Welcome to Thug Life

I moved out of my parents’ home 12 years ago. Since then, I’ve lived in three houses, two townhouses and four apartments. Not once have I purchased a sofa. No couch, no chaise, no settee, nothing. My last place in Hawaii was a one-bedroom apartment. I had lived in a studio prior to that move, so for the first time, I put couch shopping at the top of my to-do list. I dragged my sister around the Island to every furniture store I could think of, but still came home empty-handed.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a few pieces I liked. I took pictures and made notes, but I just couldn’t decide on one. As silly as it sounds, it felt like such a commitment. There were just too many options! Colors, materials, sizes, styles … The choices were seemingly endless.  It wasn’t like I was choosing a blender or a lamp that I could easily throw into my trunk and return if I changed my mind. I would most likely have to hire people to lug it up to my 11th-floor abode — and re-hire them if I decided to get rid of it. What if I loved it in the store, but hated it once I actually saw it in the space? Or what if I liked it for a couple of weeks, then decided I just couldn’t stand to look at it every day anymore? Needless to say, I lived there for two years, sans couch.

Once I moved into my Louisville apartment, I started considering a couch purchase again. But that idea got squashed rather quickly once I made plans to move to New York in a year. I thought, why bother putting too much effort into this place if I know I’m not going to be here for long? Well, plans changed — as they often do — and I’ve now been in this apartment for 26 months. That’s right —  I’ve been in the same space for two years and I STILL don’t have a couch.

Some might say I have commitment issues, though I disagree. Because I’ve finally decided that I’m almost-pretty-surely-fairly-certain that I’m going to move forward and just get a damn couch. Or a chaise, actually. I found one I really like! It’s currently sitting in my Amazon cart as I type this … And that’s where it’s been for the past three weeks.

Don’t worry, I’m gonna get it. Eventually. In the meantime, I’m enjoying something else I’ve never bought for a home — a doormat. A “Thug Life” doormat, to be exact. It was inexpensive, and I know I’m not going to get sick of it because, like other things, I had it saved in my Amazon cart for several days before I actually bought it. Seeing it made me laugh every single time I checked my cart, so I know it’ll bring me joy when I get home every day. See? I’ve committted to something. Baby steps.

Koa and I love this mat, because there is absolutelyl NOTHING “thug” about our life. 😀




Brown Does Not Equal Mexican

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be offensive. I’m not offended by the experiences I’ve written about and I’m sharing them for your amusement. If you find any of this offensive or think I’m being racist, you don’t know me very well and should stop reading this blog. 

I’m not an attention seeker. I like being able to go places and do things without people paying me any mind. When I first made the decision to leave Hawaii for Colorado, people said things like, “Oh, no one will even notice you. You’re brown. They’ll think you’re Mexican.” Friends and family members assured me that I’d be able to blend in while in good ol’ Colorado Springs. Surely not as seamlessly as I blend in while in Hawaii, but they were positive my looks wouldn’t be a big deal. Boy, were they wrong.

People in the Springs definitely noticed me — and they made it obvious. I had a few awkward experiences with people blatantly staring — doing a full-on head-to-toe assessment — presumably trying to figure out what the hell I am. I didn’t feel discriminated against or anything; just highly uncomfortable.

In Louisville, KY, people still notice me. But they’re not rude about it. In fact, many of them are vocal and have no qualms about making comments or asking questions, which I love. So here, I bring you some of my favorite “ethnicity encounters,” as I like to call them. Enjoy!

  • An Uber driver kept looking at me through his rearview mirror. Finally, he asked where I was from. When I told him I was from Hawaii, he said, “I knew it! I knew you were Polynesian, but I didn’t know which kind. I mean, I knew you weren’t Samoan, ’cause Samoans are BIG.”
Polynesian Woman
This is what you get when you Google “Polynesian Woman.” (photo from https://www.facebook.com/teineaulelei88/)
  • I had a very similar experience with another Uber driver. But his response to me being from Hawaii was, “Yeah … OK. OK. You look like you’re from the ocean.” I took it as a compliment because obviously, he thought I was a mermaid.


  • Encounters with random people on the street are even better because I never see them coming. One day, I was walking my dog on our usual route when a man approached me with a very friendly “Hey!” He put his arms out as though he was going to hug me. I quickly stepped back and said, “Um. Hi.” He looked at me for a second, seemingly confused. I think we both realized at the same moment that he had mistaken me for someone else. “My bad,” he said. “I thought you was my homie from the dee argh.” Now I was confused. “The what?!” I asked. “The D.R.,” he replied. “Dominican Republic?” Oh.


  • Another time, I was walking along the same street and a woman got a little too close to my face, peering at me very intensely. “Are you Native American?” she asked. “Huh?” I replied. “Um. No.” She stared into my eyes and said, “My grandmother is Native American.” I wasn’t sure what that meant or how I was supposed to respond, so I just kept walking.


  • During my first conversation with a woman I’m still in contact with (but shall remain nameless), I asked what brought her to Louisville. She said that her husband got a job here, so their family relocated. Then she leaned across the table, looked me in the eye and said, “My husband is Mexican.”


Ha! I guess someone did think I was Mexican after all! 😆



When Shit Gets Real

I started this blog as a way to share my experiences and adventures when I left Hawaii. But life got busy — as it is apt to do — and like many passion projects, it fell by the wayside. Recently though, I’ve been thinking more about how much I miss telling my stories here. So, the blog is officially back! And if you’re reading this, I thank you.

For the most part, my posts have been all about funny and/or silly things I’ve gone through along my journey: I saw snow for the first time! I discovered dollar stores! I accidentally flirted with a guy I thought was gay! This post is different — but I promise to get back to the funny stuff next time.

My first year and a half in Louisville often felt like an extended vacation. I was just prancing around, taking advantage of new opportunities that came my way. The answer to every invitation was a resounding, “Yes!” Want to check out new restaurants, bars or coffee shops? Yes, yes, yes! Want to attend an event or concert, or go on a road trip? Yes, yes, yes! I tried to soak up every new experience like a kid on a field trip. But in 2018, that field trip came to an abrupt halt.

In less than a month’s time, I’d broken up with the first guy I dated outside of Hawaii, lost my one consistent freelance writing gig, and had someone I saw on an almost-daily basis pass away suddenly. After all these things happened, I sat quietly, staring down at the city from the window of my 25th-floor apartment. And I came to a realization: SHIT JUST GOT REAL.


It became apparent that I wasn’t “new” to Louisville anymore. I’d formed real relationships with new people, gotten accustomed to my day-to-day activities, and felt every emotion under the sun. I was constantly thinking about what would come next — like if I’d move out of the state once my lease was up —but I’d failed to realize that the adventuring, vacation mode of my move had ended. I was living the life that I’d established here. It was time to look at everything a bit more seriously and make a conscious effort to ensure I was building the life I wanted to live.

So, I committed to participating in a program that requires me to be here for another year. (I had previously withdrawn my application because I wasn’t sure if I’d be moving before the year was up.) Though the fun and adventures won’t end — and I’ll always have travel plans — I’m going to focus on what’s happening in the here and now, rather than what could come next.

It’s like Jim Elliot said: “Wherever you are — be all there.”


Play Dates for Grownups

I never thought I’d have to actively try to meet people. Making friends always happened organically, because I wasas I’m sure most people wereconstantly surrounded by other humans. It started in grade school and continued on into high school, college, and the working world. Then one day, I moved 4,000 miles away from the place I’ve always called home and realized that I won’t be able to grab a few drinks with my coworkers on Friday nights … because I don’t have any coworkers.

Now, don’t get me wrongI love working from home. I love being able to run errands, walk my dog or spend an hour on Facebook whenever I feel like it. I love being able to stay awake until 2 or 3 a.m. without worrying about how much sleep I’m getting, because I know I have the freedom to wake up at noon if I want to. But after being in my new apartment for a month, the fear of turning into Johnny Depp in “Secret Window” forced me to create a profile on meetup.com.

I browsed through the various types of meetups: book clubs, hiking groups, scuba diving organizations. The list of grownup play dates went on and on. I searched for a dog-specific group, but the only thing available was a Shih Tsu meetup. I didn’t think its members would appreciate me and my mutt joining their crew (even though Koa is 1/4 Shih Tsu!), so I kept looking.


Finally, I came across a group called “New 2 Lou.” It was for any and all Louisville newbies. It seemed perfectbroad enough to include all kinds of people, with meetups at new locations every month. I RSVP’d for the next gathering, which was going to be held at a new brewery, 10 minutes away from my apartment.

Now, if you know me, you know that something like this is NOT my idea of fun. I have no problem speaking to a crowd, being on T.V., going on a sales call or giving a presentation. But immersing myself in a social situation with no definitive goal gives me anxiety. Plus, I had my worries: What if it’s just a bunch of sleazy guys trying to hook up? What if I end up surrounded by people trying to sell me Nerium, or Amway, or whatever the hell it is people are selling nowadays? I decided that the best way to approach it was like the first part of a sales call: My goal was simply to get to know the person/people.

Before I knew it, the day had come. I walked into the brewery, checked in, and grabbed a beer. As soon as I had my IPA in hand, I scanned the crowd. A bunch of people were already engrossed in conversations and others were awkwardly standing around, looking like they didn’t want to be seen. But then, I spotted him, with his fitted tee and perfectly groomed eyebrows: the only gay guy in the entire group. I was ecstatic! Gay guys are my favorite people to chat with because (1) they won’t hit on me, (2) they either won’t judge me or will be honest about their judgements and (3) they’re usually very easy to talk to.

We made eye contact, walked toward each other, and began with the typical “getting to know you” questions: What’s your name? Where are you from? What brought you here? We sat at a large, round table and continued the convo. Everything seemed to be going OK, until about five minutes into it. I had said something that was only mildly funny, but he was laughinghard. It oozed of too much effort. I replayed the last five minutes in my head, analyzing his body language, mannerisms and word choice, then realizedwith horrorthat he wasn’t gay! He was a straight, metro-sexual guy who probably thought I found him attractive, since I had walked past every single other person, making a beeline for him. It was awful. I had to abort.

Soon enough, he said he had to go to the restroom. My chance to escape! Or so I thought… He stood up and left both his phone and beer on the table, saying “I’ll be right back.” I sat there, contemplating how horrible of a person I’d be if I dug out and left his stuff on the table. But before I could make a move, three other guys swooped in and made themselves comfortable in the empty chairs at our table. By the time Mr. Metro returned, the rest of us had introduced ourselves. I quickly learned that all four guys actually lived in Indiananot Louisvilleand each had been there for two or more years. New 2 Lou? I thought. None of you fakers are new to Lou! (Indiana IS very close; it’s literally a walk away from Louisville. But still… two years?!)

I spent the next 30 minutes working on my second beer, while answering questions about Hawaii and listening to them drone on about nothing I was even remotely interested in hearing. Then I had to wait for each of them to show me their photo of a sunset by the Big Four Bridge, because “Everyone has a sunset photo of the bridge.” Finally, I was able to make my great bathroom break/escape. I’d had enough. I did not make a single friend or potential work connection. Annoyed, I walked the quarter mile on the above mentioned bridge back to Louisville.

Though my first meetup.com experience was less than ideal, I’m not gonna ditch the whole thing. I think that it’s a great concept and I know the person who founded New 2 Lou had good intentions. But I think I’ll pass on their next gathering and join a hiking club instead. Because you can’t fake a hike.

A Puddle of Resources

When you live in the same place for 30 years, you develop a huge pool of people you can count on for just about anything you need. Friends, family, coworkers, ex-boyfriends … at any given moment, there are many shoulders to lean on. If your car is in the shop, someone will give you a ride. If it’s cold, someone will loan you a sweater. If you’re not feeling well, someone will cover your workor at the very least, remind you about the deadline you missed while you were out sick. You even have a professional pool: your go-to manicurist, dog sitter, plumber, etc. Whatever you need is only a phone call or text message away.

Once I moved to Kentucky, my pool shrank drastically. In fact, it isn’t even a pool anymore it’s more of a puddle. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize this until I had to transport my boxed, Amazon-ordered bed frame from the mail area into my new apartment. The box was MUCH heavier than I imagined, and I couldn’t even move it an inch.

Thankfully, I had heard professional movers were going to be around the next day. (Since the entire building is undergoing a renovation, movers come in every couple of months to install new appliances and such.) So, I spoke with the property management team to see if I could enlist a couple of people for my personal move. Not only did they tell me it was OK, but they said the movers could assemble my bed frame, too. It was perfect!

The following day, two movers brought the box into my apartment, opened it up, and just as I thought they were going to get to work, they announced that one of the pieces was broken. What’s more, is it wasn’t just any pieceit was the middle board of the base, the very center of the foundation. Since there was no point in working on a bed frame with a broken part, they left while I made a phone call to request a replacement piece. The package was going to take seven to ten business days to get here, which meant my mattress would have to reside on the floor for a while longer.

A week and a half later, my replacement board arrived! Since it was only one piece, I was able to carry it upstairs myself. But, who was going to put the frame together? The property manager wasn’t going to hire movers again for another six weeks! I thought about calling my puddle of friendsall two of thembut decided I’d better save the favor-asking for more important things. Then I thought about doing it myself, until I remembered the time I tried to put my breakfast nook together: After 20 frustrating minutes, I had given up and pulled out my phone-a-friend card. Though my nook was considerably more complicated than my bed frame, I decided it was still probably safer to have someone else do it.

This was two years ago, when I was feeling ambitious about assembling my breakfast nook.

So naturally, I did what any other person in my position would do in 2016: I went online. A quick “handyman” Google search led me to Thumbtack, a resource for just about any professional service you could imagine. “Consider it done,” read the website’s headline. “From house painting to personal training, we bring you the right pros for every project on your list.” It seemed easy enough.

Within ten minutes, I had completed my request and received three quotes for the job. I reviewed each person’s profile, then replied to a handyman located in a town about half an hour away. (It seemed like a bit a commute to me, but he DID know my zip code when he sent his quote.) After a couple of messages back and forth, we scheduled a date and time for my bed frame assembly.

A few days later, Caleb from Shepherdsville arrived to take care of the unfinished project that had been laying on my floor for three weeks. He was professional, considerate and efficient. He was also nice enough to let Koa force him into playing a few rounds of fetch while he worked. My mattress finally has its home! And you know what? I think I just found the first person to put into my professional pooler, puddle.

Koa tests out the new bed frame.



What the hell is in Kentucky?!

“What the hell is in Kentucky?!” I’ve heard this questionor variations of itfrom friends, family, even complete strangers. My favorite bit of commentary came from one particularly animated Uber driver, after I’d spent the day doing some exploring in Louisville. “WHY would you leave Hawaii to come here?,” he asked. “I mean, Louisville’s cool, but it ain’t fuckin’ Hawaii!!”

This is a screenshot of an actual text conversation I had with a friend after he read my blog post about moving to Kentucky.

He’s absolutely right. Louisville is NOT fucking Hawaii. I’m very aware of this fact. I miss things about being on Oahu every single day. I have a friend (the same one from the text conversation above) who thinks it’s funny to send me beach photos so I can see what I’m missing. I think about the ocean, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I also think about the fact that when I went home in May to wrap up my move, it scared me to see how quickly my niece and nephew were growing upwithout me. I had been gone for only four months, but my teenage nephew’s voice had changed and my niece had become a full-grown child. All traces of baby and toddler Kaylee were gone.

There are people, places and experiences that I will miss. There’s no doubt about that. But my decision to move from Hawaii to Kentucky never involved comparing the two states. The point wasn’t to move somewhere better; I just wanted to move somewhere different. I was born and raised in Hawaii, attended college in Hawaii and never moved anywhere else. (Unless you count leaving Wahiawa and moving to downtown Honolulu, which, to be fair, is quite a change.) Now, I’m living in a state that borders seven other states. There are a million and one things to do around here that I haven’t done yetbut I intend to.


Blame it on the Concierge

After being in Louisville, Kentucky, for a couple of weeks, I decided to check out the rental apartment marketjust for kicks. Would I have a similar experience to the one I had in Colorado? Lots to choose from in lots of sketchy areas, or units getting scooped up so quickly I wouldn’t even have time to check them out? I hopped onto rent.com to take a look.

There were lots of places availableas expectedand every photo looked great, per the usual. I read the descriptions and saw two buildings I thought looked promising. Using the website’s auto-fill form, I easily sent off two inquiries with the click of my mouse. Less than five minutes later, I received an emailwhich was quickly followed by a phone call. Whoa, I thought. Someone is either REALLY desperate or gets a REALLY high commission. Or maybe she just enjoys her job…

Whatever the situation was, I had my first showing scheduled for 11 a.m. the very next day. Cate, the sales manager, was just as nice in person as she was on the phone and via email. As she showed me around, I walked past “hard hat only” areas while she explained that the construction was all part of a $10 million renovation project. Once completed, every single unit in the 29-floor building would be renovated. There would also be new amenities, including a rooftop pool, fitness center, yoga room, movie theater, restaurant and dog park. (A fitness center AND a dog park?! Whaaat?) I played it cool, but I was impressed. After all, my apartment complex in Hawaii didn’t have very many amenities, except for a poolwhich I stopped using after my coworker and I saw duck poop floating around in it.

The actual unit I was interested in hasn’t been built yet, so she showed me a model, which was adorably decorated and made me miss working at Hawaii Home + Remodeling Magazine. Keeping in mind the fact that an actual rental would be completely empty and NOT decorated, I focused on its true features, like the granite island on wheels. It was movable, adjustable and had storage underneath. Pure genius! I loved it.




As we left the model unit and headed back toward her office, Cate told me that residents are encouraged to decorate their space as they see fit, and are allowed to paint, put up wallpaper, drill holes into the wall, etc. “Really???” I asked. (This was unheard of in Hawaii! If you dare to put a single nail into a wall, expect to have a nice chunk of change taken out of your deposit when you move out.) “Yeah,” she replied. “We want you to feel comfortable, so you’ll want to stay here.” She then proceeded to talk about about the 24/7 concierge. “He’ll always be in the lobby, in case you ever need anything,” she said. “The goal is to run the building like a hotel, so you always feel like you’re accommodated.”

Hmm…, I thought. A concierge? Who would want to live in a building that’s run like a hotel? Who wants to be in a place where there’s always something to do, and always someone you can call if you need something? Um… ME. That’s who. I would definitely like to live in a place that’s run like a hotel.

Obviously, I was sold. Two weeks after arriving in Louisville, I decided I liked it enough to stay for a bit. I submitted my application and put a hold on a soon-to-be built apartment. That’s rightI’m moving to Kentucky, y’all!