Trapped in Paradise – the DC Edition

Part travel blog, part philosophical musings. All tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness.


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We’re having a White Christmas, dammit!

It’s early November, which means by now you’ve figured out that you should have hung up your sleigh bells, like, yesterday.

From shoeboxblog.com

From shoeboxblog.com

The funny thing about living in a place like Hawaii is that they try really, really hard to make it seem like Christmastime in the islands is just like Christmastime anywhere else in America. It’s always struck me as kind of hilarious – generally speaking, the holiday season is full of awesome things like presents, cookies, fun decorations, gingerbread spiced lattes, and so on. It’s also full of not-always-so-fun things like snow, subzero temperatures, iced windshields. The holidays are the peak tourist time in Hawaii for a reason: people come here to escape the extreme cold!

If you close your eyes, turn around three times, and do a headstand while smoking a joint, it's kind of like Christmas in New York.

If you close your eyes, turn around three times, and do a headstand while smoking a joint, it’s kind of like Christmas in New York.

I took this picture last year in the courtyard of the Ala Moana shopping center. Forgive the blurriness, but hopefully you can make out the Rockefeller-sized Christmas tree surrounded by white foamy flurries that are supposed to be “snow.” This brings up so many questions, like “are people here so desperate for snow that they’re putting Palmolive in their dishwashers and blowing the resulting white bubbly mess around?” and “is this supposed to make me think of winter, because it’s 80 degrees out,” and “where did that tree even come from, anyway?!” Bonus: I’m pretty sure I took this picture a couple days before Halloween. Hawaii wants everyone to know that no matter what the copycats tell you, they did fake winter first!

Then again, fake winter might actually become a thing thanks to global climate change

Then again, fake winter might actually become a thing thanks to global climate change

What I don’t understand is why. If they’re catering to out-of-towners they’re missing the mark. People don’t come to Hawaii expecting Christmas lights on evergreens; you can get that anywhere. What they want is lights on palm trees, Santa Claus in board shorts and flippy-floppies, and snowmen made out of sand, on the beach, drinking a mai tai. If the tourists wanted a traditional freezing-ass-cold Christmas, they would have gone to Wisconsin or someplace.

Who needs cheese curds when you have spam and warm weather?

Who needs cheese curds when you have spam and warm weather? Our hot chicks wear hula skirts!

But whatever. I guess it’s true what they say, people always want what they don’t have, the grass is always greener, etc. And truthfully I admit to being a little sad about missing out on a Hawaiian Christmas this year, writing this from Virginia where it was a balmy 45 degrees when I woke up this morning. But the sun’s out, so that counts for something, right?

Mele Kalikimaka, bitches! (photo credit: The Florida Standard)

Mele Kalikimaka, brah! (photo credit: The Florida Standard)

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Halloweentime in Hawaii

Get your Halloween game face on!

Get your Halloween game face on!

After quite a bit of thinking, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that there’s no way I can keep this blog going now that I’m no longer living in Hawaii. I’m really disappointed because I’ve really enjoyed writing Trapped in Paradise. However, because my departure from the islands was rather abrupt, I’ve still got a few Hawaii topics up my sleeve that I’d wanted to write about, so I intend to keep it going until the end of the year. In the meantime, I invite you to check out my new blog The Skeptical Sailor, where I’m writing about my adventures living aboard a sailboat.

I REALLY hope this isn't in my future (Shoutout to Teen Girl Squad!)

I REALLY hope this isn’t in my future (Shoutout to Teen Girl Squad!)

Without further ado, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the extravaganza that is Halloween in Hawaii. I know, it may seem a bit early, and a lot of us haven’t even decided on our costumes yet. However, if you’re living in Hawaii and you don’t have a costume yet, you’re already behind. In the islands, Christmastime has nothing on Halloweentime!

Blurred Lines, indeed. Poor "Miley."

Blurred Lines, indeed. Poor “Miley.”

Oh, and your costume had better be a good one. Halloween is NO JOKE here, as I found out the hard way during my first season. I’d scored a ticket to the famous Crazy Sexy Ghoul party, and put together a cheap “angel of death” costume consisting of an old corset from the bottom of my closet and some cheap black feathered wings I’d gotten from Amazon for $20. At the time I’d been working the night shift for two months straight, so didn’t really put a lot of thought into dressing up. It was a decision I immediately regretted upon entering the party.

Put to shame by a bunch of stormtroopers. Lesson learned!

Budget costuming lesson learned – I was put to shame by a bunch of stormtroopers!

Martians!

…and Martians!

...and Mortal Kombaters!

…and Mortal Kombaters!

...and the couple in the background who had constructed samurai costumes entirely out of Guinness cans! (Sadly this is the ONLY picture I can find of them. They won Halloween!)

…and the couple in the background who had constructed samurai costumes entirely out of beer cans! I’m so sad that this is the ONLY picture I can find of them.

People plan for months the costumes they’re going to wear, and come up with the most creative and outrageous (in a good way) ideas. I wish I’d had half of their creativity! I mean, the “yip yip” aliens from Sesame Street? Who even thinks of that?! So, to summarize Halloween in Hawaii Lesson One: Come early, and come prepared.

The next year I stepped it up and went as Batgirl. Meanwhile, my fiance wore the world's creepiest Superman costume that he'd bought in Japan.

The next year we stepped it up and went as Batgirl and the World’s Creepiest Superman. (He bought the costume in Japan.)

Lesson Two: Prepare your liver for total annihilation. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but not by much because Halloweentime is basically nonstop partying. Last year I went to no less than five huge events and then spent the entire month of November detoxing. I like to think that after years in naval aviation I can handle my alcohol just fine, but I was still a bit relieved by the time the 31st was finally over.

Yeah...

Yeah…

Even so, if you love Halloween and enjoy a good party or several, October in Hawaii is a good time to visit. Bonus because it’s an off-tourist season, so you’ll only run into a quarter of the world’s population instead of, say, half.

So, for events: unfortunately, the Crazy Sexy Ghoul party I mentioned isn’t happening this year (which might actually be a good thing, because over the years it had gotten too big. It was the least enjoyable of the parties we had attended last year just because there were so many people it was hard to move, and we were waiting in line for over 45 minutes just to get drinks.) However, I’ve heard there’s a similar party happening at Longhi’s in Ala Moana Center on the 18th called Boos Booze and Boobs (silly name, but at least they’re raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.) Also on the 18th is Zombie Crawl in Chinatown, which is exactly what it sounds like. The Honolulu Museum of Art is hosting Nightmare on Beretania Street on the 31st, in place of their monthly Art After Dark (where you drink wine, look at art, and pretend to be cultured.) All in all there’s no shortage of parties, from haunted train rides at the Dole Plantation to multiple haunted houses scattered around the island, and probably at least one more giant Chinatown block party. Honolulu Pulse a pretty good round-up of what’s going on.

Happy Halloweentime! Make a good costume and don’t drink and drive!


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Escape from Honolulu!

So I’ve been dreading logging into wordpress after such a long absence, to talk to what few readers (if any) might still be around. I have no excuse other than that life got crazy for a couple of months… okay, it got completely uprooted, and in fact I’m going to have to change the scope of my blog since I am no longer in Hawaii!

Hell yeah!

Hell yeah!

The tl;dr version: I got out of the military after ten years, and promptly relocated to Virginia so I could move in with my fiance on his sailboat. The ridiculousness of getting out of the Navy just so I could live on a boat has not escaped me. 🙂

And now I can live out my dream of being a pirate! (I kid. Sort of.)

And now I can live out my dream of being a pirate! (I kid. Sort of.)

The longer version: As one might guess from reading my posts, I hated being stuck in Hawaii but had been trying to make the best of it. My orders had me stationed there until the summer of 2015, after which I had been planning on getting out of the military and heading to the east coast where my fiance is stationed. That felt way too far in the future, so last summer I submitted a request to get out a year early, even though I knew that the odds of Big Navy approving it were slim to none. You see, it costs the government an absurd amount of money to station someone in Hawaii – they’re not just relocating the servicemember, but also their families if they have them, all their household goods, their car, and then paying around an extra $1000/month as a cost of living allowance to compensate for $6 gallons of milk and what-have-you. Because of this, there’s actually a rule that states that the minimum time one must spend stationed in Hawaii is three years, no matter what. (Contrast to only one or two years for almost every other duty station.) I’d been informed that this “three year minimum” rule was infallible and impossible to waiver… but extensive research pointed me to a little-known DOD instruction with a loophole I might be able to use (DODINST 1315.18, paragraph E3.7.2.2, in case there are any military members reading this who might also be looking for an early escape.) I figured I had nothing to lose, said “what the hell” and rolled the dice anyway.

Meanwhile, I continued on my not-so-merry way working at PACOM, doing my best to enjoy the island life while trying to stay sane at my inane job. I’d found I’d been basically blacklisted since it was now common knowledge that I was planning on leaving the military, and as a result had to deal with being given all the crap jobs and menial collateral duties so that the “career” junior officers could do the “important” work. Eh, whatever. I started this blog in January as an outlet to vent my frustrations with being stuck here, which I enjoyed immensely. Meanwhile, life at work got even more ridiculous, so much so that I had to put blogging on hold while I dealt with things. (It’s another long story I’ll save for another time – for now, I’ll only say that if anyone is contemplating a career in naval intelligence, please do your research so you know what you’re getting into! The work can be rewarding, but the management and the people… oh dear.)

And then, a miracle happened! In May, right when things were especially bleak, I got a call from my boss – my request for early separation had been approved! I would be free  a year early! It had been so long that I’d figured the request had gotten thrown out long before. Yet once it was done it was crazy how quickly it all happened – I had less than two months to take all the required “how to be a civilian” classes, get my stuff packed up and shipped back to the mainland, and do all the necessary outprocessing before my terminal leave started. Painful? Hellacious! But worth it in the end, because I’m now sitting in a coffee shop in Virginia typing this, enjoying being free at last to live wherever I want, with the ability to color my hair something ridiculous, while getting to go home to my wonderful fiance after two years of doing the long-distance thing.

May this now be a thing of the past *fingers crossed*

May sights like this be a thing of the past

So what’s next? There’s a lot on the distant horizon, like the wedding and graduate school. But for now, for the first time in ten years I actually have time to pursue some things that I had been wanting to do – specifically writing, which I plan to do much more of. I hope to continue blogging, although as I mentioned I’ll have to change the title now that I’ve escaped from paradise after all. I left the relative security of military life to live on a sailboat, for crying out loud! There are many more adventures to come, I believe, and I hope I can continue to entertain readers who manage to find their way here during an afternoon of bored internet surfing. 🙂 Please come visit again soon, as I hope to have the revamped blog up and running shortly!

Coming soon - Trapped in Paradise II: I'm on a Motherf'in Boat!

Coming soon – Trapped in Paradise II: Jobless with Pink Hair on a Motherf”in Boat!

Cheers! ❤

Brit “Crazy B”


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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

So I went to make coffee this morning, and when I started to fill the water reservoir a ROACH crawled out! Great, now I need to buy a new coffeemaker.

Gross! (Picture from Hawaii411.com)

Gross!
(Picture from Hawaii411.com)

Disclaimer 1: The aforementioned cockroach was not the one pictured above, thank goodness. It was of the smaller variety, which are still annoying even though they’re not as scary-looking.

Disclaimer 2: At least cockroaches, while disgusting, aren’t poisonous. My morning definitely could have been worse!

Disclaimer 3: I’m not really going to buy another coffeemaker, that would be a waste of a perfectly good… oh who am I kidding, of course I am.

Anyway, now that it’s springtime and the island is starting to warm up past 65 degrees (sorry, couldn’t resist) that means it’s time for all the island bugs to come out. (Well, more than they already were out.) Hawaii is full of them just like any tropical island, and there’s nothing to do but accept the fact that you’re going to share your home with roaches, ants, and the occasional spider whether you like it or not.

They're here, all right...

Meet your new roommates!

Having lived on both the windward side of Oahu and the drier south side, I can say that I’ve encountered far fewer bugs in my Honolulu apartment than I had in my Kailua dwelling. It definitely helps that I’m living on the 20th floor of a high-rise, so I see even fewer insects than I would if I were living closer to the ground. There are many things I miss about Kailua – the scenery, the small beach town, the gorgeous beaches – but the windward side can keep its giant roaches. I’ve only ever seen small ones in my apartment here in Honolulu, but over there I was killing a huge cockroach every other day. It didn’t matter how clean I kept my place or how pristine my kitchen was, they were everywhere.

Yep.

Yep.

And don’t get me started on the ants. Those little buggers must have the best sense of smell or something, because all it would take was for me to accidentally drop a crumb off the dining room table, and a bit later I’d see a line of ants leading to it. I couldn’t believe how fast they worked! I’m still traumatized by that one time I was in my kitchen in Kailua cutting a pineapple. The phone rang so I put everything down and went to answer it. I was gone for maybe five minutes, but when I came back the knife was covered in ants. It was like something out of a horror movie!

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" may not be a horror movie, but it IS horrible. Close enough!

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” may not be a horror movie, but it IS horrible. Close enough!

One thing about the abundance of bugs on the windward side is that it means there’s also plenty of geckos. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about lizards. (I think they’re cute! I miss having them around.) They can eat the smaller insects, but unfortunately are half the size of the giant cockroaches. Oh well, a little bit of help is always welcome. The only time I’ve been annoyed by the geckos in my house was when they spawned, and my place was overrun by tiny baby geckos. Yes, they were adorable, but they were EVERYWHERE! In the shower, on the counter, on the computer monitor, on the floor (they hadn’t yet learned that they should stay along the wall, and instead would just take off across the room. I don’t know how many I almost stepped on by accident.) I even remember waking up one morning and looking over to see a baby gecko on the pillow staring at me! Had it been watching me sleep? What a weirdo.

At least my pet cat was still living with my mom on the mainland. The last thing I needed was lizard-shaped hairballs.

At least my pet cat was still living on the mainland with my mom. The last thing I needed was lizard-shaped hairballs.

Long story short: there’s no avoiding bugs in Hawaii, unfortunately. But if you live on the dry side, at least you don’t see as many! Just be sure to wear insect repellent when you go hiking, because there’s an abundance of mosquitoes too.


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Block parties and weekday hangovers

I meant to write about this yesterday but I was too hungover to get on my computer, let alone type out a coherent blog post.

The most fashionable dog in Hawaii

The most fashionable dog in Hawaii

This past Monday I partook in the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Chinatown Honolulu. Every now and then Chinatown holds a huge block party where they shut down one or several streets and set up food vendors, live bands, and copious amounts of beer and liquor. (This obviously is geared toward the over 21 crowd and Hawaii is pretty aggressive about carding in general, but that doesn’t stop some parents from bringing their children –  in strollers, even! – to the party. I guess you’re never too young to learn debauchery.) Anyway, these are held on the big “partying” holidays like St. Paddy’s, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, and even some made up holidays like “End of the World Day” aka December 21, 2012, which I also attended. I mean, if the world is going to end you might as well go out in style with 1,000+ of your new friends, right?

I wonder what happened to those guys who spent their life savings only to wake up on December 22 and realize they're broke?

I wonder what happened to those guys who spent their life savings only to wake up on December 22 hungover AND broke?

The block parties can get a little monotonous since the same food vendors, bands, and even some street performers tend to show up. Still, they’re a pretty good time especially if you’re visiting the islands and want to get out of Waikiki for a night. (It’s roughly a $20 cab ride to Chinatown.) I believe St. Patrick’s day is the largest of these parties, although I cannot confirm that these were the same bands and street vendors from Mardi Gras since I was too busy drinking multiple shots of Irish whiskey so that I could hate myself the next morning. That’s the other thing – most of these parties take place regardless of what day of the week it is. Raging on Monday night? Pfffft. You’ve got to start this week out right.

Go home, St. Patrick. You're drunk.

Go home, St. Patrick. You’re drunk.

By the way, I was quite entertained by this article – it made me wonder, how on earth did the legend of St. Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland come about, anyway? Oh well, it makes for a good story… and a good excuse to drink Guinness. See you on Cinco de Mayo!


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Aloha Monday! Also, more chocolate

I feel the need to give a shoutout  to the Matrix/Terminator/Tron/whatever other “computers are running the world” movies out there. My workday got cut short since a transformer or something blew overnight, knocking out the computer networks and phone lines for the entire base. It’s sad that without our computers there was literally nothing we could work on. Nothing at all! The only thing my coworkers and I could do was sit around talking about the Olympic hockey games and flipping out over the thousands of emails that would surely be waiting for us when we came back online. My big accomplishment for the day? Finishing most of the crossword puzzle in this week’s Navy Times. I know people talk about our dependency on computers and that it’s nothing new (see: every five year old carrying around an iPad nowadays) but it’s still crazy seeing it happen. Oh well, at least we got to go home early. Aloha Monday!

Damn you computer! Now I have to go outside in the sun and be social in person!

NO!! Now I have to go outside in the fresh air and TALK to people!

And now for something completely different – this past weekend was the Hawaii Chocolate Festival, meaning I get to keep with the theme of cookies and other goodies that I wrote about last time. I was expecting something not-so-fancy, and went into the Dole Cannery shops thinking “eh, it’s Hawaii, they’ve probably got like two tables set up where they’re giving out pieces of organic chocolate bars.” I was proven wrong by the presence of hula dancers, live music, and rather creative treats that went well beyond bits of plain chocolate (although they had those, too.) Well played, Hawaii.

Tiki's had chocolate-filled spring rolls, complete with ice cream on the side! And here I thought they were only a drinking establishment.

Tiki’s had chocolate-filled spring rolls, complete with ice cream on the side! And here I thought they were only a drinking establishment.

Bacon really DOES make everything better!

Bacon really DOES make everything better!

One of the vendors there was Manoa Chocolate Hawaii, which prides itself on using Hawaii-grown cacao and making the chocolate right there in the shop. And they should be proud, because the end product is quite amazing. I’m a bit of a dark chocolate snob and will stock up on Valrhona bars whenever I go back to the mainland. Now, however, I think I’ve found a place to go if my supply runs out between trips. If you ever find yourself on the windward side of Oahu, I highly recommend stopping by to check them out! Their store is in Kailua, on the second floor of Kailua Square (right above Cinnamon’s, the island-famous restaurant with the awesome red velvet and guava chiffon pancakes.) Also check out the cacao festival in Kailua this weekend!

Chocolate made right in the islands. Oh so delicious.

Chocolate made right in the islands. Oh so delicious.

Finally, I suppose it wouldn’t be a true chocolate festival without something completely weird. When the guy selling this has to continuously run out and tell people “don’t eat it! It’s for your face!” something might be off.

Are you SURE that isn't a jar of nutella?

Are you SURE that isn’t a jar of nutella?

Then again, a chocolate facial could be really good for the pores. Who knows?


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Sugar, spice, and everything nice (okay, chocolate)

It’s Valentine’s Day Eve and I have nothing to give to my valentine, so I’m going to write about chocolate instead.

<3

One of my favorite pastimes is going to the Honolulu Cookie Company and Big Island Candies stores and eating all the samples. Oh, I buy stuff every now and then, so it’s not like I’m not being a complete mooch. But it’s hard not to walk past a cookie store that gives out samples of almost everything they sell and NOT want to go in. It would be rude to refuse them, right?

Stop tempting me with your delicious chocolate!

Stop tempting me with your delicious chocolate!

But in all seriousness, I actually do buy stuff from both of those stores because their gift boxes are perfect to bring to my friends and family whenever I go back to the mainland. Whoever said “you can’t buy love” obviously wasn’t using the correct currency, because everyone loves food, and they will love you for giving it to them. For all you chocoholics, Big Island Candies has these brownie cookies that are pretty much the greatest thing since s’mores were invented. AND in honor of V-day, they currently have limited edition red velvet brownie cookies! I’m seriously considering buying a box to send back home. (Yeah right. If I bought them I’d totally eat them all.)

Why yes, I would like ALL the cookies

Why yes, I would like ALL the cookies

Big Island sells shortbread cookies, but they’re not quite as good as the Honolulu Cookie Company’s. They have chocolate-dipped cookies as well as fruity island flavors like pineapple and lilikoi that are always a huge hit with my family, especially my youngest brother who’s weird and hates chocolate. If you’re craving a taste of the islands or just want some delicious brownie or shortbread cookies for yourself, both of those stores ship to the mainland as well as internationally.

And with that, I wish you a happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the holiday and the ongoing Winter Olympics, I leave you with a video of Russian figure skating champion Evgeny Plushenko skating to “Sex Bomb.” You’re welcome.