Christmas at the Machados' has always been anything but traditional. (For years, our most honored ritual was drinking pina coladas on the beach on Xmas morning. The simple reason being: "cuz we can.")

This year our family decided to forego buying presents for each other (with the exception of my 18-month-old nephew), as well as sitting down for some cliched turkey meal. (This was after conceding that no other food could possibly interest us as much as the shortbread cookies sitting on our kitchen counter, and therefore, we'd be wasting our time pretending to care about protein.)

All in all, it was a wonderfully self-indulgent Christmas. See highlights below.

- My Christmas Eve dinner: A few slices of processed ham and a handful of Doritos. And of course, shortbread cookies.

- My favorite present that wasn't mine: My nephew's rocking horse. It has the mechanics of a mechanical bull (i.e. it's bouncy and creates a rubberband-like, circular, back-and-forth motion), and is therefore, ahem, very pleasurable.

- My Christmas day entertainment: Two hours of "Teen Mom" on MTV. My stepmom, brother and I gathered around the television to critique the disfunction of the reality show's characters, relishing in the fact that they put our own disfunction to shame.

- My Christmas evening: In lieu of a crackling fireplace, my family and I sat in front of a 70-foot screen at the Ward Center Megaplex for the new George Clooney movie, followed by wine, maitais and a discussion about cougars (the women, not the cats).

In conclusion, it was a very blessed holiday indeed.



Because I too have to prove my worth on the family farm, these are the tasks I completed yesterday:

1. For my dad: Downloading an agriculture land use form off the Internet. (He just got his first email account this year and finds the whole Interwebs thing a hassle. This was a fitting assignment for me, having been dubbed "the brain" of the family, i.e. the only one to finish college.)

2. For my stepmom: Baking a rum cake. She was throwing a holiday party and needed a dessert. Naturally, she thought something that involved booze would be my forte. She was right. I added some extra Bacardi and licked the bowl.

3. For my dad: Keeping him company at the mall. His goal was to avoid the dozen or so of my stepmom's friends while they talked about babies, grandbabies, men and PMS and blew through 13 bottles of wine at the house. We came back at 10 p.m. to find most of them still chatting away in the living room. But at least I was able to steal the last piece of rum cake.



A few months ago my parents moved out of the family home where I was raised on Oahu. They now live on the country side of the island, on a farm in Waimanalo.

This is quite a change from the police sirens and mopeds that buzzed up and down the main drag of our old neighborhood of Kalihi Valley--chaos relegated to the background, and the price of living close to "town."

If my parents' removal from city life is an indicator of age (or maturing priorities), then their everyday life on the farm is concrete evidence of the give-a-shit, laid-back attitude that comes with age. This is not to imply my parents are cripples or inactive; my dad spends most of his day putzing around on a fork lift, while my stepmom cooks rum cakes and does paperwork as she overlooks the Koolau Mountains. But here on the farm, life, and therefore conversation about life, is indeed simpler, and often straight to the point.

Day 2 of my month long visit home:
[I walk into the kitchen to get a bowl a cereal. My Dad is staring out the window by the stove.]
Me: Good morning, Dad.
Dad: [Turns around.] I've got the runs.

Yesterday, 6:30 p.m., when the day is done but it's not quite dinnertime:
[My Dad, Brother and I are sitting on the front deck watching our two dogs hump each other.]
Brother: You should get Waldo fixed, Dad.
Dad: He is fixed.
[Waldo, a plump Dachshund, mounds Bandit, a slender, graceful Boxer, again and again. After several successful attempts, he eventually jumps off.]
Me: Dad, I don't think he's fixed. He's rockin' a boner.
[My Dad picks up oblong-shaped Waldo and turns him upside down. A pink, rock hard protrusion is indeed jutting out perpendicular to his body.]
Dad: [With deep, hoarse laughter.] Holy shit. Waldo's got a hammer! Look at that! That turkey! I thought he was fixed.
[More laughter. My brother, 23, buries his head in shame. Waldo prances around in front of us.]
Dad: [Still laughing.] Waldo, you've got quite a hammer for a little shit!
[My brother grabs the dog--from the front half of his body--and carries him around the corner of the house.]
Brother: I couldn't take it.



Since I'm leaving Portland for good in three days to head to Hawaii for a month, and then from there, moving straight to New York in the new year, I not only had to strategize wardrobes, but I had to scrutinize how much of my crap I really needed.

At first I planned to get everything I owned into 6 boxes, plus suitcases. I ended up with 15 boxes. Still, I didn't do too badly in the purging department.

Final count dumped:
- 12 large garbage bags shoved in my apartment's trash bins
- 5 bags of clothes, shoes and bags sold to Buffalo Exchange
- 3 boxes of books sold to Powell's
- 2 chairs, 1 sofa, 1 coffee table, 1 end table and 1 TV stand sold off of Craigslist
- Every pot, pan and appliance owned (except espresso machine and blender - Americanos and smoothies are necessities; baking, frying and boiling are not) donated to thrift store
- 1 Jeep Cherokee sold to a man who figured out within 48 hours that it was a piece of shit. (Too late sucka!)

One last view of my studio. Emptied and clean.

Of all purged items, these were the most internal dialogue-provoking:

1. Shot glasses. When it came time to individually wrap these suckers, I realized that I should be past the age where people (as in 20 people) come over and we all do shots together--no matter the circumstance, whether it's before heading out the door to go to a bar or after four beers. At least, I want to be this person, so I threw them away.

2. This brings me to the 9 wine openers I found. If I was to be judged here, let me say that I had only 4 shot glasses and 9 wine openers, therefore my mature drinking habits beat my immature ones. But honestly, these only served as reminders of how many waitressing jobs I've had. Most of them had a winery's name etched in them, a gift to restaurants from wine reps that are usually passed on to servers. I kept 4 of them. They didn't need to be individually wrapped.

3. Discman. I was about to throw this into a box with all the other junk stuffed in my desk drawer when the thought occurred to me, "Under what circumstance will I ever need to use this?" Even if my iPod died tomorrow, I would not find a way to strap this to my body and start running. I would not pack this my carry-on, mostly because then I'd have to carry around a bunch of CDs. Even if I did have a bunch of CDs I'd want to listen to, I'd have to go through them all and plan accordingly what I think I'd want to listen to several hours and days from now. And I'd have to buy some back up AA batteries. If I can get rid of an old cell phone, I can most definitely get rid of skipping, portable CD player with a "fuct" sticker on it.

4. Fondue set. In theory, melted cheese or chocolate would make the ideal dipping sauce for just about anything I like, such as bacon, pears and more cheese. But I never opened it. Sure, using it would take work, like buying the right chocolate and plugging it in, but I think my aversion to the contraption had more to do with the name: Nesting Fondue. I cannot stand the word "nesting"; it's almost as vomit-inducing as "settling," like "settling down." When I think of chocolate and cheese, and pouring such decadence over salty goods, while drinking a glass of a wine, toddlers, mortgages and 401Ks don't come to mind. Maybe "Fornicating Fondue" would've been more enticing.