How many times do people say that to be a writer the first step is to write... not get a publisher or an editor or a book deal, but just write.  That's why when I ran across this website I was so charmed by the concept -- to write a letter each day and document it, just because -- to write for the love of writing, and for the happiness it would bring to another.

Please check it out if you're in the mood:  http://lettersfromlauren.com/, it brought a great big smile to my face.

In other news, I'm fresh from my 5+ weeks in the Philippines -- Cebu and Bohol, specifically -- and am so glad I didn't let fear and doubt let me miss out on a trip of a lifetime.  I discovered little treasures on the island of Bohol where someone could spend a month and not get tired, a hidden getaway in Mactan that hotel insider's recommended again and again, a local Cebuano delicacy that made Anthony Bourdain's head spin and that in the little town my family  is from (Guadalupe, Cebu) come some of the most luscious mangoes in the world.  Market Man wrote a great blog post in 2005 about our beloved mangoes.  

As with most trips, I've come out the other side somewhat older, somewhat wiser, and with a great many experiences that I would not trade for all the money in the world: the great days spent in the melting humidity talking and laughing with my Lola, the many weeknights spent sitting around the TV watching Mutya (which has inspired me to start working on the mermaid book again) and sharing meals with the family, the new friends met in far-off places that have become like family, having my best friend come to see the place where I'm from and experience some Filipino hospitality, and most of all to do my small part in sharing with the world more about the Philippines.  I will do my best and do it with a smile.  :)
 
For now, it's so good to be home in O'ahu.  Here is a photo of my first sunset back; I missed it so much.  Aloha!

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Stink Eye.  That's the look Kris gave me when I invited our friend Ben to meet up with us in Maui last week.  Stink eye and a half dozen eye rolls.  She later said, "This is supposed to be a sister trip.  You should know better."

Touche.

It wasn't that I didn't want to spend 4 full days and nights with my sister in the honeymoon capital of the world, nay it was the sheer terror of driving the windiest, gnarliest, one-lane-iest roads all by myself.  Four hundred fourty seven point seven miles, Pau Hana, hippy dippy Pai'a (pronounced pah-ee-yah, not pa-eya like the yummy Spanish dish), cinnamon, black, red (oh my!) sand beaches  and two trips up Haleakala later --
turns out, no sweat.

Haleakalā delivered ten-fold and was closer to what I'd humbly call "the road to Heaven" than the road to Hana, any day.  After a fun and educational tour of Tedeschi Vineyard on Ulupalakua Ranch, Up Country we decided to catch a once-in-a-lifetime, above the clouds sunset.  The road to the summit reminded me of a movie we watched growing up called Brigadoon about an enchanted village that appeared in Scotland every hundred years for one day.  There was a distinct chill in the air as we floated up through the mist changed from our bathing suits to hoodies, pants and shoes and knocked at the door of the world of blue sky. 
Emerson once said, "A house is made with walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams."  I wish I knew how to say home in Hawaiian, as "House of the Sun" doesn't seem to do it justice.    We climbed: 7, 8,9 and finally made 10 grand and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  Yumie was a human popsicle, Kris was somewhere between ti(red) and Ulupalakua'd and I was just plain "Hi!".  It was love at first mother-lovin' sight.

You know how some things take time to get right?  How the first time doesn't totally explode your brain cause you're worrying too damn much or trying too damn hard?  Well, this was nothing like that.  The thinner-than-gauze air made me feel like I'd sipped a bottle of Champagne into oblivion... that kind of loopy high you get when the boy in high school let's on that he knows you exist -- hold up -- not only exist, but that the universe fades to the background when you walk into the room.  It's the threshold moment when the bridegroom lifts the bride's veil to reveal her wedding day radiance, 'cept this is no ordinary bride, it's the sun in all her brazen glory.  I reminded myself to breathe, screamed my little head off for joy, did the fist-pump dance then composed myself for a little asian tourist photo sesh. 
As the last rays of sun set on the first day my thoughts turn to the ever-changing possibilities of evening and the freshly proven fact that dreams do come true.
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...And though you don't believe that they do
They do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over loved, over me