Archive for February, 2014

Summer love

February 28th, 2014

June is a special month for Richard Soo. That's the month the former Honolulu Fire Department captain met the woman who would come to mean everything to him, Barbara Arincorayan.

Photo courtesy: Richard Soo

Photo courtesy: Richard Soo

"We were high school classmates at Kamehameha," he recalls. "After all those decades, we reconnected on Facebook last year."

Initially, it wasn't more than a platonic conversation with a schoolmate as their class geared up for their reunion. He didn't remember her, and had to look up her photo in the annual.

She remembered him as "a stuck up smarty in the advanced classes." She was a boarder, and he was a day student. At Kamehameha, the two groups of students don't usually mix.

The Facebook chats were friendly and interesting, and on a weekend when Soo was having a staycation in Ko`olina he invited Arincorayan to lunch. It was June 2013, and "there were sparks between us" he says. "We hit it off."

After their second date, Soo says he knew she was The One. "We can just sit and be together, and enjoy each other's company. We can talk freely," articulated Soo on what he loves about his lady friend.

"We have so much in common," adds Arincorayan. "He's easy to talk to. It just clicked."

Photo courtesy: Richard Soo

Photo courtesy: Richard Soo

This autumn romance is an unexpected blessing for them. Soo was long divorced, and had been raising two sons by himself. "I've been single since my younger son was in second grade. That son is now 19 years old!" says Soo.

Arincorayan had been widowed for five years and had not had children. On finding new love: "I was lonely, but I figured, if it happens, it happens. The time has to be right." She let fate take its course.

Neither says they expected to find love again, at age 63.

That's where the month of June comes into this story again. It was on a June day three years ago that Soo had gastric bypass surgery. "I went from 265 pounds to 160 pounds. I was overweight and had health issues, and had a family history of obesity. I was tired of struggling to bend over and tie my shoes. I decided to have the surgery and make a move towards wellness," he reveals.

In the first month, Soo lost 40 pounds. It took him two years to finish losing the rest, and to stabilize the weight. He had to learn a new lifestyle: New eating habits, new nutritional choices, new exercise routines. "I was bodysurfing and going to the gym. I felt really positive. I think it made me open my mind to the possibility of having love in my life again," he analyzes.

Photo courtesy: Richard Soo

Photo courtesy: Richard Soo

Just two months later, another event would occur - one that would open his heart, too. Soo says, "I had a devastating house fire. It really made me realize I should love what I do and who I do it with for the rest of my life, because life is short and fragile."

Fast forward to 2013, and a romance growing as fast as a wildfire. Within a few months, Arincorayan - or Honey, as Soo has taken to calling her on all his mushy Facebook posts - had moved in to his Papakolea house. A couple months after that, Soo proposed, in early 2014.

"We have a Crying Couch, where we sit, drink wine, and bare our souls. We were sitting on the Crying Couch when I told her I'm in love with her and want to marry her," he shares. Except nobody cried this time, and Honey said yes.

The wedding date's been set: August 16, at their house. The Crying Couch is ready.

The two have their Kamehameha Schools class of 1969 reunion this summer, too. "We'll be the hit of the '69 table!" he chuckles. A wedding and a reunion - and a lot to celebrate.

Below red

February 26th, 2014

A man who learned I'm a housewife now shared with me his experience in between jobs. He said it was great for a few months, but then he was bored, bored, bored after five months and dying to get out of the house.

I would like to experience that for myself. Here is why I have not, in my two periods of unemployment, had a chance to get bored. In a word: Olivia.

My daughter is six now and kids are SO much work. Just the one is making me crazy at times.

Olivia's teacher has a behavioral grading system of green-yellow-red lights that she marks on their daily tablet. Olivia comes home and I look to see what color she got each today. Her average week is: two greens, two yellows, one red.


It's disappointing but I'm learning to live with it. I mean, Paul's son has only ever had greens, so I know it's possible. We just keep trying to correct Olivia. I used to blow my top but I've since become slightly numb to it.

This kid came home the other day with not just her usual red light, but the tablet said BELOW RED. Seriously? Not just red, but BELOW red? I did not know there was a grade worse than red. Can you be badder than bad? F minus?

I asked her what she did but she didn't give me a very clear answer. I saw a teacher's aide as I left school so I asked Miss Pam, who explained it clearly to me. Apparently Olivia had been bad three times that day.

How is it that I have such a kolohe child? "Below red" had me seeing red.

I talk to her about how she can improve next time, but I know from history that "next time" is really just around the corner. What to do???

Scary movie

February 24th, 2014

I just watched Stuck in Love on Netflix. It is filed under comedy. I consider it a horror movie.

Every time a scene came up with teenagers doing something they shouldn't, I would get this curled up feeling in my stomach and worry about my little girl and all the trouble she might discover in the dreaded teen years.

There was a scene where a high school girl with a drug problem got high, slept with someone of questionable character who she might have just met at a party, and needed to go to rehab. I turned my face into my husband's arm to hide my eyes.

Other parents with older children are constantly, constantly saying, "Enjoy it while you can. It goes so fast." I can't tell you how tired I am of hearing it, yet also realize it's true.

Now, in all seriousness, Stuck in Love is a decent movie and it wasn't violent or horrible. I just can't believe how I've changed. Seven years ago, horror movies were filed in the horror section. Now, anything that shows kids in trouble or kids doing normal but naughty stuff is upsetting to me.

How has having children changed your viewing experience?

Ako doll

February 21st, 2014

In Shirokiya, my daughter noticed some kokeshi dolls for sale. We looked at them and picked our our favorites. We generally like pink, but she pointed out a doll with silver hair and a light blue kimono. Upon closer look, its name is Ako!

Ako doll

I looked at the box, and it said the doll is meant to encourage true love and lasting friendships. I don't like to collect stuff that will sit around on a shelf and take up space, but I'm a sucker for a good narrative, so I bought it.

Ako translates to "charming," according to the sticker on this kimmidoll brand. Curious, I looked it up later online. Apparently, it's a Japanese nickname to mean "cute." I did not know this, but I like it.

However, there was another website saying Ako is an Egyptian boy's name and it means "tired, weary." Oh, my. That is a name I do not want to live up to - yet it's true more often than I like!

What's in your name?

The next step

February 19th, 2014

Three and a half: that's exactly how many years I spent at my hotel job before making the difficult decision to leave earlier this month. It's about finding better balance in my life. I feel really good about this.

Farewell lunch at work

Farewell lunch at work

I have things going on in my personal life and appreciate now having the time to attend to that, including being a more active and participating mother to my six year old.

It was a great job. I learned an incredible amount about the industry as well as myself. I believe I bring a whole new skill set to the employment table, for when that time comes.

Emceeing UH's Travel Industry Management School dinner, April 2013

Emceeing UH's Travel Industry Management School dinner, April 2013

The job also made me a better traveler! I will never look at the hotel experience in the same way. Not after I've been allowed to stay in two $7,000 per night suites. I'm spoiled, ha ha.

I liked the job and I liked the people I worked with, both in the hotels and outside of it. I am very grateful for what was a wonderful experience. I have lovely friendships I take with me and fond memories of two beautiful properties.

With Chef Grant Achatz and PR friend Sean Morris at 2013 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

With Chef Grant Achatz and PR friend Sean Morris at 2013 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

2011 `Iolani Palace Renaissance Ball

2011 `Iolani Palace Renaissance Ball


As much as I was looking forward to the freedom of housewife status again, I was bummed for a few days after I left. It was not about losing my identity or having regret. My low-energy state surprised me for a while until I realized I need to process this transition the way one needs to acknowledge the end of any major chapter in life.

The day that mood lifted, I was walking on the street in downtown Honolulu. A beautiful monarch butterfly appeared in front of me and dive-bombed me. Having anything fly directly at me surprised me, and I actually raised my arm in front of my face and stepped sideways.

When I looked again, it had landed on my sleeve! I was surprised and pleased. I moved my arm to look at it closer, and it flew away. It was just there for a moment, but I felt touched and special.

A butterfly has never landed on me before. I decided to look at it as a good omen that the day, which had started out terrific, would continue to be great. It was.

Later, my friends Ed, Lori, and Mark pointed out that butterflies are a symbol of new beginnings, of the grace and beauty that change can bring, and a reminder to have faith in life's greater plan. I think that is a beautiful sentiment, and will carry that forward as I write the next chapter.

Here's to metamorphosis!

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