A Gripping Conversation to Rival Dialogue in Newsroom

We’ve been watching "The Newsroom" and I sat there and I thought, “I’m not quite smart enough for this show” and “These characters have the best dialogue exchanges ever. Does anyone really talk like this?” Then I thought what would life be like if Kealoha and I had rapid-fire conversations that twisted and turned and then slapped you in the face. (After all of this thinking, I had to ask Kealoha to go back a minute in Newsroom so I could re-watch where I’d drifted.)


On Thursday, I made Kealoha walk with me around Reed’s Lake. It’s a 4.5-mile walk and I knew we’d have great conversations, and possibly dialogue sequences that would rival the smart characters on Newsroom, West Wing, and, heck, even NPR!


Not so much.

Kealoha sang snatches of “Under Pressure”. He said it should be our ‘thing’, the couple thing that we do at parties in front of people. He said I could be Freddie Mercury, but then he sang all the Freddie Mercury parts and I told him maybe he should do the duet by himself.

Then we talked about having a Taco dinner night and I said I didn’t want to smell like a taco and then we both giggled because I repeated, “I smell like taco”.

Our heart to heart rapid-fire conversation continued when we discussed the millionaire who moved his mansion two hundred feet so he could break the property up into three portions and sell it. I said “He’s smart”, and Kealoha answered with the bee-doh-bee-dohm part of the “Under Pressure” song.

At the end of our walk, mile 4.2, a group of running boys came right at us. High schoolers or college-age kids, running, without shirts, all washboard stomachs and testosterone. I said “Uh…” and pulled over to a driveway to check my phone so I wouldn’t notice shirtless boys. NOT APPROPRIATE. “They can run around me. I’m not moving,” Kealoha said, and walked straight into the River of Boy. I checked frantically for emails.

When the thudding feet and panting breaths passed, Kealoha looked at me. “Did you see that?” he asked, vaguely excited.

running-men “See what? I was checking important messages.” I could not admit I was purposefully not-seeing half-naked man-boys running.

“That guy held out his hand to high-five me and I high-fived him!”

“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “You did not just have a random high-five with a stranger. Those things don’t happen in the wild.”

“I did! I did it! He held out his hand like this and I high-fived it! I high-fived a stranger!”

I was mad that I missed this high-five miracle. “If that really happened, if you really had a random high-five in the wild, then you know what that means.”

Kealoha looked down at me. (He’s taller than me.) “What?”

“It means you have to make a wish.”

He didn’t even pause. “I wish for more high-fives.”

“That’s against the rules,” I said as we continued walking. Then we stopped at D&W and got stuff to make stir-fry and Kealoha sang more of Freddie Mercury’s lines that were supposed to be mine.

Well, I guess there’s a reason that I don’t write to television, although I think our dialogue is just gripping and filled with drama. Aaron Sorkin, feel free to give me a call.

On MasterChef and Macaroons

Kealoha and I were relaxing with a oh-so-not-summer-menu dinner of pierogies with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and bacon and decided to catch up on some MasterChef. The episode included the contestants cooking up a pig head (they didn’t put it on a stake and dance around with it though), then at a wedding for a bride with enormously arched eyebrows, and then the Pressure Test of cooking macaroons. Here is our conversation: Macaroons


ME: Oh! They’re cooking macaroons! We love macaroons!


ME: Hello? Remember Paris? We should eat some macaroons. It’ll remind us of our trip!

KEALOHA: I’ve never had a macaroon in my life!

ME: What are you talking about? Remember last year when we were in Paris and that hotel in Versailles gave us that whole box of macaroons? They were so delicious. Don’t you remember that?

KEALOHA: Yeah. But you ate all of my macaroons. You ate the whole box.

(Pause while I mentally flipped through my memories.)

ME: Ah. That’s right. Well, we should get a box of macaroons and I’ll eat them all and it will be just like Paris all over again.


Kealoha and I stayed in Grand Haven last night. I’m narrating all week long and I thought it would be nice to A) Not have to drive for two hours (round trip) and B) Stay at a hotel. Instead of a 50-minute drive home, I had a ten minute drive to the hotel and Kealoha met me at our room. I’d envisioned a conversation with the desk clerk. Here’s what happened in my brain:

ME: I’m here for the night. Last minute idea.

CLERK: But you don’t have any luggage!

ME (nervously): That’s because, ehm, my, er, husband is coming and he’ll bring the luggage. Yeah. My husband. That’s right.

(In my head I sounded suspicious even to myself.)

CLERK: Oh. Okay. I got you. Your ‘husband’. (wink wink wink)

ME: No! Really! My husband is meeting me at this hotel! With my luggage! I’m not that kind of woman to have a tawdry affair. I’m only tawdry with my husband!


I guess I like drama. Or at least I like envisioning drama. The real conversation went like this:

ME: I’m here for the night. Last minute idea.

CLERK: Credit card, please.

Then Kealoha and I had average burgers in the restaurant and then used the whirpool where my swimsuit immediately filled with air and farted along to the beat of the bubbles in the water. I was afraid that my boobs looked so big that random hungry babies would run after me crying for milk and my soul, but no babies chased me. We saw one baby, but he was more interested in chewing on his fist than my enormous tatas.

I fell asleep at 9, while Kealoha giggled to “Hot Tub Time Machine”. In the morning, we had breakfast and then walked along the pier. It was all foggy and moody and slight creepy. Then out of the darkness we saw something truly horrifying! A sump truck pumping sewage! The smell hit me in the face like an old-timey boxer. Rat bastard. And I noticed that the guy doing the pumping (ahem. Sump-pumping) did this WHILE SMOKING A CIGARETTE. Again, my brain took over as I imagined gigantic green fireballs and me screaming to Kealoha RUNNNNN!!!!

We didn’t run. We turned around and crossed the street.

Then we made our way back down to the water and SPLOOSH!

Merman fish tail I saw a merman! A MERMAN! That fucker was huge, jumping out of the water like Greg Louganis in reverse. At least I think it was a Merman. I sorta only saw it out of the corner of my eye.

ME: Jeez! Did you see that Merman?

KEALOHA: (sigh)

ME: Maybe it was a fish.

KEALOHA: Yes. That was a fish.

SPLOOSH! Another ‘fish’ took a leap and splash.

ME: Nature is freaky.

Kealoha held my hand to calm me down and then drove me back to the car. Then I was back in the studio and falling in love and doing naughty things in a cabin, and then winning second place in a holiday window competition.

Just another day of narrating and life in general.

Becoming Jabba and Other Thoughts on the Heat Wave

Okay. So, picture Jabba the Hut in your mind. There he is, just sitting there, talking in some kind of language that sounds like he’s had a stroke. He’s got weird creatures chained to him and he kind of orders people around.  


That’s been me this week.

I’m always amazed that you can have in your head all these plans and then they just don’t happen. The kids have been in Canada for a week so I was going to walk around Reed’s Lake every day and cook stuff only purchased at the Farmer’s Market, and Kealoha and I were going to ride our bikes while whistling Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, and I’d finish “Tunnel Vision” in a flurry of intense creative activity, and I’d also read a classic novel or two.

Yeah. Then the mofo heat wave started and even though we have air conditioning….I just…Became Jabba. I had a couple of narration gigs so I’d go to the studio, sit still and read all day, then come home exhausted, talk like I had a stroke, watch Breaking Bad, read “The Walking Dead”, and eat dinner with Kealoha in the basement while watching MasterChef. All I needed was some creatures chained to me.

Exercise? Go for bike rides? Whistle? Are you KIDDING me? It’s been an effort not to fan myself continuously while speaking in a bad Tennessee Williams type accent saying “My, it is hot out there. My my my. So hot that you could fry butter on the sidewalk. Bring me a biscuit, Matthew. And sop up that butter with it and feed it to my soul. My aching soul.”


Actually, I’d much rather be a Tennessee Williams character than Jabba the Hut. For one thing, Jabba is all big and naked and green. Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof gets to walk around in a sexy slip.


I’ve totally lost my focus here.


I’m going to go put a slip on and watch Nigella Lawson reruns on the Cooking Channel. That way I’ll feel like I’m accomplishing something by LEARNING and will improve my body image by looking at a curvy cook while feeling delicious in my slip.



This heat wave needs to stop. NOW. I can’t take it.


And now I want a biscuit. For my soul. Goddammit.

Demons, Betty Crocker, and Random Suckling

Last week I was complaining a bit to Kealoha that I was super overwhelmed and busy and I needed time to catch up on everything. I’m not sure how it happened EXACTLY, but that’s when he offered to hijack my blog. We made an agreement. “Okay,” I said, “You take it over for a week and don’t let me touch it. I mean, no matter what evil thing I say, don’t let me near it. I can’t blog and narrate and teach and parent and do all of that at once. One of these plates needs to stop spinning.” Maybe I didn’t say all of that OUT LOUD, but Kealoha got my drift. I didn’t think he’d actually listen to me.

You know how when people in movies go into a scary locked room to deal with a demon and they’re all like “No matter what, don’t open that door! No matter what I say or do, do not let me out of that room!” The person agrees. The nutjob goes into the demon room, shuts the door and then immediately they start screaming “Dear god! Open that door! I’m BEING ATTACKED! HOW CAN YOU BE SO HEARTLESS??? OPEN THE DOOR!!” and then: blood curdling scream and a hand clawing at the window.

Yeah. That happened to me with the blog after being locked out for only three hours.


I have real control issues.


Kealoha said he changed my password and posted two blogs. After many password attempts, I discovered he didn’t change my password at all and was just messing with me…and following my instructions to keep me off the blog and focused on the things I needed to do this week.

Dammit all. He’s so good to me.

I guess I needed that mini-break. I needed the illusion that I couldn’t blog because suddenly I WANTED to blog again and thought of a million things to talk about. Things like, oh, when I teach and wear a low-cut shirt I also wear a camisole to cover up my cleavage because I don’t want to give the students nightmares AND I also worry that freaky little children will want to suckle me. (This is a throwback to the horrors of nursing…which I wasn’t able to do thank god for more than a couple of days until the nurses said “Oh, honey. It just isn’t going to work for you. You don’t have the right nipples.” Who knew that was even possible?)

See? That’s what I haven’t had the opportunity to share with you all.

I took my blog back. And Kealoha is back to sleeping in the bed with me instead of on the couch.*



*Actually, he slept on the couch because of a sinus infection. It had nothing to do with me, but I’m trying to create the illusion here that I’m a fierce mo-fo, even if I’m actually more like Betty Crocker.

Tanya's Week Off - Pt 2

Kealoha here. Again. After yesterday's Mai Tai rant (it needed to be said), I thought I'd keep today's faux blog entry short.


1. Soft snoring (very sweet 'girly' snore)

2. Loud snore, which wakes her up and then she says "Was I snoring?"

3. Soft guttural "uh" sound. (very cute, makes me smile)

4. Loud grunting noise. This definitely makes her wake up and say, "I grunted, didn't I?" It's difficult for me to respond because I'm usually laughing.


Yes, I understand there will be payback for this.

Tanya's Week Off

Kealoha here. Seriously. Tanya needs this week off. She's got narration, voice-overs, teaching, writing, editing.....  You get the idea.

So I told her not to stress about blogging. In fact, I've changed her password, so not only can't she blog, but she'll need to resort to leaving comments if she has anything to say!

I'm not taking all of her social media away. She still has Facebook and Twitter. And Pinterest, which I've still avoided.

Plus, this blog needs a few more references to tikis!

Limited Edition Tiki Bowl

That, dear readers, is not a Mai Tai.

In today's cocktail culture, the only safe place to have a Mai Tai is in a Tiki bar. And those are few and far between. (I would suggest searching Critiki to find the closest bar to your location, and make sure you thank them for keeping the spirit alive!)

If you can't make it to a Tiki Bar, here's an easy to follow recipe:

Trader Vic's Mai Tai

1 oz fresh lime juice ½ oz orange Curacao  (ORANGE! NOT BLUE!!!) ¼ oz orgeat syrup  (Orgeat is an almond syrup. Usually found with coffee syrups) ¼ oz rock candy syrup  (I've been substituting Agave Syrup, and it works great) 1 oz aged Jamaican rum (I would highly suggest Appleton Estate) 1 oz aged Martinique rum (Myers Dark rum is perfect) Shake well with plenty of crushed ice. Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass. Sink your spent lime shell into drink. Garnish with a mint sprig. Original drink by Trader Vic, 1944. Adapted from Jeff Berry & Annene Kaye, Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log. (San Jose: SLG Publishing, 1998) p. 50

OK class, get shaking!

Aloha & Mahalo!

Thanksgiving Disaster (What's Yours?)

Thanksgiving is on THURSDAY! Oh, baby! I’m so excited! A holiday devoted to overeating and family awkwardness….what could be better?  

And I have to admit I’m glad that Baby Jesus doesn’t have any part of this holiday. Not because I’m against Jesus, it’s just that I can’t stuff my face guilt free if I’m thinking about salvation and world peace. No. This holiday is about guilt-free gluttony pure and simple. And pie. It’s also about pie.


I’m making the traditional stuff, and a three-tiered chocolate ganache and mousse cake. More about that in a later post. You know, an appetizing post.


We were watching "The New Girl” last night and they had their Thanksgiving episode on. It reminds me that everyone pretty much has a Thanksgiving Disaster story. Mine happened several years ago when I was married to the kids’ dad. The kids were two and one and I had decided to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal for his parents who were coming down from Canada. That’s always awkward because Thanksgiving is all about celebrating being American, and Canadians don’t like that sort of thing. They like to set themselves apart from Americans…so much so that they have Thanksgiving too, only in October so they can beat us to it.

The week before Thanksgiving, the kids had all been hammered with the stomach flu. I won’t go into too many details but let me just say A) toddlers can puke an amazing distance and B) you can’t catch it in your hands, even though impulsively you may try.


By the time my in-laws got to the house, everyone was feeling okay, except the flu finally caught up with me. I spent a day running to the bathroom and trying to throw up QUIETLY so as not to disturb anyone.


Then my mother-in-law decided to help out and cook for everyone. She made an enormous pot of pasta with spicy sausage, green peppers, onions, and tomato sauce. The house smelled like hot meat and garlic. It did not suit my stomach AT ALL.


Then I recovered. The next day, my then-husband was sick….only he’d sadly eaten a ton of that spicy meat pasta the day before. Then my father-in-law got sick. It was horrendous. And there’s nothing worse than listen to the beast sound of men puking. Seriously.

Then our sewer backed up, and my one-year-old daughter fell down the stairs. She rolled down the stairs, we looked at her in horror, and then she started crawling around like nothing had happened. I’m still in therapy over it.


Two days later, it was Thanksgiving. We were pretty much all battered and bruised. My father-in-law shook his head and said in his heavy French Canadian accent “Oh, Tanya, that was terrible. It was like that song. A ring of fire.”


Turkey and mashed potatoes soothed our broken bodies.


I laugh about that Thanksgiving now, but it was truly terrible.


I’m really looking forward to this Thanksgiving. I’ve got Kealoha, his family, my sister and her family, my mom, and kids. And hopefully no one will suffer “The Ring of Fire”. I’m hoping we all just get indigestion from eating too much. You better believe I’ll be wearing my yoga pants. God, I love those things. In fact, I hope everyone comes in yoga pants: kids, women, and especially men. It just would intensify all that family awkwardness.


Have a Thanksgiving Disaster? Please post it here in the comments. Don't have one? Don't worry. Maybe this year is the year for you.

Worst Picture of Me EVER.

So my dear, quirky, neurotic husband took this truly horrible picture of me. It’s so horrible, I keep looking at it. Seriously. It’s on my desktop. I obsessively click on it. I ENLARGE it. I look at it and a thin sheen of sweat breaks out over my forehead and I think “Good god. Is that me? That can’t be me. Do I look like that when I’m sleeping? No! NOOOOoooOOOO!” It is me though. Here. Look at it. Just look at it, I tells ya. Do your eyes burn?

Now, granted, when this photo was taken, I’d had the kids for about a week and my daughter wasn’t feeling good. She kept waking up in the middle of the night and I’d rush to her so she wouldn’t wake up my son or Kealoha. Then I couldn’t get back to sleep for an hour or so, and then I’d finally fall asleep, and my daughter would wake up bright eyed and ready to go AT 5:30 IN THE F^&#ING MORNING! So. I was operating on about two hours of sleep for a week. And then we had Kealoha’s parents and my mom and his grandma over and I’d been narrating and apparently (from the picture) eating enormous sandwiches while PMSing. Clearly, I’m bloated in this picture.


Look at it. I mean, just LOOK at it. It’s the worst picture ever!!! I am both horrified and endlessly amused by it. I know the angle is bad, and that I’m exhausted. I know that when I stand up that those rolls on my neck disappear. But it’s like Kealoha took a picture of my worst fears realized and now I can’t stop looking at it.


Went to my doctor’s this week for my annual exam. He gently told me that I probably need to lose ten pounds. I told him I’d been trying to lose ten pounds since I broke my foot. So he’s going to have my thyroid checked to make sure things are working the way they should. Still. If this picture isn’t encouragement to up the workout (again) and down the bread (down as in ‘put it down’ not ‘swallow’) …then I don’t know what kind of encouragement I need.


Worst picture EVER. I’m going to look at it one more time, just to be sure.




Yep. Still awful.


Here’s one where I look shiny and voluptuous. I'm wearing the same hoodie in this picture. It was taken at a cooking class I went to with my friend D. Of course, it looks like I'm going to bust out of the hoodie, like I'm wearing pasties underneath or something, but that's just the glow-ey effect that cooking has on me.



There. That’s better.


Oh. And here’s an awful picture of my son that he took himself. We didn’t know he had done this. It just showed up when we downloaded the pictures to the computer. This makes me laugh.


I guess that’s the benefit of awful pictures. They can make you laugh. (I’m very tempted to post an awful picture I took of Kealoha where he looks very, very effeminate. I’ll save that one. Keep it in my pocket for blackmail.)



The Perfect Answer to "Do I Look Fat?"

There are times when you know you shouldn’t ask a question, but you just can’t stop yourself. This happens to me all the time. I sorta float outside my body, see what I’m about to do, tell myself “Oh no you don’t” and then I go ahead and ask the question anyway.  

This happened Sunday evening. Kealoha’s parents and grandmother came over for lunch along with my mom. His grandmother is in her nineties and says what’s on her mind. It’d okay. I figure she’s earned that right. She told us we should live in a different house, that mine was too small, that Kealoha needed to lose weight, that her fingernails were falling off and I was terrified that she was going to tell me I looked fat (because she did say that in my engagement pictures I looked fatter in some pictures than others). Thankfully, she didn’t call me fat. I might’ve cried.

Later, once everyone was gone, I sat drinking my wine. Louis (6) sat working on his homework and Kealoha sat across from us. And I floated outside my body and I knew I shouldn’t ask it but I did it anyway. I said those words every woman shouldn’t say, but she does it anyway. I said: “Do I look fat?”

There was a moment of post-nuclear silence and I think I could see Kealoha sweating. Louis said immediately “Oooooh, no. You are NOT fat. You might FEEL fat, but you are definitely NOT fat.” Then he continued with his homework.

I sat back, glowing. That might be the best answer I have ever heard for that impossible question.

Men: memorize that answer. You’re about to make the woman in your life very happy, and it’s an answer she’ll understand.

I asked Kealoha to check his app and see if I was PMSing. I’m not, but Louis was right. I just FEEL fat. It’s stress. And extra salt. The feeling will pass.

The Wedding

I'm still processing everything...but what I can say right now is that I had my dream wedding. It didn't involve a hugely expensive dress or gigantic flowers. There were no violins or love poems. There was great food, great drinks, and one of the shortest ceremonies ever. There was Star Wars music, Elvis, "Dancing in the Moonlight" and my family and friends laughing, applauding, and dancing the night away.

I'll blog more about it later.  I'm hoping that for everyone there it was more than just a was a time to relax and have fun with the people important in your life.

Here's the song my brother danced me down the aisle to. I wanted to enter the marriage with pure joy...and it's totally how I feel about Kealoha. I never really believed in soul mates, until I met him. I love that man. If you know him, then it's easy for you to see why.


On Getting Married. A Letter To My Former Self.

The wedding is finally here. It’s really here! Kealoha and I are officially getting hitched. Hotel is booked. Flowers ordered. Food set. Dress and all that jazz ready to go. Friends and family coming in to town from all over Michigan, New York, and Florida. We are so excited. Of course, to say that this makes me a little emotional and weepy is an understatement. Last night I was crying while watching Chopped. Granted, I cry while watching Chopped a lot, but this time there were big tears. Sometimes being happy is hard to handle.

I’ve been thinking about the blog I wanted to write before the wedding. Most of what I want to say about Kealoha, I’ve already said.

What I want to do instead, then, is talk to my former self, my self from two and a half years ago. If I knew how this story would end, I could have told her so many things. Of course, you can’t know the future…you just have to believe there is one. So. I write this letter to who I was two and a half years ago, but maybe I’m also writing it to some of you. I’ve had comments from readers and friends going through things I went through. So. This is to me and to you.


Dear Tanya of 2009,

Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. Know that with choosing to start over, you are choosing a hard road, a sometimes lonely road, but it is the right road. Stand up for yourself. You don’t need to justify your choices to anyone or defend. Just be quietly strong. Others will come around to seeing why you made the choices you did.

Believe the future will be better. You will find yourself one day with a broken foot. You will collapse on the floor of your kitchen and you will cry and sob at the sheer weight of your losses and your fear. You will have no money. You will be afraid of losing your teaching job and your narration gigs. You will be terrified of losing you children. You will not be able to walk on your own. When your sister says, lovingly, that at least thing can’t get any worse…laugh…and believe her. From that moment on, you will be stronger. You will be new. You will emerge, a Phoenix.

Fight for what you want. You will do surprising things. You will buy a house because you are determined and you don’t accept people telling you ‘no’ anymore. You will teach and give your heart to your students. They will appreciate you for who you are.

You will be lonely. You will cry. It’s okay. You will need to be on your own for awhile….because you will need to remember who you are. You can only remember who you are when you are quiet and there is no one around to distract you.

You will screw up. You will make bad choices. You will go on bad dates and try to convince yourself that this is what you deserve. Then you will wise up, and your new strength will tell you to move on. You will not make those mistakes again.

You will open your heart. You will learn to love a friend. Your kids will thrive. Your new home will be warm and inviting. There will be laughter again. Your confidence will grow. You will still worry about money and choices and whether you are a good mother to your kids, a good partner to your fiancé. It’s okay. It’s good to worry about these things.

And when you are ready, when you have finally stopped being angry about the past and when you can be strong in the choices you’ve made…then…then you will wear a 1950s dress and your friends and family will watch you marry the man who has been in your life for 15 years, but always on the outside of it…until time and experience and living allowed you to see him for the first time.

No matter how bad things get, believe things will change. Things will change, because you have made them change. You did not leave it up to Fate or wishful thinking. Things will change because you willed it to happen. Things do change. For the better. You can do this.



Maybe I couldn’t tell myself these things then, but I think somehow I believed them anyway.

So. A letter to myself…but also to others of you out there. Maybe the whole foot thing won’t apply to you, but it might if you think of it as a metaphor.

Cheers, Tanya of 2011

Eating Dinner IN THE DARK--Blindfolded at San Chez

Kealoha and I decided to have one final date night as singles before the big wedding day…and what better way to celebrate than eating a ten-course dinner entirely in the dark? I mean, this was an obvious choice. So when San Chez sent an email saying they were having a Dinner In The Dark where guests were blindfolded and the menu was secret, Kealoha signed us up. (He’s no longer concussed so he was thinking fully when he agreed to it.)

What’s it like eating in the dark? Awkward at first, and then strangely sensual.

We sat down in the café part of San Chez and waited for the guests to arrive. What kind of people would subject themselves to eating blind? First, you have to have a pretty hefty amount of trust…and you also have to be okay with possibly looking ridiculous. About twenty or so others joined us with people from their late twenties to those daredevil baby boomers.

After waiting for some late customers (annoying. be on time.) the blindfolds came down.

You really couldn’t see. Suddenly the world became sounds and smells and touch. I told Kealoha if he wasn’t talking I wouldn’t know he was there. He put his hand on my knee. At least I think it was him.

The first course came. Every course was paired with an alcoholic beverage…and by the time we started eating we really, really wanted a drink. The server set the dish in front of us. “Okay,” she said, “it’s directly in front of you. There’s a little dish and a sauce. Enjoy.” That was all the instruction.

I gently used my fingertips to find the plate, lifted it to my lips and…then what? How did I eat it? I couldn’t see. I probed it with my fingertips and touched something silky and wet, and then some soft and cool pillow of sauce at the bottom of the dish. I wrapped my fingers around the item and put it tenderly in my mouth. (I could be writing an erotica novel right now.) It was delicious. Slightly sweet with a salty and nutty sauce. I had no idea what I was eating, but I liked it. I could tell by Kealoha’s grunts that he liked it too. Or he was doing push ups. Not sure about that.

Apparently, we were eating a Nori Salad Bouquet with Warm Soy Dressing. Lovely.

Next came bitter beer (not a fan) with a crispy bruschetta toast. The server said “It’s in front of you and is rectangular in shape. The topping is balanced on it.” Again, my fingers probed gently, I brought the bread up to my mouth and bit in. Chewy. Crunchy. Smooth. Buttery. Oh, bruschetta smeared with a warm butter. Really good butter too. Luscious. And then the acidic sweet taste of what I thought was marinated cherries. I crushed them with my tongue on the roof of my mouth. A blend and balance of sweet, salty, savory, cream. Mmm. What was it? Bone Marrow On Foccacia With Hawaiian Black Salt and Sherried Grapes.

Yes. Bone marrow. And it was good. I now understand why cave men sucked on bones and why we have the phrase “suck the marrow” of life. It’s pure decadent living…and makes a girl who sometimes swings vegetarian feel a smidge guilty.

The night wore on. It was a long time of sitting in the dark. Kealoha and I chatted about the upcoming wedding, memories, everyday stresses. A table of four women got drunk and took off their blindfolds, but everyone else stayed in the game. There were highlights of the night, and a few that weren’t as successful. One dish was cold, another warm. Some played with modern gastronomy techniques. You never knew what was coming.

The Cuban Deconstruct: Swiss Tuille, Gherkin, Pork Powder, Pickled Mustard Seeds And Atomized Mojo was a revelation. Seriously, it was like a perfect morsel of food. At once exciting, titillating, and harmonious. I’m not talking about music or sex, but I could be. Good food is like that.

And another favorite was the Sizzling Scallops. The restaurant sizzled and it sounded like rain. We caught a waft of smoke and the sea and then were presented with something balanced on a fork. I couldn’t take it in one bite, so I had to touch it. Soft, squishy, something fluffy on top. It was a perfectly cooked scallop (it dissolved in your mouth) with what tasted like caramelized brown sugar. In fact, the scalllop was topped with squid ink cotton candy. I really would’ve liked to have seen that one.

Less successful dishes included a Deep Fried Egg Yolk with Asparagus Foam and Lemon Zest. While the crunch and foaminess were texturally appealing, the dish lacked salt and flavor. The Foiley Pop was an exciting dish, but as a sometime vegetarian, it was a bit much for me. It arrived in a Ziploc bag. I fumbled with the bag to open it, revealing a puff of woodsmoke. I found the stick, and put the item in my mouth and immediately my tongue danced and popped. The gelatinous center though scared me. I imagined eating an eyeball lollipop or something, and I had to take a big drink of water. It was foi gras on a stick with sour berry pop rocks and cherry wood smoke. The people on Chopped would’ve been impressed; it just wasn’t my thing.

The evening ended around 11 and Kealoha and I were exhausted. The chefs toyed with our senses, the servers spritzed us with scents and surprised us with sounds, and Kealoha and I stumbled awkwardly through it, side by side.

Sort of a metaphor for marriage, I suppose.

Would I do this again? You bet. The evening pushed me out of my comfort zone with food and it made me aware that food is, at its best, a sensual experience. It was an adventurous night, and all we had to do was go downtown and put a blindfold on. And we got to keep our blindfolds…you know…in case we need them…for…uhm…another adventure.

Living the Life with Pulled Pork and Jonathan Coulton

This weekend Kealoha took me to see the Jonathan Coulton/They Might Be Giants concert at the Intersection.

At first I didn’t really want to go. It was on Sunday night and the idea of going out on a Sunday with school and kids on Monday was just a little overwhelming. Then I told myself to stop being so old and crotchety. He wanted to see a concert…and a really great concert at that. The last concert I saw was my son’s Kindergarten class singing a medley of non-religious generic holiday music…most of which was off key and included snowflake references.

So we went. First we went to a bar/restaurant on Division and I actually said “As long as you believe it’s safe, then I’ll go.” I almost laughed at myself. Next I’d be talking about roaming hobos. (What has happened to me? When did I become so suburban?)

Dinner consisted of wine and a fancy pulled pork sandwich on a pretzel bun and some of the best fries ever. Then we drove to The Intersection. I started having flashbacks to my twenties; of course then The Intersection was grungy and in Eastown and I was dating a musician who sometimes played there. I got to be on the Get In Free list, and I must admit it felt pretty cool to be a groupie. No list this time though. Kealoha and I stood in a long line that stretched under the bridge. Everyone in line looked the same; it’s like we called each other with the outfit choices.

Kealoha and I wore jeans, t-shirts, and sweatshirt hoodies. Others wore Converse shoes, skinny jeans, and t-shirts with their favorite unknown band logo displayed proudly for people to look up on their iPhones while waiting for the doors to open.

We finally got inside, paid our $43 for a pair of tickets and were swept into the open black hole that is The Intersection. Not a bad little space; it has black walls and dark floors. I imagine if you were tripping on something you’d feel like you were an astronaut floating in space. There were pretty mood-lights to make it all feel concert-y. And there weren’t enough chairs. We all stood around awkwardly, like an unsuccessful party with not enough people, food, or drinks.

Most of the people were in their thirties and forties. A few brought their kids along. The crazy thing is, if you spun the word backwards and slipped back fifteen years or so, we’d all still look exactly the same, wearing the same clothes, still bobbing along awkwardly to the music. It was one of those “Eek! I’m revisiting my twenties!” kind of moments. Only at this age, everyone just seemed a little plumper. And we talked about our kids and stuff like having bunions removed.

Still, Kealoha and I reveled in our hour of living The Life. We smiled and bobbed our heads slightly in time to the music. We were there mostly to see Jonathan Coulton (who Kealoha introduced me to. Not literally. Just his music.) After a half hour of songs about getting an artificial heart and monkey love or something, Coulton’s set was done and Kealoha and I were on our way home. I have to admit, my feet sort of hurt from standing on the concrete.

It was nice to revisit my twenties, but I’ve got to admit, I wouldn’t want to live there again. I’m strangely content with being in my yoga pant pajamas by 8:30 PM, snuggling next to Kealoha and watching the foreign version of "The Girl Who Played With Fire" while trying desperately not to fall asleep.

I’m not a hipster. I’m not even cool. I actually don’t even know what the cool word for cool is anymore.

I am sooooo okay with that.


Please enjoy this song by Jonathan Coulton, presented in "Zombie Sign Language". Hope you find it uplifting.

Engagement Photos (aka THE HORROR!)

Kealoha and I were having a lovely time during our engagement photo session with Josh Martin of Verve Imagery when a very strange thing happened. Sometimes, words just can't explain. You have to see it for yourself.

Yes. It's going to be that kind of marriage. It's okay though. We'll have each other through good times, through bad, and through attack of zombies and/or Japanese Horror film ghosts. Rock on.

*High five!*


Special thanks: To Josh Martin of Verve Imagery for his pictures.

To Kalie Hoodhood for her zombie-ness. She's also an artist. Check her stuff out at the Eastown Artfair, coming soon.

And to Kealoha, for spending time on the pictures by 'enhancing their magic'.

How A Writer Brain Can Take Over Your Life, Blob Style

Sometimes, having a Writer Brain really sucks, especially when you’re worried about something. Now, when you’re writing a scene or plotting a novel, it’s great to have your brain flying forward and imagining all these possible scenarios. For instance, a young woman walks into a restaurant. Here are things that could happen:

  • She sits alone at a table. Checks her watch. Orders. We think she’s been stood up. We find out that she wasn’t expecting anyone at all. She’s a lonely woman who pretends to be waiting for someone, and hopes maybe one night, someone will share dinner with her.


  • She meets some girlfriends for a reunion. They haven’t seen each other in ten years. She is having an affair with one of the women’s husbands.


  • She meets a man she’s been set up on a blind date with. He is seated at the table. He’s cute. They laugh. They flirt. After a bottle of wine, he gets up to go to the bathroom and she sees that he has really short legs. In fact, the guy is only about 4’4”.


See? Lots of possibilities. But when you apply this same Writer Brain to a real life situation, it sucks. Big time. In fact, a Writer Brain can take over your life Blob-Style.

Consider Kealoha’s concussion that I mentioned last week.


In reality, I know that he has a mild concussion and that they’re very common and that unless something goes really wrong, he’ll be totally fine in the next few weeks. Hopefully before the wedding.


But it’s that phrase “unless something goes really wrong” that makes my brain go into overdrive.


Here’s what I’ve been thinking. I imagine full scenes happening in which:


  • Kealoha goes in for a scan and finds his brain is swelling at an abnormal pace. They call him in for immediate brain surgery. I have to work but Kealoha tells me he’s fine. It’s only a little neurosurgery. Then he gets his head shaved and is operated on. He has to relearn how to walk. At our wedding, he waits for me at the aisle in his wheelchair. It’s very emotional because everyone is like, dude, he just had brain surgery and he’s still here. He must really want to get married. He can't say "I do", but he can say "Errggg" and everyone pretty much thinks that counts.




  • Kealoha’s brain is so rattled that he can no longer smell or taste anything. He has a life changing moment where he decides he needs to hit every tiki bar in the country before he can say his vows, in the hopes of getting back his taste and smell. He packs his bag and decides to take a trip for a while. He’s not sure if he’ll be back for the wedding, but he’ll try.



  • Kealoha falls into a deep coma. That’s all I’ll say about that one, because everything that happens in this scenario is so depressing that I can’t even talk about it.


For some reason, my Writer Brain didn’t envision what actually happened.


  • Kealoha goes in for a scan. It takes five minutes. They say that if anything is really wrong, he’ll hear from the doctor right away. Friday ticks away. We don’t hear anything from the doctor, thus we can assume everything is fine. We spend the weekend taking it easy. I run errands, obsess, and am generally anxious. Kealoha takes codeine and giggles. And he takes naps.


Hopefully, everything will be just fine. It will be just fine. I’m just having a deep panic attack about the wedding. And whenever I’m happy, I brace for something bad happening. So. I know this. I know I need to relax and stop worrying.

My biggest worry is my weight. I've been trying to lose weight for two months, but I lose some and then gain it back. I'm not committed enough to do a deprivation diet. I just can't! I also know that I am the same weight I was last year so I need to stop obsessing about what everyone will think of me when I walk down that aisle. I need to remember that the people coming to the wedding are our closest friends and family and they love both me and Kealoha just the way we are.


Ah. I do need to say that in all my terrible visions, I never once imagined abandoning Kealoha even after he needed speech therapy and had to relearn how to walk. In my mind, I’m always there with him. I even push the wheelchair.


Now that’s love.

Puffy, Streaky, and Awkwardly Happy. (Misadventures in getting hitched)

When this wedding is over I am soooooo going to Paris. Actually, that’s not true. We can’t do the honeymoon yet (we need to save for it and I don’t have a break from teaching until next summer) but I’m starting to see the point of a vacation after the chaos of the wedding. Most of the wedding planning has been an exercise in communication AKA walking through a mine field. I’m trying to include the Moms in decisions, and sorta made a big error there this week. Trying to make sure Kealoha has a wedding that represents him and me and our values and our sense of humor and is respectful and….Aw, man. It’s exhausting.

This week, though, was actually fun, even though Kealoha is battling a migraine that makes him all squinty-eyed and a little morose. Still, he plowed through it.

On Wednesday afternoon, I got my hair done. I asked for highlights and requested that they not look steaky. I said I was getting engagement pictures, and I wanted to look all auburn sexy. When she was done with my hair, it basically looked exactly as it had when I came in…only STREAKY. Dammit. It was too late for me to do anything.

I ran home. Got dressed. Kealoha was in the basement with a slight fever and his shirt off, panting or something. (Migraine, I’m telling you.) So I got things ready for the engagement photos. We planned it outdoors and it was a beautiful day until the photographer got here and it started pouring. And I never did lose the weight I wanted to. I pretty much look puffy.

We did the awkward poses while Kealoha tried to keep his eyes open (hard to do with a migraine) and I tried to suck in my gut while looking deep into his eyes and smiling. I’ll tell you more about this experience, but I’ll wait til I can show the pictures. In short, I’m bloated-looking, streaky, and awkwardly happy. Just perfect for a picture above our fireplace. That will be there FOREVER. * sigh *


Then, oh THEN, we had our tasting at the JW. They’ve never done an hor d’oeurvres wedding before, so the staff seemed excited. They led us into the belly of the JW, through back hallways. I was wearing really tall sandals and I was hoping I didn’t fall and break my foot. Again. Then they led us into the kitchen and into the chefs’ office, where a table was set up just for us. There was some general awkward conversation with the JW event “Dream Maker” and the woman in charge of the running of the wedding. Then they brought out the food.


I have to say, I’m damned excited. It’s soooo good. The foodie in me was delighted. The mushroom soup is creamy and umami is probably lurking there (but I still don’t understand what that is). I ate everything in front of us, and some of Kealoha’s. It’s probably why I’m all puffy still. He tried the mai tai, made some educated corrections, and the second mai tai was perfect. They also mixed us a mojito. So divine. Our dessert is a mini dessert buffet. We nixed the flourless chocolate cake and replaced it with a cupcake. It’s okay. The truffle is pure decadence…and I actually licked my crème brulee bowl.

I don’t care what I looked like, licking the bowl with my florid face and streaky hair. Kealoha could barely see me with his eyes pinched closed, and his opinion is the only one I care about anyway.

So. Next week. Back to teaching, narrating (abridged book) and more wedding details. The Moms are working on cocktail tables and centerpieces and I’m trying to stick to a no wheat, veggie loaded diet. Muther humper. But in a little over thirty days, Kealoha and I will be hitched, and all of this stress will be far away. We won’t be in Paris, but we’ll be one step closer.

And I have all those appetizers to look forward to.

I Feel Dirty -- OR-- How I Was Just Emasculated By The Florist

You know the term ‘penis envy’? What’s the female equivalent of that? Whatever it is, I feel like I just experienced it.  And it happened at the florist’s. I was totally just emasculated, and felt a deep feeling of Penis Envy, although not for a bigger penis (or any penis at all for that matter). No. What I felt was like a total loser for not having a bigger budget and getting bigger flowers. Or at least more expensive ones. Rat bastards.

Kealhoa and I want to have a good party, but we’re putting most of the budget into the food and alcohol and the really great location (The JW Marriott). I really didn’t want to spend a fortune on flowers. As pretty as they are, they’re a suck of money. They look pretty but you can’t eat or drink them and they die in a few days. I want people happily full, drinking till they’re dancing and stupid, and celebrating in a great place. So I decided to cut back on the flower budget. Surely I should be able to get a decent bouquet for my sister and me for a couple of hundred dollars…and buy some flowers to put in the centerpieces. It’ll all be classy and sophisticated and save money for the more important things (like flourless chocolate cake).

Today I walked into the “Appointment Only” florist and should’ve known by that sign alone that I was out of my league.

I entered a brick building/warehouse and opened the door to a plushly decorated waiting room. I immediately encountered a Future Bride and her Floral Consultant. The Future Bride was about 22 with tiny perky breasts (from what I could see), wearing a silky skirt and shirt, hair in a happy-horse-like ponytail, and perfectly arched eyebrows and makeup. I was wearing old jeans, a gray t-shirt, and I haven’t washed my hair because it still has yesterday’s style and looks 60% decent. The Floral Consultant was in gray wool pants and a bright green cardigan. I have a feeling it was cashmere.

She was talking to the Future Bride about the furniture they could bring to the event and how she can have a buffet of pies and smores and her fresh apple cider…and I thought “Man, I want a buffet of pies”. Then they started to talk about all the flowers and decorations and I experienced a deep pang of what can only be Penis Envy only I was envying the Future Bride’s youth, dress size, and bottomless checkbook.

I met my consultant and told her that I was looking for two bouquets and maybe some flowers for the centerpieces. Then I told her my budget. There was a slight pause, an inhalation of breath and then she turned and looked longingly at the other Future Bride as if to say “I so wish we were besties”. She controlled herself then said “Well, what about boutonnieres?”

“Yeah,” I said, feeling like I was developing a slight rash or something. “The guys really don’t want those.”

Her face contracted as if she’d just swallowed a piece of glass. “Ah. Really. Well, I've never heard of that.”

"Yep. Well. Golly. Uh..." I responded.

The whole meeting took ten minutes and I left with her promise that they would get back to me with an estimate (in about a week). As I left, another Future Bride came in with her Even Planner. They were actually in matching outfits.

Somehow I crossed over into some freaky alternate universe and/or a Twilight Zone episode. That is sooooo not where I belong.

Thank god we’re tasting mai tais today. That’s something I can handle, without feeling like a Flower Loser.

The Trouble With Directions

A Conversation between Kealoha and me.


ME: So, your mom will be here soon. We’re driving to Binder Zoo. I want to drive but what if she wants to drive? I mean, will it be okay? Will she go too fast? What kind of a driver is she?

KEALOHA: If you’re asking if she’ll kill the kids, no, she won’t kill the kids. You should let her drive.

ME: Wait. Are you saying she’s a better driver than me?

(Pause as KEALOHA considers how to deftly answer the minefield question.)

KEALOHA: She knows what North and South is and knows where she’s going. You just had to ask me which way to turn to go South.

ME: I hate directions. Why do they have to use directions? They’re stupid. Why don’t they just use left and right? I know left and right.

KEALOHA: Directions are easier.

(I pause as I try to explain.)

ME: Look at me. I’m facing North, okay?


(I turn a quarter-step to my right.)

ME: Okay. Now I’m facing North again.

(I turn another quarter-step.)

ME: And when I turn again, look! This is me, facing North. See? Wherever I turn, I’m facing North! That’s a problem. That’s why I don’t like directions. Wait. When I first said I was facing North, was that really North?

(KEALOHA can’t answer me because he’s too busy laughing at me. He does nod his head though.)

ME: Weird.


*I did actually end up driving, but only because I'd told K's mom I was going to and I had the car seats. I think she probably would've been a better driver and gotten us there a whole lot faster.*

How about a naked wedding?

So the muther humping dresses I ordered don't fit. I'd like to blame the company I ordered them from, but I think instead I'll blame my genetics. When people ask me my nationality, I usually say, I'm not sure but we were a people who birthed babies and carried heavy objects. Hence my hips. And, apparently, my ENORMOUS ribcage. If I wear a cape for a wedding, no one will know that the blasted thing won't close and I can give up my impossible dream of trying to diet myself into thin-dom. I am not thin. I'm no Princess Kate. I'm possibly TWO Princess Kates sharing the same body. Yeah. Each one of my legs is a Princess Kate.

I'm not bemoaning being fat. I know I'm not fat...but searching for a wedding dress is bringing up every single insecurity I've ever had in my entire life over everything.

(Sometimes, a girl needs hyperbole.)

My future mother-in-law is coming over in a few minutes to take my enormous hips out to find a dress. I envision much crying to come. Why is this so hard? Why is it hard to find a dress that is flattering to a woman with hips and knockers? Huh? I ask you, why is it hard to find a dress for a WOMAN, a dress that doesn't look like a mumu, or like I can hide midgets under my skirt, or a dress that is so tight I can't breathe or if I want to breathe then I have to remove some ribs?

This shouldn't be so hard.

If this doesn't work, then I'm sending out new invitations to everyone. They will read as follows:

Please Join Kealoha And Tanya for their Clothing Optional Nuptials. Please note, they will not serve hot food or drinks to cut down on possibilities of burns. They will also not offer a limbo contest (for obvious reasons).

On second thought, if I don't find a dress, maybe I'll just paint one on. The wedding is during Art Prize after all. Maybe we'll make the top ten and win a big prize. Maybe even a trip to Paris!!

*sigh* Let me have my fantasies, please.