I’ve been diagnosed 

Imagine a cloud, a little personal cloud that follows you around. 

It’s black and grey, rumbling and pouring. 

And it’s heavy. As heavy as an elephant. 

It holds you down.

The weight makes you sulk. 

You no longer enjoy doing what you’d once loved. 

Even as a foodie, food doesn’t seem that appealing. 

The weight just forces you to lay down. To stay suspended in time. 

It leaves you in a dark room with all your worst thoughts. 

With no candle or match, you’re left to fend for your self. Against these beasts that know your worst fears and all your weak points. 

They beat you down until you have no spirit left. 

Until you no longer have the desire to do anything. 

You feel alone and lost. 

And to those you open up to, they can’t see these beasts you’re fighting. Or the cloud clinging to you. 

The doctors cause it a disease. 

Your friends call it nothing, or a bad day. 

I call it a leech- draining everything I have left. My unwanted friend, depression. 



I don’t know where to start. Since it’s sort of anonymous, I’ll start by saying I think I’m depressed. No I haven’t seen a doctor, how can someone measure feelings? 

I’ve been getting these old feelings again. The ones that creep up when I’m laughing with friends, and make me suddenly stop- mid laugh. The ones that make me sob to songs, or ponder my existence. 

I don’t know what to do with them. Maybe this will help.  


More Than My Skin

I can’t believe it’s only one more week until I get to meet some of the amazing people who’ve been contacting me since I started this project. Each of your stories are deeply personal and familiar to me. I know that they will be read and enjoyed by others going through their own journey. Feel free to share your own if you are so moved to be a part of this.

And so I’d like to introduce you to Jonah, from Maui. His girlfriend Tomiko had found my website and told me their story, which deserves a page of its own. Here’s what Jonah had to say:

“I’m from Kaupo, Maui, the countryside of Maui. My full name is Jonah Kaulanaokouinoaokalalani Baisa. I am 19 years old, but will be turning 20 this June.


 My vitiligo started when I was 5. The hardest thing that I had to face was to…

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Maui No Ka Oi (Maui is the Best)

So if anybody watches MTV or heard of the TV show Catfish, then they know what this story is about. No, I wasn’t on the show, but my story is just like the ones on it. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Catfish is a series of people talking and dating online, and finally meeting each other for the first time in person, sometimes they aren’t who they say they are, some are transgenders, or a completely different person than the one displayed online. It was started after the guy Nev made a documentary of him talking to a girl online, but she ended up being someone completely different.

In the summer of 2010, I was leaving southern California to go play a soccer tournament in Florida. I realized that there are a ton of other people in the world, and I could talk to them, almost like a pen pal. So I went on Myspace (what I had back then) and started my search. I wanted to do Hawaii because that is my favorite state, and ever since I was little I wanted to go there. I was searching and I ran into Jonah. I liked the quotes he had up so I added him. (The more detailed story is in my previous blogs.) He didn’t think it was weird and we texted off the bat.

It wasn’t long before I started to like him, and one day I told him, but his response back was that he didn’t believe in long distance relationships. We still continued to speak, however. But eventually we stopped talking, no reason, it just gradually died out.

About two years later, I graduated from high school, so college was on my mind. I had HPU, Hawaii Pacific University, in mind. I wanted more information about it or the islands, so I thought of asking Jonah since he lives there. I did, and ends up HPU is on Oahu, and Jonah lives on Maui. I had a ton of questions about Hawaii altogether.

We started texting each other everyday. Then we started texting everyday as soon as we wake up and until we go asleep. Then it transitioned to phone calls. Late night phone calls until the morning. Then I asked him to make a Skype. He didn’t want to at first, but he eventually did. With all this happening, we were growing  closer together. We ended up liking each other, not just me liking him.

We started talking in a “dating” matter for about 6 months, and it was during that time we knew we wanted to meet each other. But it wouldn’t be a little road trip, he is about 2,000 miles away, and it would have to be done by plane. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew what I had to do, since I was working, I bought my ticket to Maui, and he made arrangements to take care of me for Christmas and New Years.

My mother was freaking out, worried that he’s not who he says he is, what if he’s a serial killer, what if he tries to throw me over a cliff, what if he keeps me locked up, what if he’s a weirdo, what if he has anger issues and takes it out on me, etc. “Jeez mom, relax, I Skype with him everyday, and I met him family, you can’t fake all that.” Nope, no matter what I said she still worried, which is understandable, and everyone she told, they were in huge shock that I was doing this, especially because I was going by myself.

So Christmas Eve came, and my mom dropped me off at LAX. I was only a few hours early, so it didn’t help the anxiety. I Skyped with Jonah for a few minutes, using the one the airport offers. Eventually I got on board, and I sat with a weird Canadian couple for about 5 hours. Really, strange people.

Okay, moment of truth, I’m about to meet a guy I’ve known for 2 years. I was beyond nervous, shaking and walking funny. After walking for a while, I called him to figure out where he was. He was hiding behind a Christmas tree so I couldn’t see him; I got a glimpse of him walking to me and smiled and looked straight to the ground. We hugged, for a long time, I couldn’t believe it, finally in person, it felt unreal. The best part was, he was exactly who he said he was.

The first few days felt like a dream; his family was amazing and took me in like their own, even his little sister would call me sis. Although I had to visit the doctor about 3 times and was in serious pain, his family fixed me back up. His mom even had to help me in the shower once, “What a way to get to know someone’s parents”, she told me. But none the less, it was incredible how his family and I bonded.

Jonah showed me around his island, from a native’s perspective, so it was like a tour guide, but even better, because his heart was with the land. He opened up and showed me everything he could in what limited time we had. He drove me to Hana, and we stopped at a freshwater cave. After Hana, we continued, and he made another stop, a waterfall, we had to walk barefoot more than half of the trail. His ways were changing me, but I wasn’t complaining, I felt free. I felt like this was home.

We continued on the road, even when it turned to a dirt road, we were now in Kaupo, where he is originally from. It’s almost like the country side of Maui, Rolling hills, cows, ranches, no lamp posts. I loved it, we even saw an owl hunting for bugs as we drove.

New years, I met his Portuguese side of the family, they got crazy with fireworks, it was really awesome. His mother hugged me, and told me,”Welcome.” As in, I’m apart of the family now. I teared up a bit. I didn’t want to leave, but sadly I had to, two days later. However, his parents bought a new ticket for me to return to LA one day later, I am extremely grateful for that, and all that they have done while I stayed there.

Leaving was the hardest thing I had to do in my life. The last day, you have to be happy because you’re still there, but in the back of your mind is that burning fact, you’re not going to be here anymore. By the end of the day, it was eating me away. His parents has their last words with me, his mom even teared up as we hugged goodbye. I got into Jonah’s truck, and started crying as I saw them all come out in the rain, and standing there until I left. I started bawling on our way to town, I couldn’t stop myself. I grew so attached to the Baisa’s in such little time.

Jonah and I ate sushi, as our last night together, then headed to the airport. He started to tear up, then I started to. We’ve come a long way in just two weeks, now we were boyfriend and girlfriend, so leaving was even harder. As we entered the airport, I took notice of his red eyes, and knew mine were probably just as red. We got to the final part, where I had to go on my own. I hugged him and left with sniffles but was only a few steps away till I had to go back into his arms and say that I didn’t want to leave. He said I had to before I miss my plane. So I let go again, and walked on, without looking back.

Once the plane took off, I shed a few tears, not knowing when I’d return, hating the feeling of leaving that family, of my family. When I arrived back in California, it was a depressing welcome, but I shook it off, because I was going to see my mom and my sisters. My mom picked me up and took me to work with her, I couldn’t stop blabbing on about everything that happened. It was the best two weeks of my life.

Once at her work, I stayed in the truck to hopefully get some rest, but I looked through one of my bags and noticed a card. I opened it and the card said “Just a hug… Just for you…”, inside it said “Just because”, along with $150. Ku’uipo (Jonah’s mother) wrote,

We are so happy to finally meet the one person that makes our son smile the way that you do. We have been blessed by your presence in our lives. ALL of our lives! Jonah has been waiting patiently for all these past months for your arrival. Now that you are here, it will be especially hard to see you depart, (if only for a little while). These are very hard, but very adult choices that the two of you face. Just know this, both of you are not alone. We will be here for the both of you. Because Jonah chose you to be part of his life, you have become a part of our lives. Again, we have been blessed by you. Jesus is the very center of our lives and he has given us a wonderful gift. The gift of prayer. We will be praying for the both of you. We have been since we found out that you two were getting close. We believe that Jesus will make a way when there is no way. Because we believe, we can find joy in seeing you soon and be patiently anticipating the reunion. We have grown very fond of you. You will take a bit of our family with you, and we will keep a bit of you with us. God bless you and we will see you soon!

Love and Aloha

-The Baisa’s aka Mom and Dad, and Shanna

I started to tear up when I read it, and she knew me well enough to know not to hand it to me, but sneak it in my bag because I would have gave back the money. I was apart of their family, they took me in, and now their house is always open to me. Jonah gave me a ring when he asked me to his girlfriend. It is beautiful, made in Hawaii, and engraved in it is the phrase “ALOHA AU IA ‘OE” which means “I love you” in Hawaiian. It was him saying that he will always be in my life. Something that I truly believe.

I decided to share this story to the world, or who ever wants to click and read it.  Because maybe there are some that are in a similar situation. I’ve told this story to my coworkers, and they are all happy for me, and wish to meet him. He’s going to come to Cali for my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and stay for two weeks, it’s my turn to show him my world, although it may not be as amazing as his. Disneyland, Knott’s, Six Flags, Santa Monica, Venice, are just a few places I’m going to take him to.

I only worry that not only will it be so different than what he is used to, but my family.

My mother and grandpa feel as though I have my whole life ahead of me, so why settle for a guy so early, and who is so far away. I also want to move there to continue my schooling at Maui college, but my mom thinks I’m going to throw my life away and be a beach bum. I don’t see how if I’m going to continue to go to school. All together, it is very frustrating and conflicting. But all I can do is stay true to myself, and hope that He will guide me down the right path. But no matter what, I’m not letting go of that stranger I met on Myspace.


Finals. Crunch time. Coffee. Catnaps. Late nights. Cramming. Procrastination.
Basically churning up your brain for zombies to drink.


Of my eighteen years, I’ve never had anyone to look up to. When I was in elementary school, and we would have to do some sort of activity about an idol, or a hero, I wouldn’t have any. I felt like I was the only one, I would have to make up someone, like Walt Disney (he draws well and spreads happiness) or Jim Carry (he makes people laugh… horrible idols).

I’m the oldest of my 5 other siblings, so I had no trail to follow, I was the experiment; I had no one to look up to, no example to live by. I couldn’t choose a parent as a hero or idol because then there would be arguments as why I have a favorite, and plus, I don’t want to end up like either one.

But I guess now, it’s safe to say that I have a hero. Someone who saved me, not literally speaking. I’m not talking about a dashing guy in tights, just someone as simple as a friend that stuck around. When I tell him or myself that I have he’s my hero, it really feels weird, almost foreign to my tongue. I’ve never said those words to anyone.

Being a hero doesn’t require super-abilities or a cape, although they do look pretty bad ass. All it took was for someone to stick around. Not say that they’ll always be there, just like every generic person says, but rather actually stay by your side no matter what. And I mean even if everyone you know is against you, even if society is against you (I hope I’m not encouraging riots or rebels to rise). Even when you are told to leave, and you still stay. Someone to lean on is all it takes to save one. Support, encouragement, loyalty, honesty,care. That’s what it took to save me.

So for anyone that is alone, or doesn’t have someone to count on or fall back on, don’t lose all hope. Because there is someone out there that will rescue you. Maybe not the best timing, of course, but along the road, you’ll bump into someone who is worthy enough to call your hero.

HI&CA: The New Hawaiian Boy

Jonah, an old name I haven’t spoken about in a while, but now, it was brought up so frequently. But he wasn’t the old Jonah I knew. He was different. No more smiles on his pictures, not even in his texts. You looked anywhere, this kid hardly smiled. But I remember that first day we spoke, he was all smiles. I didn’t want to bug him about what happened to him. I stuck to what my objective was. I asked plenty of questions about Hawaii. I probably sounded like an annoying tourist to him. The next day, I texted him, and the day after that, and the day after that.

I started to notice, that even thought he didn’t smile, he somehow managed to make me smile. That old happiness returned. I wasn’t sure if I was giving back the same feeling. Since the guy I was with at the time only argued with me, we were hanging by a thread. And now all my attention was Jonah. I started getting curious, I wanted to dig deeper than just bland questions about Hawaii. I found an  old travel book about Hawaii. I looked at the maps, skimmed about every island. I pin pointed where Jonah was, I read about Maui endless times, I asked him about legends, that were briefly mentioned in the book. He wouldn’t let me in. It wasn’t necessarily hostile, but he wouldn’t budge.

It took time, it was like comforting an animal that was defensive and ready to strike, I had to show that I meant no harm. I told him a Mexican legend. In return, he told me a Hawaiian one. He was very protective over it, because I was an outsider, he thought I wouldn’t accept it the way he does. I’m not a tourist, in fact, I love discovering other cultures, I’m slightly obsessed with the Native American culture.

Very slowly, he began to open up. Even an occasional smile. I would get super hyped knowing that I was able to make him smile, since now they were rare, they had more value to it. Jonah would say he was spoiling me based on how many smiles I would get out of him. We starting staying up late, like realllly late. And texting starting to not be good enough, we starting calling each other, spending hours on the phone. Laughing together, or at each other, since the way we spoke was so different than what we’re used to hearing. It was addicting, I couldn’t help it; it started to be an everyday thing.

I didn’t notice how close we were getting until one day he didn’t really text me, and I was worrying like an over controlling parent on prom night. What was I getting into? I had no idea, but i kept digging deeper.

I was tired of staring at pictures of him on Facebook, I wanted to see him. I asked him to make a Skype. I could easily tell it wasn’t his thing, but I kept bugging him to, I mean asking. Finally, he made one, just for me (lovely isn’t it?). Oh gosh, I’m getting super nervous how I was with phone calls a few years back. Shoot. He said he’s on, maybe I shouldn’t have done this. Oh my glob. I couldn’t step back now, I stood my ground, and got on. I was a nervous wreck, I couldn”t even look at him in the eyes. I felt like such a weenie. I didn’t think that seeing him with movement would make such a difference. Maybe it was the fact that he could see me. I don’t know but I felt so awkward, I felt like I failed.

Oh wait, now I recall why I was a hot mess. Because a few nights before that. I know that I broke up with the dude I was with. I depended heavily on Jonah to lift my spirits, although I never mentioned it. He was my motivation to strive to all that I can (that’s another story). But one night, over the phone, I couldn’t hold it in again, I had feelings for him, stronger than the last time. However, I held my tongue, I didn’t want a relationship since I was just getting out of one, but I felt such a strong urge to tell him how I feel. I was beating myself up, holding my words back, biting my lip, I eventually blurted it out, assuming that it’ll be the same as last time. I just figured, let it out, you’re just going to mess it up again. Idiot, why can’t you show some self restraint? I started breaking down, crying. But something different happened this time.

He told me something that went like this, hey Tomiko, you know this little bird told me that he likes you too? Wait, what? He likes me. He likes me too! It’s different this time! I was so happy, even though I probably looked disgusting, it was such a relief.

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