Who? Pua? Is she still blogging? I know, I know. I don't blame you for doubting. I can't believe it myself. Six months have come and gone and with it, every emotion that can possibly be mustered. I've missed you, believe me. And while the world hasn't stopped or slowed down for one minute, there are those moments when I think of my blog family and wonder about the goings on in your worlds.
It's been crazy, but I kept promising that this year, I was going to try my hardest to set things to right. Though in all honesty, I'm not sure from one day to another which way is up. So I venture forward and begin by saying Happy New Year everyone. Actually, at this point, it's the Chinese New Year. Let's have Dim Sum!
I suppose I should start with the store because that's where I left you. The owner (my friend Wes) finally sold the property in December. It was a long, long year in that respect. Wondering from one day to another if I would have a job on the other end. He had to let all the other employees go. I couldn't walk away when I knew things were scary for him. So, I stayed, without pay, and helped him find a new location, and set up a new store. I believed in House of Tiki that much. I just felt in my heart that if we re-grouped, i.e.; cut expenses, found a low-rent spot, got our website up and running, we could make it work in a new home. I believed that our loyal tiki friends would follow. So once we closed in July, we both took a little time to get our heads together, re-connect with our families, and came back refreshed and ready to tackle the long road ahead.
We found a little warehouse, off the retail path, but back to Wes's humble surf industry beginnings, and got to work. Everyone pitched in; Wes, his son, dear friends, Charlie, me, the kids, and we worked our tails off. Four months later, the week before Thanksgiving, we finally opened our new little warehouse. No glitz, no glamour, just the nitty-gritty basics. A humble little store full of Aloha. Since I've forgotten how to manage html, I'll just put the urls here and you can visit if you want to and see what we've been up to:
Averie is now 22 and will graduate from Chapman University in May 2008 with her Bachelor of Fine Arts. She’s carried a pretty heavy load with a double major in English and Theater and she’s getting to that point where she just wants to be done. She’s working as an intern at NBC/Universal in the Sci-Fi Channel Division. She goes to school and commutes the 45 miles to LA. All for no pay. I have to believe it will all pay off in the experience department. There have been offers of a permanent, paid position after graduation with the possibility of transferring to NBC New York, which would be her ultimate dream job. However, her boyfriend, who is also in the industry, is based here in Los Angeles, so we’re thinking that she’ll want to stay in LA. We’ll see when the time comes I guess. She just returned from a Study Abroad program in England. I have to say, the girl works her tooshie off. I know all the hard work will come back as blessings to her down the line. Until then, we have one more big FAT tuition check to pay on her fine education. Another reason why I keep plugging away at making the tiki shop work. It's do or die.
Caris is now 20 and in her second year at JC. After a difficult year of losing both my dad and my birth father within weeks of each other, and then losing Charlie’s mom so soon after, Caris was the one who struggled the most with the loss of so many grandparents all at once. She grieved deeply and keeping her mind on her studies was just too difficult. So she took a little time off and helped me at my work and became invaluable not only as a trusted employee, but as an emotional support. She worked, at one point, three jobs simultaneously and saved enough money to take a few trips with friends; New York in January, Boston in March, and then, with the family, Europe in August. When school started again in September, she was ready to hit the books hard again and is back to enjoying the performing arts. Charlie and I look forward to seeing how the future unfolds for her.
Bryson is 18 and will graduate from high school in June. Two graduations in one year...sigh...and YAY! He really worried us for those first two years of high school. We weren’t sure if he was ever going to get serious. But something kicked in during his Junior year and he’s been gung ho ever since. Brought his GPA up, joined Business Academy/Virtual Enterprise and now serves as a VP of Human Resources for CM High School’s competition team. On an individual basis, he placed 9th in the state and the team placed 10th, which qualified them to compete on a national level in New York in January. He loves music and has become quite a talented guitarist, still loves the ocean and surfs after school, but his true passion is history. He hopes to teach history at the college level one day and will continue his studies at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. My brother has offered to let him live with he and his family while he’s in school there, and Bryson is pretty excited about that.
In October, after 18 months of unemployment, Charlie began a new job as a Design/ CAD Engineer for a medical optics company. It’s been a long, hard road, and now it’s a relief to be getting back to “normal”. At the beginning, his layoff was a blessing because he was able to care for his mom full time in her last months of life here on Earth. Her long illness took a toll on all of us, but for Charlie, it was harder because he had other family members putting roadblocks in his way all the way through his mom’s illness and for some time after her passing. Only now, a year after her death, are we beginning to feel the stress and strain releasing a hold. He enjoys getting back to what he knows and does best and has found people very grateful to have the benefit of his skills and experience. I'm just grateful he's back to the world of the employed.
In August, we made the trip of a lifetime to Europe. It was Charlie’s mom’s wish that we would one day make it to London to see where her family came from (before New Zealand). With Averie being accepted into the Study Abroad program, Charlie not working, and House of Tiki closed for 4 months, we thought the time was perfect. So we took the money that Charlie’s mom left him and used it to take the family to London with a small side trip by train to Paris. We think Mom would have approved. It was truly amazing, beautiful, and exciting. Something we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives. I suppose with as shaky as things have been, we could have been "practical" and banked the money. But we talked and talked about it and thought..life is too damn short. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I want to make memories that my kids will remember. Besides, I NEVER thought in a million years I'd ever get to see Stonehenge. Seeing the tears in Caris' eyes when she saw the Eiffel Tower and hearing Averie giggle when we walked through the Louvre will stay with me forever. Bryson guaged his joy by what fabulous food he could stick in his face. Well, that and having pretty girls with lovely accents ask him if he'd like a pint and being able to say "Cheers!" to that.
That's it kids. I'm off to see a man about a tiki. For those of you who've checked on me every once in awhile, I love you. I haven't forgotten. Please forgive me for staying away so long. As always, hugs from afar.