This time last year, I was working as a reporter for the Bay Area alt weekly The Pacific Sun. Now here I am, having been on island just long enough for the burn to turn to tan, steering the editorial department of this wacky, wonderful ship we call Maui Time.
Needless to say, the intervening months were filled with a lot of stops, starts and quirks of fate, none stranger than the Trading Places-esque, trans-Pacific switcheroo I pulled with former MTW Associate Editor and beloved Holoholo Girl Sam Campos. (Though in that analogy I’m not exactly sure which of us is Eddie Murphy and which is Dan Aykroyd. Probably I’m Aykroyd.) At any rate—Sam now has my old job at the Sun. She’s also how I first heard about the opening at Maui Time. Yeah, this tale’s got more twists than the road to Hana.
Ever since I touched down on Maui and assumed duties at MTW, I’ve been stewing on this bemusing convergence. It’s not often in life that you almost literally—and mostly unintentionally—swap spots with someone. I’m not one to get all cosmic, but there’s a Freaky Friday (to drop another only partially analogous film reference) link-in-the-universe kind of thing going on here.
When something sticks in my brain and refuses to vacate the premises, my first instinct is to write about it. Since I get paid for that activity anyway, I figured it made sense to think of a way to get the whole self-congratulatory Jacob-Sam storyline into the paper. Add the fact that, even though she’s been gone for over a year, I still get calls and e-mails inquiring as to the whereabouts of Holoholo Girl and it just seemed too obvious: It was time to call Sam, shoot the shit and get her on the record.
We found Holoholo Girl hiding out in a cubicle just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate and pinned her down (metaphorically speaking, of course) for a little Q&A session:
OK, first of all, why the hell did you leave Maui?
Yes, that is the most common question I’m asked, after incredulous people here on the Mainland find out where I’ve moved from. Now, exactly a year later the answer’s the same, although I let people come to their own conclusions. Looking back, I suppose I could’ve continued to live comfortably on Maui—10 years did go by so effortlessly, really. And I really had it good: a wonderful circle of friends, a fabulous job that gave me the opportunity to connect with a large group of awesome strangers, a boyfriend who loved me, a lovely house on the slope of Haleakala. But I was restless, hungry for more and different kinds of knowledge and experience. I wanted to travel more. I wanted to drive more than two hours and end up in a place I had never been before. And I wanted to see if I could make it as a writer on the mainland—and not just “make it,” but be a better writer. What I really wanted, and what I want more and more now, is to find a way to connect with a larger audience and inspire folks—whether it’s to get people to go eat at some overlooked taco stand, or to look at their life differently and not be afraid of the possibilities.
What three things do you miss most about the island, in ascending order? And don’t just list them; give us some reasons and stuff.
I’m gonna toss out the obvious answers: my friends, my family at Maui Time, the warm water. Because, as it turns out, what I’m currently missing most are those things that used to irritate the hell out of me when I lived on Maui: one-lane roads to everywhere (five-lane highways here don’t mean less traffic, by the way), having limited options for dining and nightlife-ing (sometimes too many options can be just as inhibiting), being forced to see classic ‘70s bands reunited (actually, Earth Wind & Fire rocked!) and writing the Holoholo Girl column. Plus, I miss the little things about Maui, like eating fresh mangoes off the tree in the backyard, off-roading my Jeep (oh, Rocky!) at La Perouse, having tourists ask me with glazed eyes if I “actually live here?”, stocking up on wooden nickels from the Sly Mongoose, seeing any Maui Film Festival movie at Celestial Cinema or the SandDance Theater, hungover days spent at Baby Beach with the Sugar Shack girls, that sultry smell of tuberose and guava that permeates parts of the island, and Hana, Hana, Hana. I know that’s not three, but tough.
How about some things you don’t miss?
Back in October, I posted the question “Why does Maui suck?” on MySpace. You see, I was really quite homesick for Maui, so I wanted people to remind me of all the things that irritated. And boy, did they respond. Some of the more common responses include: the seriously deficient dating pool, high gas prices and cost of living, running into exes and/or people you don’t want to see, the “Maui time” length it takes to get shit accomplished, dumb people and traffic problems. The thing I’ve discovered after a year living on the Mainland is that all these things exist here, too. Oh, but I don’t miss summers in Lahaina. I definitely don’t miss the grotesque overuse of fresh pineapple in everything. And I don’t miss centipedes.
What have you been up to since you hit the Mainland? Did I hear you worked at a daily? In LA? Gross.
When I first got here last summer, I lived in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco in a one-bedroom flat with a friend of a friend—a kickass rock drummer from the East Coast who did indeed party like a rockstar nearly every night. He ended up being on tour and away a lot though, so I became better acquainted with what I was convinced was our resident ghost. Because I didn’t yet have a job lined up, and my new neighborhood was consistently fogged in and freakishly cold, I mostly hung out at home in my bathrobe and as many layers of clothing as I could muster and still move my arms, sending out an ungodly amount of resumes and cover letters to every position-seeking newspaper, weekly, magazine and Internet media outlet I could find, to no avail. I ran out of money after two months and was fairly bumming that not one of the 200 or so positions I applied for led to anything substantial. I bit the bullet and took a couple of temp work gigs (where I met many an overqualified but unemployed art historian, microcellular biologist and travel book author) and even went as far as registering to be a test subject for experimental research at UC Berkeley—but even they didn’t want me.
Fortunately, I did have a couple friends to lean on in the city—even a couple who’d made the same move from Maui a few years ago—but they all said the same thing: “It takes time, be patient. You won’t be settled for about a year.” I had a really hard time swallowing that pill—patience is so overrated. After three months, I was freezing, exhausted, jobless, broke and alone; I started to doubt my abilities and wondered if I’d made a huge mistake in leaving the swooning comforts of Maui. I mean, really—what was I thinking?
So before I lost all hope, I decided to take a brief interlude at my parents’ house in Palm Springs. Although I generally detest Southern California, it was warm, and my folks fed me and kept the wine flowing. Just for kicks, I applied for a reporter position at the big Gannett daily newspaper there—the Desert Sun. They called me the very next day. Unbelievable. Okay, so it wasn’t in San Francisco but it was a job. Somebody wanted me! Yay! Just the offer alone was reassuring in that maybe I could actually make it as a writer on the Mainland. I had never worked at a daily before and figured I could use the experience, and the dough, so I took it as a three-month temporary gig. It was good fun and great pay—working for a corporate rag is more than a little strange, cultish even, coming from the freewheeling world of alt weeklies, but the people were kind and truly believed in what they were doing. However, my assignments bordered on hokey (Newsflash: Local golden retriever pup learns how to fetch the paper! I’m not kidding, that was an actual story they had me do). Also, the novelty of being back in my hometown—running into old high school boyfriends who were now, um, old—was fleeting. And although I love my parents dearly, living in their house again and answering to “When will you be home? Are you going out dressed like that?” got me to thinking that maybe I might be ready to resume the job-hunting up north.
Once I returned to the Bay Area, things started to look up. Thanks in large part to Tommy Russo (he’d make a very good pimp), I met a bunch of editors and publishers at an industry conference. And within a few weeks, prospective employers began calling. I lined up a few interviews—one with a wine mag, another with a Web start-up and a newswire—including what I thought was one of my worst performances at a meeting with the editor of the Pacific Sun. But apparently (and also, you might say, not shockingly), when I’m bad, I’m so much better.
You’re doing a new column now, right? The one I used to do. How did you manage to fill my enormous shoes?
Well, I don’t pretend to fill your shoes, darling, as much as it may pain some Marinites. (Believe me, you are missed here—it’s always “Jacob used to do it this way, Jacob would’ve done it that way, Jacob, Jacob, Jacob!” Geez.) But yeah, I’m doing a few of your old columns.
What other sort of messes, writing-related or otherwise, have you gotten into?
Yeah, I’m working on that. The Bay Area is a feast of freakly delights—both artistically and gastronomically, the place hosts a bold cornucopia of crazily creative endeavors so overwhelmingly fantastic and plentiful that it can be difficult to choose among them all. Oh, and I’m dating an American Conservatory Theatre graduate who runs one of the largest medical marijuana dispensaries in the country. So there’s that.
Would you do us a favor and tell your loyal readers that you’re totally not coming back even if we beg so they’ll stop leaving us nasty, pleading notes?
Damn you! Well, on behalf of your still loving fans and the old holdout staff at ‘Maui Time’, everybody totally misses you. Any parting words/shots?
That’s really very kind. I totally miss everybody, too. I’d just like to say that it was a real honor to serve and protect the dive-bar masses, and that everyone’s support and the memories of my time in the sandbox continue to carry me through the rough spots (and perpetual traffic jams at the toll bridges). And if you’re interested in seeing what I’m up to, or where I’ve been this past year, or you just wanna say hi, please check out my blog at holohologirl.blogspot.com. Thanks mucho! MTW