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By In essay, surfing

John John Florence and Surfing’s Hawaiian Homecoming

“The Banzai Pipeline is a beautiful and horrific confluence of oceanographic features, the sum of which is one of the most dangerous waves on the planet. Considered unsurfable until the 1960s, the wave has killed dozens of surfers and photographers and injured countless more. The size of the average wave is scary enough—it’s about the height of a basketball hoop and wide enough to park a small car into, if you’re wondering—but even more intimidating is its steep drop, which makes the initial takeoff a split-second, do-or-die decision. If you make it, you have to snake around the rolling crowds of bodies duck-diving around you and the all-too-common surfboard shrapnel—boards ditched by their owners in a moment of fight-or-flight instinct—that can shoot out at you like flying fiberglass guillotines as they crash down the lip of the wave. If you don’t make the drop, you get slammed into the three feet of water between you and lava rock reef. All this for the chance at a few moments of getting barreled.

Pipe has been and still is considered the ultimate proving ground for surfers, professional and amateur alike. For decades, local and international gnar-dogs have flocked to its peak winter swells to test their mettle against one of the most respected and feared waves on Earth.

John John Florence started surfing it when he was eight years old…”

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By In basketball, essay

Away Games

“I’m not from a place where cold things happen without consent, but I live in one now. I am lucky, for that reason and others, to know Jay—that’s the Englishified version of Jong Il (yes, like Kim Jong Il)—and that Jay is sympathetic to the plight of a warm-weather waygook (foreigner) living in a blustery Asian city. I’m luckier still that he’s a basketball fan, and that he was willing to scoop me up from work to watch the showdown between Anyang KGC and the SK Knights in the Korean Basketball League. I hadn’t seen a live basketball game of any sort since college, but it is winter and Seoul is cold.

Inside the arena, starting small forward Yang Hee Jong stared at me from a phalanx of shiny pillars that greeted us, the faces and names of Anyang KGC players plastered across them in a Mercator distortion. I stared back at him, feeling a strange and sudden urge to bow. I was less sure how to engage with the pillar of foreign import Mario Little; the reflection of the bright lights in the room made it look like he was dribbling between his legs somewhere across the cosmos. For all I knew, that’s what it feels like for a former Kansas Jayhawk playing halfway across the world.

Up an escalator and outside the snack stand and gift shop, beside the gymnasium doors, was the pillar of Lee Jung Hyun. “He’s the ace,” Jay told me as we stopped to admire. Unlike the rest of the team, Lee Jung Hyun’s picture was all upper body, and his hand was propped up under his chin like a model. I bought myself a Lee jersey, because why wouldn’t you, and some fried chicken, because that always seems like the right thing to do. We went inside and found our seats. The game was about to begin…”

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By In education, essay

Numbers and Letters: A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher

“Two years.

It’s January 2014, and that statistic echoes around my head as I arrive at work. Two years is the average shelf life of a special-education teacher in Hawaii.

I’ve made it a year and a half at this middle school, but it’s felt a lot longer than that. I’ve worked during every break teaching ESY (Extra School Year) in the FSC (Fully Self-Contained classroom), and that’s to say nothing of the part-time job and full-time grad school schedule I’ve also been juggling.

I turn the engine off and sit inside my car for a few minutes to gather myself. I try to rub the exhaustion off my face, but it feels like I’m only spreading it around, like how a child attempts to clean up spilled juice with a paper towel. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere about feeling like a child when I’m here at work, but I let it go and heave myself out of the car. I try not to look at the gas meter…”

 

Read more at Honolulu Civil Beat

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By In essay

What I’ve Learned About Being Local

“Before I left home last year to move to Korea, my nostalgic flashbacks to my life in Hawaii became particularly acute.

My parents still live close to my elementary school in Aikahi, and I remember how stoked everyone in the neighborhood was when the new playground was built — and how terrified we were when it almost burned down.

I would get out early on Wednesdays and go to Dave’s Ice Cream with my dad and my brother. I remember the liberation I felt when I got my first bus pass. I remember it all: There was the beach park where I got in my first fight, and the fence my friends and I used to hop over in middle school to smoke in secrecy…”

 

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By In essay

In Defense of Millennial Whining

“You might not know this just by looking at me, but I’m special. So special, in fact, that I can do anything – anything – I set my mind to. Don’t believe me? Ask any of my teachers or coaches from elementary school. They’ll tell you. Better yet, while you’re hanging around my old stomping grounds, check out the motivational posters plastered to the walls. Not only will you discover how special I am, you might just realize that you, too, can do anything you want. So long as you follow your heart and shoot for the stars and never give up, of course…”

 

Read more at The Finite Life

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