Yesterday after posting photos of my Hawaii hair, I asked: What is your city doing to your hair? And the answer was: Cute things.
Is today a good hair day? You can still play along on Twitter and Instagram, just use the hashtag #cityhair.
My mantra about coexisting peacefully with sea creatures goes like this: “I do not look like food to anything underwater. I do not look like food to anything underwater.” Comforting because it’s true. Except that the day before this dive I was bitten by a Humuhumunukunuku’puaa, which is Hawaii’s national fish. It super-bit me and made me bleed, presumably because I was hanging out over its turf. Sorry Humuhumunukunuku’puaa, my bad. And thank you for the reminder that sometimes animals bite you precisely because they don’t recognize you. Thank you for that reminder mere hours before I got in the water with fish the size of houses:
The dive did not go as expected.
I got open-water certified about eight months ago for my birthday, but I haven’t been diving since, so I was eager to get back in the water. A while ago, Liz Stanley posted about her night dive with Manta Rays in Hawaii, and I added it to my Life List without knowing much about it. I booked the dive, and then watched the creepy Skeletor video.
So I was a little hesitant, but by the time I got on the boat I was downright uneasy. Eight months between dives is a long time for a newbie. I didn’t remember much about my equipment, and I was going by myself, so I wouldn’t know my dive buddy. Plus, I’d never been on a night dive, but I’d heard there’s darkness involved. The only thing more vast than the sea is darkness. Everyone knows monsters like to hang out in the dark and in the sea. That’s Monsters 101.
The boat ride was gorgeous and we waited aboard for sunset. We were given dive lights, and told that we would sit on the bottom shining our lights upward, while snorkelers floated above shining their lights down. The mantas swim in large looping arcs in the space between, doing backflips to scoop up the plankton that’s attracted to all that light.
I was introduced to my dive partner, Chris, a few minutes before we jumped in the water. She was an affable Australian, and because I find Australians and their mortality-awareness comforting, I took this as an auspicious sign.
Then the wind picked up.
The water was bashing against the shore and shooting spray into the air when the dive master lined us up. We jumped in to the choppy water, and suffice it to say I was not chill. I was unsure of myself already, and the rough water only made me more anxious. There was a slight drag on my air line, which made my panicky breaths more arduous, and surprise! It was dark.
There was a strong current underwater that I’d never experienced before, sort of like swimming upstream in a river. When we got down to the bottom, we were supposed to settle into a seated position to shine our lights upward, but the current made it tough to stay in one place. The dive master showed us how to hug a rock underwater, but several of us weren’t strong enough to hold on.
I was freaked out, getting knocked around by the current, battling to find a means of staying put without cutting my hands on the rock or bashing my tank into the reef. At one point the dive master approached me a wrote on his slate, “Lay down better.” Pro tip, dive master. I refrained from flashing him the most unequivocal of hand signals. Mostly because I was using my hands to hold on to a rock under which something bitey was surely sequestered.
In the midst of all the struggling, I managed to look up a few times to see the rays swooping through beams of light and the bubbles floating up from our respirators. Those few moments were breathtaking — so alien and peaceful. But after a few minutes the dive master signaled that we should surface because the situation underwater was too rough. He apologized for not being better able to control the sea, then offered us a chance to snorkel, because at this point the surface had calmed.
We climbed back in, and that was when everything went magic. The water was glowing from all the light, and the Mantas were huge swooping shadows cutting through the beams. One of the rays started backflipping, circling closer to me each time he looped upward. I was sure he would touch me, I could feel the water washing against me from his wings and I couldn’t stop laughing.
I laughed every time he approached, and my mask would fill with water. I’d clear the mask just as he was looping up again, and then I’d laugh and my mask would fill.
Gorgeous. Do this, my friends. It will make you happy.
So this is (almost) everything I packed in my carry-on for the press trip I took to Oahu. There was also a photo of me in a bikini that I took with my cell phone the hotel bathroom mirror. As you might imagine, it was a little… much. So this is everything I packed for four days in Hawaii except the photo of me in a blue bikini with ruffles. If you’ve already seen me naked, I will totally send that to you. Otherwise, use your imagination.
For trips to warm places, I try to pack mostly one-pieces (dresses, rompers) because they pack smaller and you don’t have to waste any time worrying about whether you’re packing stuff that matches everything else.
I wore this dress to travel, with a yellow slip underneath so my skin doesn’t show through the perforations. It’s poly, so you can pretty much roll it into a ball and it doesn’t wrinkle, and it also unzips all the way down the front, so you can layer it over things in interesting ways.
Here’s a full shot of the dress, which I also wore on our tour of the Turtle Bay Resort where we were staying. I look so happy here because the dress cost six bucks. I’m genetically unable to shut up about that.
I wore this to the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the dress is Urban Outfitters, and the sweater is thrifted. I’ve since shrunk the dress to half its original size, so look for it as a shirt in future posts.
This romper is by a San Francisco designer whose brand I forget, of course. (She’s in the Mission, tiny shop on one of the numbered side streets between Valencia and Dolores. Anyone?) Anyway, it’s an oddly functional piece of clothing. I can belt it, wear it with tights and a long sleeve shirt, add something with a collar to switch it up. It’s become a bit of a uniform, but ultimately it’s a romper. For romping.
There, that’s better.
This is me in a ruffly dress from H&M, wielding a machete. Machetes are apparently still a thing in Hawaii.
Here’s the full dress with one of the vintage cardigans I brought. I used that sweater constantly, by the way. It was warm, but the breeze at night was a little chilly and there was some rain while we were there.
To save space, I try to pack jammies that can double as clothes if I need them. This is an Old Navy tank, and a pair of workout shorts from American Apparel. Can you imagine how bad the aforementioned bikini shot has to be if I’m willing to post this? Exactly.
Beach coverup! I wore this Urban Outfitters romper over my swimsuit when we headed down for surf lessons at Turtle Bay.
I got the sunglasses at a flea market. They’re made for shooting, and they feel heavenly because of those little side shades. Our trip lead, Mike, said they make me look like a 70-year-old man. I told him to get off my lawn.
American Apparel high-waisted side zip shorts and a random transparent shirt I’ve had forever. This shirt is an awesome suit coverup, so I wore it kayaking because I knew it would fit under the life jacket.
(Aside! Holy crap, have you ever seen a sea turtle? These sea kayaks had glass bottoms, so you could see them swimming around, and I didn’t expect to be so affected by them. One looked right up at me, and it was like I could feel my heart beating in my mouth. Please put “see a sea turtle” on your Life List.)
This is my American Apparel bikini top, which I bought for a trip to Jamaica. The bottom is super high-waisted, which is convenient if you have stretch marks from baby havin’.
You can also cover stretch marks with a lightweight scuba skin, which is excellent for snorkeling. And sexy times.
Thanks to the Kahuku Land Farms Fruit Stand in Hawaii, I’ve officially hit 100 fruits. Milestone! Bam.
I told Mike, our trip lead, how close I was to being centufruitarian, and he went out of his way to find new fruits to try. Thanks to Mike, and the rest of the Hawaii Five Oh team for being so patient and enthusiastic with my quest.
These are the fruits that pushed us past the 100 mark:
When I asked the woman at the market what Chicos tasted like, she said, “brown sugar.” She had a bit of an accent, so I thought I’d misunderstood her.
She was exactly right. They’re soft inside, the dominant flavor is brown sugar, and they even seem to have little crunch granules in the flesh.
It was like eating a baked apple plucked directly from the tree.
More tiny snack fruits, hooray! These bananas are about as big as my palm, maybe a third of the size of a banana you’d find at the grocery store, and much, much tastier.
The ice cream banana is light and creamy, apt! The apple banana has a pleasant tartness that offsets the sweetness.
Both were fun to eat because you can shove the whole thing in your mouth, and then walk around beating your chest like King Kong. Which I recommend.
No. 103 Mountain Apples
These are a lot like Jamaican Apples, only smaller and tangier.
They’re less dense than a conventional apple, the crunch is more like a really crisp, seedless cucumber. Mmm. Quenchy.
This Friday, we’ll celebrate the century mark with a roundup of my top ten favorite fruits so far. You cannot wait. Fruit nerds, unite!
Trip lead: “Do you want me to sign you up for the surf lesson?”
My brain: “Uhhhhhhhh. I burn pretty easily and doesn’t the reef have a billion kinds of bacteria that will kill you if it cuts you plus I had knee surgery so it sometimes hurts to stand from a kneeling position that’s what she said and what if I don’t know the surfing etiquette and I smack into someone from a prominent family and a surfer kid from the wrong side of the reef defends me and I’m accidentally the catalyst for bloodshed which sharks can smell in the water from like 100 miles away?”
My mouth: “Sure.”
My brain: “… Bring to me all of the rum.”
There are three hours between the decision to surf and the actual surfing, so I order a Mai Tai with my burger. And then they bring me another one. Probably because I ask for it. When the trip lead comes to get us, I order a glass of wine and drink it like it’s a beer can with two holes punched in the bottom.
By the time we make it down to the lesson, I am not drunk per se. I am illuminated. I am prepared to be at one with the hungry sea. I am no longer considering faking a seizure to get out of this. Because that would be wrong.
On land, each of us tries our surfing stance in turn.
OK, this is going fine. I am a land surfing champion. Maybe this will be okay.
While paddling I resist the impulse to lay down on the board and take a nap. So far so good.
This! This is working out! I am on my feet on my first try! The ocean and I are at one!
Whoa. The hell, Ocean? You’re kind of being a dick.
But whatever. I almost stood up! I roll off into the waves feeling okay about it, and I’m relieved to find that surfacing is no big deal. That is until the board cracks into my nose and throws a handful of glitter across my vision.
OW! Et tu, Surfboard? Ow.
Well, now that I’m insta-sober, let’s try this again.
Oof. Again the ocean betrays me; the surfboard greets my nose with enthusiasm a second time. And then a third.
Finally, I tell the instructor that I’m getting clobbered and he says, “Whoa. Really? That almost never happens. Wait for your cord to get taut so you know the board isn’t near you, and then surface with your hands above your head.”
This absolutely works. I wait for the cord around my ankle to go taut, then give a kick… and bash my foot into the reef. Mothra! Fockra! It’s like stubbing your toe against shards of glass.
As I injudiciously paddle out for a fifth wave, the booze completely clears my system. My foot and face throb with every heartbeat. I decide to paddle in, passing a four-year-old local and her dad on their way out. “Oh!” I say. “She’s so awesome!” “Thanks!” her dad says. But the girl just paddles toward me scowling with concentration. As she passes, I hear her yell back at me, “PADDLE! PADDLEPADDLEPADDLEPADDLE!!”
Right. Thanks, kid.
(Thanks also to the Hans Hedemann Surf School at Turtle Bay Resort for the mortifying photos. No really, you guys. Mahalo.)
Just added four more things to the Mighty Life List:
Hear 1,000 new songs.
I want to know more about music, and I want to find easier, more automatic ways to incorporate it into my life. It feels like I have to go through ten steps to find a song I want to hear and listen to it on a device with worthwhile sound quality. I miss my record player. Plus, I’m beginning to feel like I’ve run out of fresh tunes to hum, which feels gross. Fortunately, I already have some friends enlisted to help.
Wear a sequined bikini to Carnival in Trinidad.
This scares the crap out of me. The last time I wore a bikini in public I was sixteen and blinded an entire small town in Mexico. Thank goodness for rum and Karen Walrond.
Go on a night dive with Manta Rays in Hawaii.
Liz wrote that post and it sounded so magic. As does almost everything about the ocean. It’s like visiting outer space.
Make a font.
I’ve always loved hand-painted signs and studying handwriting, and it seems like making a font would be so satisfyingly meticulous. Of course, the urge has only gotten stronger working in the same office with the Typekit team all day.
What have you added to your list recently?