Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Routes that Clutch: Circle Island / Circle Blog

The wheels on TheBus go round and round (h/t Ryan Oishi); after launching this blog in January 2009 my fourth post was about a project organized by three UHM alums about TheBus. That project, called Routes, is now out from Kahuaomanoa Press. Made in the format of a bus map, the anthology includes poems, short fiction, journalism, a strip of ads at the top, and a panel called "Route 5: My Seat," where the rider can compose her own poem (or post) as she rides.

At 9:32 a.m. on May 19, 2010 I got on the Circle Island bus (55) at the Kane`ohe Bay Shopping Center across from Windward Mall. The weather was warm, the mountains clear behind the looming mall, the wires, the SUVs. The bus headed away from Kane`ohe along the coast on Kamehameha Highway, or the route that is prettier than Kahekili Highway, on which I commute.

By 9:42 we arrived at the intersection of Kamehameha Highway and what again became Kam Highway. To my right was the gas station and 7-Eleven, and to my left as we turned was the Hygienic Store, whose name was carefully enunciated by the voice of TheBus, Puakea Nogelmeier, a deep resonant voice (even so disseminated). Every so often the Puakea voice would advise riders to "please kokua" or to "watch for suspicious behavior," but mostly it called off the names of the stops.

Chad Blair:
Anyone who has taken O`ahu public transportation in the past five years knows his work: Triggered automatically at every stop, the pre-recorded spots let riders know they've arrived at Kapi`olani Boulevard or Alapa`i Street. As pronounced properly by Nogelmeier, it's Kah-pee-oh-la-need and Ah-la-pah-ee, the `okina--the upside-down apostrophe--requiring a cutting off or ending, a glottal stop.

As we rode toward Kualoa Beach Park, where the island itself turns, I saw many signs protesting development, especially in the Waiahole/Waikane area, known for resistance in the 1970s against the theft of water for leeward side golf courses and such.


At 9:40 we had made the turn to the north, and I noticed the ads above and across from me. There was a Mahalo to Our Sponsors next to an anti-methamphetamine ad (METH WILL CHANGE THAT). I learned that Darryl Valdez is Operator of the Quarter and that he has won a trip to Vegas.

Things I did not know: there's a trout farm at Kahana Bay. There is also bridge construction.


By 10:08 we were passing Hauula Beach park, where a wedding party was assembled, the bride in white dress bright against the turquoise water.

[something about Eminent Domain and YouTube: here!]

At the Polynesian Cultural Center, La`ie, a group of firemen were shooting water from a mighty hose at--what? The sign? The plants in front of the sign? A motorcycle gang, the first of several, had gathered at the La`ie McDonalds. A young white man got on wearing Koss earphones and a black teeshirt that read, "without music life would b flat" (the flat was a flat sign, mind you). He sat in front of me and pulled out a novel whose chapter heading had something to do with ice.

Next to me was a man who got on a bit later, hanging his bike on the front of the bus, whose left arm was tattooed with the word HAWAIIAN. More motorcycles went by, heading south. People were starting to know one another--many handshakes among the guys at the front.


Things I did not know: the circle just past Hale`iwa town is called Weed Circle.

I had a bit of a doze and came to in Wahiawa where a sign in an old restaurant read: SHOCK AND AWE BREAKFAST SPECIAL. Who could resist?

A few more turns and DIVINE PLEASURES / WELCOME HOME TROOPS with an odd mix of buxom blondes and a Pirate theme. AVOCADO PAWN.

Somewhere near Sunset Beach two women got on board and sat behind me. One was older, had grown up in Hawai`i; the second was much younger. The first was in sales, had almost bought a store in Hale`iwa Town; the second was a hair stylist (a "perfectionist," her friend said). They both knew Justin, the older woman from way back, the younger one as his girlfriend. Justin is a good guy, teaches boxing at a camp for kids (the young woman hailed a boy who got on with a "Justin is my boyfriend!" to which the little guy didn't know how to respond). Justin's former girlfriends were all losers. Jamie hated ALL of them. But younger woman doesn't want to talk about the past, even though Justin wants to know about hers: who were they, how old, what did they do for a living? She keeps telling him it just doesn't matter and she trusts him, but he keeps asking. The older woman started talking about Christine, his one ex, who had cheated on him. Christine was not so bad. And there were others the older woman knew. In Mililani Town, younger woman said she did not want to hear about Justin's past. It was over, and besides, they were all LOSERS. The women were going to Chinatown. Justin didn't want her to go anywhere herself. There were a lot of things Justin did not want. "At least he's trying now," said the younger woman with a sigh. He hates guys from the mainland, Justin does. "They're so stoopid." The way he was raised, island-style, by his granddad. "I don't bring it up any more, the mainland."

Gizelle Gajelonia: Deah God, Plz no bless Carissa though cuz I faking hate her! God, I thought she wux my fren. I saw her yesterday making out wit John Boy, my ex-boifren form ninth grade at Sushi Man. I laught though because da mean Korean lady dat works ova dea told me to stop doing dat. But I'm so pissed off! I no can believe she would do dat! Faking slut, I hope she get preggo and den John Boy dump her sorry ass . . .

The bus stopped at Alakea Street at about 1 p.m. I talked the bus driver out of a transfer. I didn't know why, but he looked at me funny. My husband says the transfers last only two hours, and I had told him I started in Kane`ohe, which would have been three hours before. He gave me one anyway. Funny thing, after half an hour off the bus for coffee and relief, I caught the same one over the Pali and back to Kane`ohe.

This time I sat on the left side of the bus, looking into the aisle. An older woman sat next to me, her hair done up (but still disordered), her face done up, wearing a dress. She was Korean, she told me, and her husband Japanese, Irish, Hawaiian, and at the Aloha Care place in Kane`ohe. Did I know where it was? When I said yes, she showed me a bag full of sushi she bought for her husband, and handed me a plastic platter with eight sushi pieces in it. "It was for the bus driver, but if you know where Aloha Care is, you can have it." We both have two children, she and I, and we both lived in northern Virginia. "Oh, people in the country are so much friendlier than people in the city," she said, as everyone on the bus who was not asleep started talking.

Eric Chock:

Tutu standing on the corner--
she look so nice!
Her hair pin up in one bun,
one huge red hibiscus hanging out
over her right ear,
her blue Hawaiian print muumuu
blowing in the wind
as one bus driver blows
one huge cloud of smoke around her,
no wonder her hair so gray!

A straw haired man on the older side of younger across from me reminded me of a colleague of mine, but had perhaps not made it so far. When a young man got on the bus with a boogie board in hand, he was accosted by the first guy, who began talking about his two cars that he had to sell (legal something), how you needed a car to get chicks, something about surf boards, working construction for the military. His talking knew no pause. So many cars on the island now, the population has changed in the 32 years he's been here.

Kai Gaspar:

When she pau school, Aunty Hemolele go Oahu
so she can go college
so she can learn how fo talk hybolic

By the time we got to Kane`ohe and my friend was safely off the bus at Aloha Care, the guy was sitting next to a young woman (she, pinned against the window) and he was grilling her about her studies. She's an English major, she said, staring straight ahead, showing no interest in the man who talked and talked. "You know how I write a five paragraph essay?" he asked. And then he told her. What to put in the first paragraph, the second, and on to the conclusion. Two sisters from Long Island who got on with some special needs kids from Benjamin Parker School sat behind him and his conversational hostage, getting the giggles. Their supervisor, an older white woman, called back, "The bus is a great place to meet people, isn't it?"

Mike Leidemann: TheBus: A metaphor for modern life. Who knew?

Routes is edited by Emelihter Kihleng, Ryan Oishi, and Aiko Yamashiro, and published by Kahuaomanoa Press. Other writers than those quoted include Emelihter Kihleng, Rodney Morales, Lisa Linn Kanae; design by Mark Guillermo. $6. Anyone interested in the anthology should contact

Craig Santos Perez blogged recently on the press, here.

Jill Yamasawa's Aftermath will be published soon by them, as well. Also an early blog entry for me.

[note: not all diacriticals are in place: blame blogger!]

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