... a blog to make sense of the world through writing and acts of creativity, to reflect on and respond to the crazy world in which we live. Can beauty, creativity, compassion, and activism emerge from this tension?
Gosh, What a year that was! It's hard to believe I haven't added a post to this blog since my last review of the year a year ago. I did add to my travel section, but not to this page. I recently did some reflection on whether or not to keep this website going, and wrote about it on my Medium page. The conclusion was - I will keep up the website and put more effort into it this year. But regarding my review of 2019: Here goes, in mostly chronological order:
1. New iPhone XS and more
Around New Year's last year, I bought a new iPhone. I had broken the screen of my previous iPhone 6 while in Japan, and though it was still functional, I figured it was time for an upgrade. took this photo on the way home from Costco, and it has been my home screen since. The salesman at Costco was very good, and asked what I wanted from my phone. I said that taking nice photos was important to me, so he suggested this one rather than the XR. I'm glad I did, but had iPhone regret when the 11 came out. At some point, I also got an iPad and an Apple Pencil.
2. Volcano Park Visit
In March, I went on an excursion with the Kona Historical Society to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It was a mini road trip with daughter Dance, who came as staff. (She has since been promoted to be the Executive Director. That's another one for this list.) This was a great excursion as Kilauea had stopped erupting in September of the year before, after being very active since 1983. We saw some of the changes to the landscape as a result of the recent activity.
3. Three Generations of Aoki Women
In March, Dance was promoted to be the Executive Director of the Kona Historical Society. She came in in 2016 at the lowest level of the totem pole, and worked her way to the top. I know this isn't MY accomplishment, but it did make my year. Shayne (my older sister) was visiting at the time and this was taken at a party to say farewell to the outgoing director and welcome the new.
4. Art Immersion in Oaxaca, Mexico
At the end of March, I headed to Oaxaca, for the second time in my life. It was for an art immersion tour with Jewel Murphy, whom I had met when I was there in 2007 (? - need to check that date). This was a combination of an art tour, in which we visited artists and went to museums and galleries AND actually made art. The pieces above are what I made, and at the end of our week together, we had a showing of our work and a party. I will add this to my travel section soon. When I look back on my photos, I am taken aback by how full it was. We were a nice group of beautiful women! Incredible tour!
5. Oaxaca Spanish Magic
I'd always wanted to take Spanish lessons. It was my first second language when I took it from Señora Camacho in 8th grade and I still remember some of it. I had two weeks between the art tour and the storytelling one I signed up for, so this was the perfect time. I chose Oaxaca Spanish Magic out of the many schools here. When I saw this butterfly and sat in the patio early for class, I knew I had made the right decision., I don't think I took many pictures here, but my teacher was great.
6. Llano Grande Hike
I had read about these Pueblos Mancomunados, communities in Oaxaca that are self-governing by the communities there, and generally providing eco-tourism as one sustainable way to generate income, There are cabins in which you can stay and also longer hikes that will take several days. I opted for a day hike. It was a long ride there and back, but very much worth it.
7. Storytelling Workshop with Jim May
Jim was the reason I was in Oaxaca in the first place. I met Jim at a storytelling conference held in Honolulu, went to a workshop of his in Illinois when I was in Chicago for the NEA convention. I believe it was 2008 when I made it to his Oaxaca workshop, held at Casa Colonial. That’s when I met Jewel, who also uses the Casa for her workshop/tour. Jim’s 2019 workshop fell two weeks after the art tour. Perfect! Like bookends. What a good plan.
8. Hawaii Songwriting Festival
Not the best picture and a but dude-heavy, but you get a sense of the awesomeness at this annual festival. In this picture: Kenny Loggins, John Cruz and Henry Kapono! I was lucky enough to have a speed mentoring session with Henry Kapono this year. (Last year, I had John Cruz!)
9. Back to Guam
How nice to be back on Guam and to have dinner with my "tribe." Some of them anyways.
10. Pacific Circle Consortium
I did a presentation at this education conference hosted by Pacific Historic Parks, with whom I have been doing projects. I also was a room host. My presentation was on our project, Monologue at the Museum, an offshoot of the Day at the Museum project that I had been involved in as well.
11. Day at the Museum Performances
So, with the Monologues that I had helped students write in the fall of 2017 and summer of 2018, a new show was formed and performed! I was involved behind the scenes as an adult backstage, but these were such awesome teens, and they had been well-trained already by the time I came on board. It was thrilling to see this come to life like this. Kudos to all involved!
12. Monologue at the Museum 2019
This is the third iteration of this project which started at Oceanview High School in 2017. Students applied to be part of this writing project in which monologues are written from research that they conducted on their subjects. This contributes to a body of work from which performances can be drawn at a later date.
13. Tokyo Visit
On my way back to Guam, I stopped in Tokyo. More on my travel page soon.
14. A Cage of Fireflies
As soon as I got back to Kona, I jumped in to help with the production of A Cage of Fireflies, a play by Daniel Akiyama (a friend of Dance's from Honolulu), and directed by Dance at the Aloha Theatre. I was a producer and a "ninja" stage hand. It was a sweet, intense play about aging Okinawan sisters.
15. O'ahu Visit
I went to house-sit and dog-sit for cousin Jodi for a week in September. It was great to return to this island that I once called home.
16. Back in Oaxaca
I will count this visit as two things, the City and the Mountains.
17. Ixtlan de Juarez, Oaxaca
A retreat completely disconnected from technology for a week. More on this to come.
18. Mauna Kea
I needed to visit. I'm glad I did.
19. New Plays
In 2018, Dance had led a playwriting group that continued in 2019, for a little while. During this time, there was a cold reading, and the play I had worked on in 2018 was read. This was about the death of Anthony Bourdain and the ghosts of Vietnam. It was submitted to the Kumu Kahua Playwriting Contest, but did not win. Then in 2019, I worked on a play about aging, being Okinawan, and is NOT autobiographical (except for when it is.) I submitted it to an anthology about the Okinawan experience in Hawaii, and 3 scenes from the play will be published in the anthology. The anthology will come out for the 120th Anniversary of Okinawans to Hawaii in 2020.
20. "Why Do You Have to Be That Way?" Song Story
I wrote this song, (Soundcloud link) and when I wrote it, I thought it would be good with a ska beat. As luck would have it, I contributed to a Guam ska band's tour fund, and one of the perks was that they would record a song of our choosing. I asked if they'd do an original and they said yes. I don't know if they will ever do this again because it was quite a lot of work, it seems to me. But I really like the way it sounds. I'd like to do more with it.
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.