the loud sirens that would wake sleeping giants. When morning came so did the phone calls. Friends on island telling me that we were on tsunami alert and to get to hight ground. Well I live on the 8th floor in a high-rise in the middle of the island, so I am safe right? That would have been one serious world ending wave to reach me, so what is all the panic about? Then messages from friends in NY asking if everything was ok, wow I didn’t know so many people cared about my well being. Well I guess it takes a near death experience to find out that people really do care about you. Sad? Yes.

I finally woke up from my bed when the sun was up, turned on the TV, and realized the island was in full on panic mode. On facebook, messages about this tsunami on the way to Hawaii. People sending out prayers for Chile and Hawaii. Wow this is serious! Food stores flooded with people. Gas stations running out of gas. Stock up on food, water, and toilet paper! Too bad I had a fully foodless house, and only a few bottles of 16 ounce water. By the time I had woke up to go to the store, yeah you know it was out water completely!! I have never seen shelves so empty in my life. I guess they were really preparing to be shut in for a few days.

Poor me I had no food, limited water, no batteries, and only two rolls of toilet paper. So they say Hawaii dodged the bullet. The major Tsunami never happened, no waves, we were left high and dry. Luckily, nothing happened. But maybe it was me who really dodged the bullet, it wasn’t until the threat of a natural disaster, that I realized, I am not at all prepared for one. So big Thank you’s go out to Mother Nature for looking out for me on this one! I am oh so glad that we had the Tsunami that never happened.

Oh yeah my gas tank was on empty too, so I would have really been shut in my apartment with no hope! 😦