that one day we got engaged.

five years ago, i met a man rock climbing in maple creek canyon in utah. we happened to both be going to kentucky for a month. and then, i followed him back to australia to see if it was something more.

five years later, he dropped to one knee and held out a ring. i’m a sucker for a good love story, and so far i’ve been given all the makings for a romcom box office hit (including a cute foreign accent). 

but for now, i’ll just skip to the engagement proposal story so i can start directing people to my blog instead of leaving out more and more lovey-dovey details every time someone asks. and so that in the future, i’ll actually remember the details…

a few months ago, a longtime beloved festival (the event that i work for) attendee emailed me asking if he could propose to his girlfriend on the stage at this year’s festival. after asking my boss, i realized there was no way in hell i was going to be able to convince him to halt the main music lineup for a random patron to takeover the microphone and share his love with 3,000 other patrons. (he’s not quite the romantic that i am.) i gave up on that idea but was committed to helping this man find the space to propose at the festival.

once onsite the second weekend of august, i met with him and helped plan a time for him to get on the microphone at the yoga pavilion. on saturday afternoon, following a great ecstatic dance set, he professed his love in front of her family, friends, and a small dance floor full of other attendees. 

i stood on a hill overlooking the proposal feeling pretty proud of myself and basking in their love. i walked back down the forested pathway to the office getting drunk on chlorophyll and glowing from their love. everyone loves love.

when i returned to the office, i told my boss how i had just facilitated my proposal perfectly. he looked confused. he asked me where. i told him at the yoga pavilion. he said, no no, i think we should do it at the stage. then i was confused. i thought you said we couldn’t do it at the stage. 

all the sudden, he realized i was talking about the guy who emailed a few months ago. he changed his tune and gave me a high five, finally joining me in my pridefulness. then, he started hounding me about organizing the staff photo. he had been bugging me about it all weekend. typically, it was not a big deal and a pretty last minute thing. we would just pull as many people as we could to some discreet location sometime on sunday. 

this year, he said he wanted it on sunday afternoon at the stage right before manoj’s dj set, so all the staff would stay and dance a bit to his set afterwards. (manoj is a good friend of many beloved staff.)

cool. sounds good. staff photo planned. now stop bugging me about it.

back to the grind. i run around nonstop during the festival. as the general manager, i have most of the answers, so people ask me all of the questions. my mind has zero time to think about anything unrelated to the festival.

i made the announcement for the staff photo over the radio on sunday morning. all call, all call. the staff photo will be at 3:15pm at the stage. be there and bring your smiles.

3:15pm came quickly, and i rounded up all the admin staff in the office to head down to the stage. a couple of my coworkers alerted me that it was pretty hot outside (since i had not left the office since breakfast) and encouraged me to take off the black leggings i had on under my green dress. 

okay, leggings off. now let’s go.

i asked our security manager to borrow his megaphone, and we headed to the stage. 

it was the middle of the final day of the festival and the dance floor was packed. all the staff gathered together and waited for the current musician to finish their set. i continually glanced around the audience trying to figure out who was missing. which staff members would i need to radio individually and remind them to get their butts down to the stage for the staff photo?

i didn’t see ryan, so i texted him to make sure he was on his way. 

the music ended, and we all congregated in front of the stage on the dance floor. several of our festival photographers were there to help capture the moment. megaphone in hand, i directed everyone to squeeze in closer and move to get out of the sun. eventually, i slide into the front row, and the staff photo was complete.

we all hugged and started to clear out. i said thanks to everyone and thought we were heading back to work.

but, then my boss announced that he wanted to do department photos…

my thoughts: department photos? you’ve got to be kidding me. everyone has so much work to do. we never do department photos. there are over 20 departments. this is going to take forever. ughhh… 

he took the megaphone out of my hand and called out for the operations department to gather. (i guess the boss always gets what he wants.) the operations crew (ryan’s department) gathered on the dance floor. one photo down, a million more to go…

next up, they called the admin department (my department). i started walking out and all the operations crew pushed everyone else back. 

i yelled out something dumb like “oh now we’re doing couples’ photos?!”

but instead of an admin department photo, ryan and i were left alone in a small space on the dance floor encircled by hundreds of my fellow staff and thousands of festival patrons. (the view behind us looked something like this…)

he had changed out of his filthy work clothes and put on a nice button down aloha shirt. he dropped to one knee and held out a ring. 

holy. shit.

my hands went straight over my mouth as shock and awe overtook my body. it is hard to surprise me (especially when we have discussed marriage and i knew it was coming), but he did. 

it was too loud to hear over the audience’s cheers, but i think ryan did actually ask me to marry him at some point, and i am pretty sure i said yes.

our friends from hawaii adorned us with a handmade lei and flower crown, and the operations crew gifted us with champagne to uncork over the crowd.

manoj’s dj set began and the endless group hugs turned into joyous dancing. what a perfect sunday afternoon.

and all this time, i had no idea that i was planning my own proposal. that my boss and boyfriend were scheming to make me the center of attention. that thousands of patrons would high five us the rest of the weekend. that my engagement party would have 3,000 people.

apparently some people are allowed to stop everything for a declaration of love in the middle of the dance floor at beloved festival, and i am deeply grateful to be one of those people. thanks elliot. (i am also grateful that my gals made me take off my leggings in preparation for photos that will be shared forever.)

thank you to everyone who made it happen. to everyone who kept it a secret. and to everyone who continually supports us in our relationship and in our love. 

it is not easy living a love that involves friends and families and jobs and homes across two different countries that are separated by a giant ocean, but we have done it. we will continue to do it. and it is absolutely worth it.

we love you. we love each other. now let’s plan a wedding… or two…


p.s. i am sure i left out a few amazing details that ryan will alert me to after reading this. i’ll be sure to edit if he feels i left out anything absolutely essential. he always seems to think i do…

p.p.s. if you’re one of those people who is just dying to see the ring, here is the beautiful one that ryan slid on my finger at the festival.

however, he knew that i have dreamt of a custom ring designed by my friend rosemary for quite some time. so, this is not the forever ring. we will be going through her amazing love story custom ring creation process soon to craft a one-of-a-kind symbol of our relationship. check her out if you’re in the market for jewelry.



i pledge allegiance.

i said the pledge of allegiance today for the first time in a long time. i actually cannot remember the last time i recited the pledge. as the maui county council chair asked everyone to stand and recite it, my heartbeat quickened in fear that i might have forgotten the words, and i’d have to brand myself a shitty american for the rest of my life. but as i put my right hand across my chest, the many years of daily repetition paid off and muscle memory moved my mouth to form all the correct sounds.

i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

i cannot remember the last time i voiced these words. i cannot remember any time where i have actually thought about the words i was voicing.

but today, i heard my voice.

i sat in the maui county council chambers surrounded by women and men there to honor maui resident teresa shook (the women responsible for igniting the women’s march), and i heard my words loud and clear.


just as it would often hit me unexpectedly while dissecting one of the many great poems in my intro to poetry course in college, the words transformed from merely words into actual meaning. especially there in that moment, standing with my palm pressed over my heart in a room full of local government officials and everyday people truly wanting the kind of nation our forefathers pledged.

we are all united. we cannot be divided. we will fight for liberty and justice for all. i pledge my allegiance to this. i have pledged my allegiance to this subconsciously since kindergarten.

but today, i actually took the pledge. and i will take it here again:

i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

img_1102and then i sat back down in my chair and listened to maui county’s councilmen, local residents, and even a german tourist, give their testimonies celebrating teresa shook, celebrating the fact that one facebook post from a retired attorney from a tiny island in the middle of the pacific, could spark a movement. i watched as women and men wiped tears from their eyes, inspired by the powerful stance our nation took when its appointed leader challenged our unity. we are indivisible.

i am the product of a hardworking father with a creative and charismatic personality and a hyper-driven mother who is an extraordinary example of independence and intelligence. the values they consciously (or unconsciouly) instilled in me encouraged understanding, acceptance, growth, and love. through their actions, i saw that fear could be conquered, that perseverance leads to results, and that perfection is a daily practice.

and today, as i made my pledge of allegiance to our flag and the nation it represents, i celebrated those lessons…

our nation can conquer fear.
our perseverance leads to results.
our perfection is a daily practice.

three decades of home.

february march april may june july august september october november

we moved to honolulu ten months ago.

in ten months, i have not written a single word about hawaii on this blog. i have not spent a moment of time reflecting on this next chapter. why?

you know why…

who sits and stares at their laptop writing when it is 85ºF and sunny outside? when the surf is overhead and breaking perfectly? when the tide is low enough to climb the oceanside rock arch? when there are fish to be caught and beach bonfires to be had?

yeah, no one.

so here i am. ten months later. finally finding the time.

where did i find the time?

i am alone on an airplane. surprise surprise!

i wonder if all travelers write their blogs on airplanes. if they sit and reminisce about their last adventure while on their way to planning the next.

or maybe they are more disciplined and make the time each night to update their followers like i did when i was traveling around india for a month. it is better that way. the details are fresh. you are not summarizing several weeks or months into 1000 words. you are just decompressing. unloading the day to the page just as you would to your spouse over dinner.

so instead of trying to sum up ten months in one blog post, i’ll digress…

i turn 30 near the winter solstice. the longest night of the year.

every day i fluctuate between wanting to sleep through it on the beach by myself and wanting to plan an epic string of activities including everyone i’ve ever met.

some days i want to be in chicago with my family and lifelong fiends. i want to see a new release picked by my brother with my family at cantera. i want my sister to take me out to sing karaoke with a live band. i want to play dance video games against my cousin. i want aisha to magically appear. i want brian to serenade me. i want to eat fresh baked cookies at the grays with kritsin and jackie. i want to sip wine with katy and nadine. i want cooper and pat and the whole gang to give me a run for my money on some empty dive bar dance floor. and i want kayla and kristina and katina to make sure i don’t fall asleep before the clock strikes midnight on december 22.

but some days i want to be in michigan. i want to pretend i was back in college and stroll down main street all bundled up. i want to end up at the blind pig with becca to shake myself straight out of my 20s. i want jonathan to sit with my in the arb for hours. i want to bask on the santoro’s pier. i want lainie and kelly and lea to cook me an amazing feast followed by another feast from sue. i want to start the next morning with a cheese danish from wealthy bakery. i want to go sledding and skinny-dipping in lake michigan. yes, skinny-dipping in december. marlee will be there dancing in the snowy sand.

other days i want to be in portland. i want to wake up to a private yoga class with nathan. i want to spend all day at loyly sweating in the sauna and getting a facial from heather. i want paloma to lend me something cool to wear and get our dance on at mississippi studios. i want anna to order for me at andina and make me remember why i love ceviche. i want lisa to be my rope gun at smith. i want zac and lauren and ethan to unite with me for some witty banter and endless laughter. i want to find ian and give him a hug. i want to hang out in the noto office just for fun. and i want miles to share his coffee with me and introduce me to my next favorite album. autumn, you’re invited too.

most days though, i want to use all the frequent flyer miles i can muster to fly everyone straight to me. i want to turn yokohama into my own private beach. i want the people that have made the first thirty years of my life so amazing to spend december 22 surrounding me with their absurdities. i want to hug them and love them and never let them go. and i want to go home with  ryan and fall asleep in his arms. night after night after night.

hawaii is home for thirty. but my thirty is made up of three decades of homes. three decades of relationships that have challenged me and molded me into the woman i am now and the woman i will be in the future. cities and faces that stay with me wherever i go.

thank you saint charles and ann arbor and grand rapids and portland. thank you for being my home.

hawaii, it’s your turn to shape the next decade (or at least the beginning of it), and you’ve got a lot to live up to…



hedland you have my heart.

i am definitely one of those people who has a weird attachment to hallmark holidays like valentine’s day. blame it on too many romantic comedies in my most formative years or the remnants of being the product of divorced parents, but it’s something i know and accept about myself. give me any excuse to send someone a card in the mail, and i’ll take it. christmas, birthdays, valentine’s day. who knows, maybe someone will even get lucky enough for me to resort to sending president’s day cards this year.

i don’t know what it is about the days of the year with special titles, but they hold a dear place in my heart. i understand the common argument that we should be celebrating the things we celebrate on those days every day of the year. i also don’t see why it’s such a big deal that we give things a little extra celebration.

especially love.

love deserves it’s own day.

now, do i believe that love equates to overly priced red roses and expensive jewelry? of course not. (although if your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, then you are probably on the right path by celebrating love that way.)

good old saint valentine of rome did something that would make all sentimentals swoon. marrying soldiers forbidden to marry and ministering to persecuted christians. it’s exactly the kind of martyr that all good romantic tales need. i’m sure there’s a hollywood hit waiting to happen here folks. a modern twist on an old roman legend.

however, valentine’s day is not always filled with love. in fact the emphasis on love often sends people running in the opposite direction.

case in point: my 2010, 2011, and 2012 valentine’s days all happened right around a break up.

for us eternal optimists, we douse ourselves in self-love and go see blue valentine with two other love misfits and feel your heart sink when michelle williams tap dances to ryan gosling’s musical magic.

we cry over the beautiful handmade valentine cards our friends deliver to our doors. we convince ourselves that we are ready to embrace our new found freedom to experience love alone.

and then you are alone.

and your relationship with love evolves.

last year, i spent valentine’s day in india. we were on an airplane traveling from delhi to mumbai most of the day, but as our taxi drove us to our hotel along marine drive, you could feel the love in the air. it was thicker than the hot indian air. the entire city coast of the arabian sea was lined with couples sitting in the dark soaking in the bright lights of the endless skyline.


some people find this an absolutely horrible place to spend valentine’s day in mumbai. but for me, it was beautiful. no was alone. it is impossible to be alone in a country so filled with people. so filled with love.

i felt that stupid grin come over my face and stay there motionless as i flattened my nose against the taxi window, staring out into the faceless sea of people celebrating the forbidden love of centuries ago.

today is valentine’s day (in my timezone), and i have again found myself in a foreign land. only this year, it doesn’t seem like such a big day for me. every moment of this year has overflowed with romance. by romance, i mean this definition: “the colorful world, life, or conditions depicted in romantic tales.” or maybe it’s this one: “a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention.”

sometimes i can hardly tell the difference.

every day in this small remote town has felt filled with love. a love for the person waking up next to me, a love for the new experiences, and an immense love for the landscape surrounding us.

so in gratitude to this, here is my goodbye valentine to port hedland: a sea of storms, sunrises, and sunsets transforming every day into valentine’s day.




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you get what you need.

you get what you need.

that was going to be my clever connecting entrance to this blog post. (see last blog post for my clever connecting exit.)

however, plans change, and now i must start this post with this…

i was asleep on a blow-up mattress at the foot of my mother’s bed. there was nowhere else to sleep due to the endless stacks of boxes filling up the living room in my mom’s new red farm house. she had somehow heard me stirring from downstairs, and as i opened my eyes there she was, hovering over me.

she had that know-it-all smirk on her face that all mothers get when they think they have solved their children’s problems. there was something in her hand, but i couldn’t quite make it out through the glassy coating still sleepily covering my eyes.

“i read your blog,” she said with an empathetic undertone.

oh gee. i immediately knew where this was going. i quickly explained in a half-awake stupor that no mom, i am not wallowing in the fact that i am single, and no mom, the blog was not cause for worry. she stood there nodding and waiting for her moment.

“i have just what you need.”

she revealed a christian science pamphlet from behind her back. “a letter to someone in love” i believe it is called. a short reading about finding love in god and separating material love from spiritual love. i had seen and read the booklet a handful of times before (because she had already given it to me several times throughout my life). i told her this fact and watched her know-it-all smirk rapidly descend into defeat. i again had to dive into explaining where the blog was going. what my point was. for her to not feel pity over her daughter’s random rantings.

i think we are on the same page now. and so i shall continue with what my point was…

perfection gets harder as we get older. as expectations develop, we consequently expect things. (crazy concept i know.) our idea of perfection now meets head-to-head in a dark alley with all our expectations.

so i think we left off at college.

those four years where we are put into a holding tank called a “campus” and left to soak up everything we can. knowledge, friends, lovers, professional connections, hobbies, oh, and more expectations.


i just reread what i wrote last night. another rambling saga about my relationships that didn’t really lead to the point i told my mom i was trying to make. so i deleted it and am going to end this two part blog post with this…

my list clearly stated that i would never date a smoker. i get headaches from cigarette smoke. my last serious boyfriend smoked marlboro reds. a lot of them. and he was good for me. not what i wanted, but what i needed at the time.

and yet, after every relationship ends we return to the mold. our expectations grow higher, stronger. the image of perfection finds definition, and it is this definition that makes finding that perfection even harder.

some of you may have seen this recent article about us poor millennial yuppies. our expectations for work and life have far exceeded our reality. we are dreamers. you told us we were special and could do anything. we believed you. and now we are not giving you grandchildren because we can’t find that perfect soulmate.

the search filter on our hearts is a bit narrower. we clicked to open the “advanced search” feature, but after filling out all the desired criteria and clicking the search button, the beachball won’t stop spinning. the hourglass icon keeps telling us to wait.

just force quit. pretty sure that fixes everything and lets you start from a blank slate. before you carved that perfect person.

you can’t always get what you want.

i have always been in a relationship. there were the kindergarten crushes and the flirtatious pranks on the playground in elementary school, but i would say the pattern started the summer before sixth grade. coincidentally, or rather not coincidentally at all, right around the time i had to explain to my mother that my bowels had unknowingly betrayed me. a mortifying moment of confusion for which i needed to seek expert counsel.

they don’t warn you that blood is not always red when you are learning about menstruation in the fifth grade. they don’t warn you about the irrational waves of emotion that follow either.

interest in the opposite sex gets magnified. it takes all your energy, suddenly. and then, you have your first “boyfriend.”

there is no preconceived notion of what this person looks like, body or mind. you naturally find the person who makes you feel good and you “date” him or her.

mine was an athlete and overall smartass. descendant from nigeria. a “dormer” at the private day and boarding elementary school we attended.

we held hands and wrote letters and drew pictures for each other. we walked down to the soccer field together and swayed awkwardly with arms on shoulders at school dances. we eventually were peer pressured into kissing on the lips at someone’s birthday party, with everyone watching.

and then, you have your first break-up.

oof. whether you are 13 or 30, it still sends you into a new and unknown space. this realm of self-doubt and complete certainty that something is wrong with you.

she was a new boarding student from korea.

this was right around the time i started writing poetry (if it can be called that). again, probably not coincidentally, due to the overwhelming onset of emotions that i was feeling on this journey to womanhood called puberty.

these poems are hilariously angsty. my first journal has ballet shoes on the cover and was given to me by my sister when i was sick one time. inside my name and his name are written with a plus sign in between and an = ❤ at the end. in a different color ink (signifying a passing of time) there are words formed from the letters of our name. acrostic. a poetic form learned in my third grade poetry unit.

and then, you reach high school.

for some this transition is underwhelming. you move from your run-down public middle school building across the street to the run-down public high school building with the bigger football field. the halls are filled with all the same faces as the halls were filled with before.

for me this transition was a bit more meaningful.

i moved from a private school with an eighth grade class of 14 to a public school with a freshman class of 428. or 457. i can’t remember important details like that these days.

i got my very first locker. i got to choose some of my classes for the very first time. i got to be the new girl for the very first time. and being the new girl is an interesting role when you are 14 and surrounded by hormonal teenage boys.

whether new is better or not, it is the allure of something different and unknown that sparks our interest. we learn “the chase” instinctively.


i had three suitors for the fall homecoming dance. i went to the event with one of them. then a few weeks later started dating one of the other ones who had gone with my good friend.

and then, you lose your girlfriend over your boyfriend.

luckily, in my case, she forgave me, and we are still good friends all these years later. but, this is not always the case as i learned in my college years. inevitably, we all face this situation. you fall for your friend’s lover. taylor swift writes a song about playing the platonic best friend role while hiding your true emotions called “you belong to me” and makes millions. because we can all relate.

of course, you immediately end up breaking up with the boy you risked your friendship for because you are young and fickle and still have no idea what you want or need. but, you are starting to.

that clean, untouched block of wood you started with as a child is beginning to be slowly whittled away. every person you date from here on out carves the specifications of your perfect mate a little deeper.

we use high school to determine who we think we are and what we think we want to be. this includes who we want to be with.

after that first epic two year “relationship” with my middle school boyfriend, i dated the:

  • boy next door redhead lifeguard who was my friend’s older brother’s friend and promised to make me the princess of the camaro he planned to buy one day
  • overly jealous sweetheart soccer player who punched sidewalks when he saw me talking to other boys and spent his drivers ed savings to buy me a white gold necklace with my birthstone
  • class clown token black guy in our upper-class mainly white suburban school who made me laugh and gave me sock ‘em boppers and an easy bake oven for my 16th birthday
  • baseball and basketball player who relied on his wit to woo me and let me illegally drive his brand new ford explorer
  • somewhat shy, silly, intelligent state champion swimmer who quickly became what i now deem as my first love

(note to all those who just got summarized in a sentence: you are worth way more words but this post is already pushing 1,500 so i had to simplify.)

none of them were like the others. they were and still are completely different types of people. in looks, in personalities, in upbringings. and it was these extreme differences that whittled away at my wood block enough to show some semblance of a shape.


and then, you go to college.

by this point, my heart had thoroughly been shattered by that final two year high school relationship. i also had a vision of the kind of person i wanted to spend the rest of my life with. the blank slate was gone. i was searching for someone to fit into a mold. i made a list of the attributes i wanted. i watched “practical magic” and crafted my own man that i would will into existence. he didn’t need to have one blue eye and one brown eye, but there was definitely a clear definition of who i wanted this person to be.

you can’t always get what you want.

to be continued…