Tag: marriage

10 Things to do in Kauai, Hawaii, with Your Wife Before You Die

Credit Joseph Lapin
Credit Joseph Lapin
Just over a month ago, my wife Heron and I returned from our first trip to Hawaii. We stayed on the island of Kauai, which is the fourth largest of the islands on the archipelago, and it’s nicknamed the “Gardens Isle” because it’s filled with rain forest, beautiful hibiscus, and incredible birds, including the Brazilian Cardinal. It rains quite a bit, but the weather is pleasant (I’m sure some entrepreneur could bottle the air and sell it to snowbirds), and the ocean is refreshing. If you look at a weather report or the North Shore, then you’ll probably see that it’s supposed to rain all week, but it rains somewhat like Florida: on and off. Kauai also has an extensive cinematic history. Jurassic Park and a scene from Indiana Jones were filmed here. According to local legend, Ben Stiller lives in Kauai and runs around the island, and Peter, Paul, and Mary wrote “Puff the Magic Dragon,” when they came and visited the “Garden Isle.” Because I loved the place so much, I decided to write a top 10 list of things to do with you wife before you die. Since I’ve had such fun experiences with lists and dying, I thought I would try it again. Here we go.

Credit Joseph Lapin
Credit Joseph Lapin

Hike Kauai with Erik

We wanted to hike, but we wanted a guided tour — someone to walk us through hidden spots and tell us about local culture — and we were lucky to find a great guide (Hike Kauai with Erik) on travel advisor who brought us to some interesting locations that most tourists probably wouldn’t get to see. He took the photo above.

Credit Joseph Lapin
Credit Joseph Lapin

Zipline at Koala

Before Hawaii, I had never been zipling, and it’s something I have wanted to cross off the bucket list for years. I finally convinced my wife to join me, and we ziplined on the property of Steve Case, one of the founders of AOL. The property was also used for filming the newest Jurassic Park. It was a rainy day, but the rain doesn’t stop you from zipling. As the guide said: “It’s a Hawaiian blessing.”

Credit Joseph Lapin
Credit Joseph Lapin

Rainbow Joes

Wonderful food truck. Definitely off the beaten path. It’s kind of in an industrial complex. The owner is crazy energetic, and the food is unique and fresh. Don’t miss.

Credit Joseph Lapin
Credit Joseph Lapin

St. Regis

The photo above is the view from the St. Regis. It’s expensive to stay there, but I recommend at least stopping in for a drink and watching the sunset. By the way, would you say the mountain looks like a dragon? That might actually be puff.

Credit Joseph Lapin
Credit Joseph Lapin

Na Pali Coast

The Na Pali Coast is considered one of the deadliest hikes in the world, and we ventured about two miles along the path. The photo above is taken from a spot on a ledge. The wind was blowing so hard that I lost the cap to my lens. I did not venture down the ledge to find it. The hike is actually slippery and, at times, treacherous. But don’t let fear stop you from witnessing all the beauty out there.

Photo Credit Joseph Lapin
Photo Credit Joseph Lapin

Paddle Boarding in Hanalei

In Hanalei, which is on the North Side of the island, there is a river that runs into an animal sanctuary. We rented a paddle board right near the center of Hanalei and paddled into the animal sanctuary. We saw a family of turtles resting on a log and heard countless birds that we could not name. If you think of the word animal sanctuary and you’re worried about being in the wild, then keep in mind that Hawaii has no predatory species. (Nothing that will hurt you.) At least, according to Erik, our hike guide.

Photo Credit Joseph Lapin
Photo Credit Joseph Lapin

The Prime Rib Night at the Westin 

We stayed at the Westin Hotel on the North Shore the first two nights, and I took the photo above from our balcony. Our room overlooked the golf course. It was pleasant. The best part about the stay, however, was their prime rib night. I believe it was Thursday, and it was probably the best prime rib I have ever had.

Credit Joseph Lapin
Credit Joseph Lapin

Friday Night Festival in Hanapepe

On Friday nights in Hanapepe, the home of the most western bookstore in the United States (you’ll have to buy a book if you have to take a piss), the town closes down the main street for a fair. They have incredible food, including hot dogs with lechon, and many other delicacies served from food trucks and carts. They have music and are so friendly. This is on the south side of the Island, so I suggest pairing it up with a trip to Waimea Canyon if you’re staying on the north.

Waimea Canyon

9. Waimea Canyon 

On the south side of the island, the landscape changes, and you will find what Mark Twain called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It’s a far drive to the south side from the north side, but you’ll be grateful you made the trip to see the site above.

Bianca on top of the mountain


While there is a lot to see in Kauai, just make sure you find some time to reflect with your wife. You only have one life, so I suggest you take the time to be in the moment before it’s gone. Breathe in the fresh air from the top of a fucking mountain and be in love. Do it!

Big Kahuna

Key West is Driving 100 M.P.H. Over the Seven Mile Bridge

Key West Final

Today is Labor Day, and I have the day off. I went hiking at Griffith Park, and I’m working on some stories and other miscellaneous writing, but I’ve also been reading. What I found is that everyone and their mother, right now, is writing about two things: Labor Day and the leak of nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton. There has been such incredible writing on this subject (See this essay by Roxane Gay at The Guardian and another by Anne Helen Petersen at BuzzFeed), but I’m not going to write about these events. I was thinking about writing about privacy; I was thinking about writing about work; but I want to write about something completely off the radar: Key West.

I’m working on my application for the Key West Literary Seminar Young Emerging Writer Award. I’ve applied to enough writing programs to know not to get my hopes up, but I would love to have the opportunity to surround myself with writers in one of my favorite places in the country for a week or so. That’s when I started to think about writing about the Florida Keys.

I received my MFA from Florida International University in Miami, Florida, and I would often head down to the Keys on the weekends. One time my buddies and I camped down at Long Key, and I brought my snorkeling equipment. The tides were strange, so you could walk out into the ocean for almost 100 yards without the water rising over your waist. I wandered around in the water, trying to explore the ocean and the exotic fish that live in the Keys as the sun went down. When I emerged from the water and walked back to the beach, my buddies were laughing. It turned out that there was a warning in the bathroom that it was Man-of-War season, and I was lucky that I hadn’t been stung by those giant floating brains.

Photo Credit: Joseph Lapin
Photo Credit: Joseph Lapin

But when I think about Key West, I really think about one memory that has stayed with me for many years.

When I was in my second year of graduate school, I was driving home from class to meet my fiance and her friend for dinner. I was stopped at a red light, waiting to merge onto the I-95 ramp — the most dangerous highway in the country — and I was thinking about a story I was writing called “A Crash in Boston.” The light turned green, and I hit the gas in my 2002 Buick LeSabre. There were about two cars ahead of me, and when it was my turn to drive through the light I saw the car approaching from the opposite direction. I knew instantly that the car was not stopping, and I prepared myself for the crash. The driver, an old man who was lost and searching for the highway, had blown the red light. He slammed into me at about 30 or 40 m.p.h.

I wasn’t hurt, but my car was pretty banged up. They towed my car, which my grandparents bequeathed to me when they passed away, and the insurance company had said it was totaled. That was a bunch of bullshit. The axle was just bent and the body needed some work. Whenever you have a car that the insurance company tries to total, and you know that you can get more mileage out of that car, don’t take their shit. Demand that they fix the car. That’s, in fact, what you pay them for.

So I pitched a fit, and they eventually agreed to fix my car. In fact, I was so angry that they offered to pay for my rental in the meantime.

Key West Car

Enter the Dodge Challenger. At the Enterprise in Coconut Grove, the guy at the desk put me in a brand new Dodge Challenger. The car just basically debuted on the road, and this specific ride had only 300 miles. Now I was never a big fan of muscle cars — or even really cared about cars — but when I was put behind that Dodge Challenger after driving around in my Buick LeSabre, I couldn’t help but feel like a bad ass. I decided, right then, that I was taking this bad body down to Key West, and I was bringing my fiance and my dog, Hendrix.

You might not know this unless you’ve driven to the Keys, but driving from Miami to Key West is one of the most beautiful road trips in the country. Perhaps the drive down the Pacific Coast Highway from around San Francisco to L.A. rivals this drive (I actually wrote about this voyage at the LA Weekly), but there isn’t anything quite like driving over the countless keys and seeing the strangest sites like giant metal lobsters on store fronts or the stunning views of the oh-so blue ocean that suddenly engulfs you and provides the illusion that you’re passing through some large and cosmic painting. I couldn’t wait to hit the open road with the Dodge Challenger, and I couldn’t wait to take that car over the seven mile bridge.

Photo Credit: Tinsley Advertising
Photo Credit: Tinsley Advertising

The seven mile bridge is the king of the causeway, the grand daddy of all ponts, because you’re literally driving on a bridge for seven miles over the bluest ocean you’ll find in the United States.

So my wife, Hendrix, and I are in the Dodge Challenger, and we’ve got the windows down, and Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” blaring through the speakers. We hit the beginning of the seven mile bridge at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday. The road is empty. Not another car in sight. The bridge opens up into the water, and on all sides of us, we find the Atlantic Ocean. We’re in the middle of the sea, and I just push that peddle down to the ground, crossing over 100 m.p.h.

For me, this is Key West; this is the Florida Keys: taking a car that I can’t afford and probably shouldn’t be driving to the limits. We’re half way over the bridge when my fiance starts to tell me to slow down.

“Relax,” I say, “I want to see how fast this thing can go.”

She says something else, but I can’t hear her over the music and the open window.

“What?” I say. I watch her mouth move. “I can’t hear anything you’re saying.”

She powers off the radio and says: “Slow down.”

“Come on, Heron. How often to I get to drive a Dodge Challenger?”

It’s funny, now, thinking about how big of a deal I thought it was to drive a hunk of steel at high speeds. I remember pushing down harder on the pedal as if to spite her.

“Slow down,” she says again. “You’re going to get arrested.”

About 100 feet ahead of us, I can see a rise in the bridge. It’s the closest thing to mountains in Florida, and I feel myself giving in, secretly pissed that she is killing my time. I take my foot off the pedal as I’m approaching the rise in the bridge.

“Are you happy?” I ask.

Heron doesn’t say anything. She just looks out the window at the ocean. She’s pissed that I have to make her the responsible one, the rational one.

When we come down the other side of the hill, I see something I will never forget: two police cars hiding just beyond the tree line at the end of the bridge, waiting to write me a ticket. I didn’t even have to look over at Heron to know she was smiling. I had slowed down in time, and the cops didn’t follow me, but I’m sure they would have loved to pick up some young asshole in a brand new muscle car with a Massachusetts license. Even if she wasn’t actually smiling, I knew she wanted to, because she just saved me. She saved our trip. If the police had seen me driving over 100 m.p.h., then I would have surely been handcuffed and thrown into the back of the police car for reckless driving.

That trip to Key West taught me a lot about relationships, about marriage (Heron is now my wife), about trust. When you’re married, you have to know when to listen to your partner. This goes true for any relationship. You might think you’re in the fast lane, but your partner might actually see you’re heading for a speed trap, an accident, an arrest, a failure, and even when you think you’re right, even when you think you know everything, you should probably think twice and just listen to what the other person has to say and trust, because there might be two cops waiting with a radar gun. We ended up having a blast in Key West, and I’ll never forget that bridge, that car, that journey, those cops.




The Marriage Blog: I put a ring on it

La Bella Imagery: Megan LeeAnn Doyle

So I’m married…and I’m a writer. Some said it couldn’t be done. Others said it was a myth. But yes, I am a writer, slaving away at night and working a demanding job during the day…and I’m married.

When I was younger — let’s say around college — I wanted to transform my life into the image of what I imagined a writer to be. Think of Hemingway wandering through the streets of Paris, perusing the women like he later hunted Kudu in Kenya. Or Jack Kerouac, hopping on freight trains and shacking up with random women who lived in everything from adobe to train stations. A writer needed to know how to live. As for marriage, that wasn’t living.

Peto's Pic

Shortly after developing this idea of a writer, I remember I went through a huge philosophy phase; I read Nietzsche, Rousseau and Plato instead of going out and hanging with my friends. It was wonderful to open myself up to ideas, and I soaked up every line, branding their messages into my DNA…until one philosopher just rubbed me the wrong way.

His name was Schopenhauer. I wanted to read him, because Nietzsche kept alluding to him; so I figured, well, Nietzsche isn’t god, but he killed him: probably should listen. When I started to read, I was instantly turned off, because Schopenhauer kept telling me that if I wanted to find truth, understanding and knowledge, well, then I should just give up everything…especially love.

Love was a distraction. Love was evil. Love was an opium that deluded me from truth and understanding and life…really?

Sadly, for a time in my life, I believed that to be the case. That was before I understood what love actually was. That was before I understood that, for me, being a writer was forever attached to commitment and loyalty. That was before I saw my bride walk down the aisle for the first time — before I said my vows and made an eternal promise — before I walked away a changed man.

It’s funny how much I’ve changed on the idea of marriage, but it really comes down to finding the right person. I remember the day I realized I wanted to marry Heron. I was riding a bike with fellow FIU writer Nick Vagnoni, Pete B and David J. Gonzalez, the creator of Cabinet Beer Baseball Club, along the intercostal in North Miami Beach. Suddenly, it just hit me: I had found someone forever. Literally, I took my hands off the handler bar and screamed at the top of my lungs: “I’m going to marry her. I’m going to marry her.” Since that moment, I never looked back.

Planning the Wedding Isn’t Easy…But It’s Worth It

If you’re someone coming to my site, because you’re planning a wedding, then let me tell you this: the planning gets crazy a few weeks before the wedding. Maybe that seems obvious. But what’s really wild is the variable you can’t plan. For example, you might not have food like you planned; you might have under budgeted; you might not be able to find a band; you might find that your wedding venue has been overbooked. So just remember, in the end, it will all work out. It’s worth the effort.

But how will you capture the day of events? How will you remember them?

Of course, you’ll need a photographer for professional photos, but what I found to be one of the best experiences, so far, is that all of our friends and family started to share their personal photos on social media, especially Facebook. I loved seeing my friends’ shots, and it was instant access for me to relive the memories.

Social Media and the Wedding

At one point, I was looking at the photos that were posted on Facebook from our wedding, and I started to think about what was going to happen to all these photos. Should I save them or print them out and put them in a box somewhere forever? Should I save all the files in my iCloud? And how would these photos age? Could they be just like the portraits from my grandparents or would they stay on the internet always as timeless pendants of a long time ago? While digital photos won’t erode, they will still age, right?

It’s weird to think about how my grandchildren will look at my wedding. It’s going to be completely different from my parents and especially my grandparents. Just think about the way social media is influencing our lives and changing the we way record it. How will my grandchildren interact with this vine taken by my good friend Clayton Dean?

Remember, Stay in the Moment…Though It’s Impossible

Yes, social media is changing the way we reflect upon our memories, but that shouldn’t give us an excuse to not live in the moment…to be tweeting about a wedding while it was happening. And being present while your family is pulling you seven which ways and talking to uncles — though awesome — makes it impossible to remember to be in the there, in the zone, with your loved one. It’s essential to take those opportunities and allow those moments to surprise you and just take in the event…it might even happen after the wedding. Look for the small details.

Let me tell you about one of those moments I will never forget. Heron and I were flying back to Los Angeles, and we stopped in the Atlanta airport to hop on our connection to LAX. Heron and I had a couple of drinks, and we were laughing and smiling and being generally in love as we moved throughout that monstrous airport in Georgia. Well, I had been carrying a picture of my grandparents in my jacket pocket, and when Heron wasn’t looking at me, I would sneak glances at the photo.


Everything I know about love — I’m talking about commitment and ideology here — comes from my grandparents, Eleanor and Raymond Cain. They went through so much together in their 55 years of marriage. And they loved each other until the day they died. They couldn’t be there at our wedding, but they were there with me in everything I said and thought.

They were on my mind when Heron stepped into a store, and I took out the photo and started staring at them on their wedding day. They looked so happy and young and alive. That’s when I heard a voice.

“What’s that you looking at?” a voice asked.

I turned around, and it was a janitor who was cleaning one of the bathrooms.

“It’s my grandparents,” I said. “I was just married.”

And in that moment, talking with a janitor outside of a bathroom in the Atlanta airport, the moment really hit me. It was true. It was real. It will be a moment I’m always trying to recapture.

How I’ve learned I will always be a teacher

Tomorrow morning, I will be talking to some students at my former graduate school, Florida International University, where I used to teach composition and received my MFA in creative writing (one of the best programs in the country!). The class is English Composition 1102, and it’s taught by one of my friends and former colleagues. She’s always looking for new ways to reach her students. She believes that writing and rhetoric can change a student’s future and provide them with the skills necessary for success — even if they’re not an English major.

Miami Horizon

So tomorrow, I’m going to Skype into their class from my new office and tell them about how the skills they’re learning in comp class transferred into my job, my life, and my personality. And I’ve got to say, the lessons I used to teach my students (plus the lessons I learned on how to teach from my professors) has played a gigantic role in my life, but it’s impossible to ever measure.

Journaling and freewriting 

If you’ve ever been in my class — or you ever really got to know me — then you probably know that I write in a journal all the time. I have countless journals with my thoughts, my dreams, my visions, my story ideas, and they’re probably the most prize possessions I own, because I can look back on those books and understand that it is the material of my mind.


Maybe that sounds strange. But when I was in graduate school, I took this pedagogy class with Kimberly Harrison. We read a bunch of theory, and I enjoyed it, but what I took away from the class, which impacts me everyday, is freewriting. Writing without thinking; writing without censoring; writing without blocking…searching, groping, hoping for some understanding to pop out of the page like a message from a dream.

In the most basic sense, learning to write write without judging was an important hurdle I had to overcome before I could actually communicate with others or myself. How often do we judge our writing? How often do we judge what we say in class? And how often do we stop from saying what we actually want because of fear? Well, freewriting taught me to believe in my words, to write them, to say them, and never look back.

Of course, this has some drawbacks. If I’m just saying whatever the hell I want, well, I’m probably going to say something stupid and offensive. But here’s another way I use freewriting: When I know I’m going into a difficult situation, when I know I have to talk to my boss about a sensitive issue, even when I know I have to talk to a loved one about a pressing matter, I write about it. I see what’s on my mind. I learn about myself. I learn about my fears. I learn about my thoughts. I learn about my insecurities. And what I’m really doing is strategizing by voyaging into myself.

You know, I could probably go on about all the things I’ve learned from teaching, but here’s something I’ve learned that seems important right now: Sometimes, you can plan an entire lesson down to the minute, but sometimes you just have to move on from that routine in order to find the point you wanted to make.


I’m getting married next week. Actually Saturday. I proposed to my lady, Heron, while I was teaching at FIU. Teaching, strangely, had a big part of this decision. And what I learned while teaching is that you always have to know your audience; you always have to know your genre; you always have to know your purpose.

Well, those are basic lessons for writing a paper, but those are the basic lessons for living a successful life. We teach our students to wallow in complexity, to not take the easy way out, and to find the right answer to complicated questions. And when I was trying to figure out if I was going to propose, I asked the same very questions I use to brainstorm a research paper.

So I looked at my life, and I wondered, who was the audience? Who was I living for? Ultimately, it was me, but it was my future wife. It was my dog. It was my family. It was my students. It was the voice I hear inside my head that tells what I’m doing is right or wrong.

And then I thought about the genre. What kind of a life did I want to live? Because I want to be a writer, part of me thought that I had to live some tragically beautiful life and suffer. I could have lived my life like a tragedy. I could have chosen to be alone and a wandering Gypsy. But no, I wanted to make my life another genre. I didn’t want to live a tragedy. I wanted to be happy. And I know what made me happy. I mean, I knew who made me happy.

And finally, I started to think about my purpose: The ultimate question. With my students, I asked, “What is it that you’re trying to accomplish in your paper?” With myself, I asked the obvious: What did I want out of life? And yes, life is tragically short, but I often imagine that when I die, I could be forced to watch my life on repeat, and back in graduate school, I knew that I wanted Heron to be in those scenes. I knew my purpose: to have an incredible family and be one hell of a writer.

Some might even say that being a writer and having a family is a paradox. But I’m the one writing this story.

Purpose, audience, and genre…

Echo Park Rising and a Brief Story Set in Deland, Florida

So I’m excited to share that I’ll be reading at Stories Books and Cafe this Saturday as part of the Echo Park Rising, which is a community “party” featuring bands and art and food.  It should be a great time.  And I’m lucky enough to read with writers like James Greer, Natashia Deon, Jim Ruland, and Oriana Small — memoirist and porn star.  Check out the whole list of writers’ on the poster to the right.  But full disclosure, the poster says, “Joseph Lapin — of the LA WEEKLY.”  Well, I’m just a freelancer.  Just to clarify.  My writing appears in there sometimes.  And I hope it will continue.

Well, I did much better today with organizing my time and not feeling so overwhelmed.  I sent out a few more pitches, and now I’ll wait and see what happens.  Plus, I wrote two good stories I hope will be in print soon.  But you never know.

So, I had a comment on yesterday’s blog from a friend of mine from college.  It was cool of him to read some of my posts, and he was wondering when I was going to start writing about the golden days at our undergrad at Stetson University.  I thought about telling a story involving him, but I decided it might be too obvious who it was, considering he just wrote a comment.  I’ll probably share some of those later.

Well, I’ll share another story. When I was in college, I used to work at a bar called Central Park.  One of my fraternity brothers got me the job for some extra money to help with food and other expenses.  Before I was a bartender, actually — I almost completely forgot about this — I was a bouncer.  Yeah, all 5’10, 160 lbs was probably the least frightening thing in the world.  A couple times on the weekend when the college kids never showed, I was at the front door with a metal detector, scanning people to see if they had knives.  That freaked me out a bit.

But the owner started to like me, and he let me be a bartender.  My buddies used to show up real early — probably around 8 or 9 — on a Thursday night, because we served $1.00 drinks.  It was absurd.  And my buddies, including this guy who commented on the blog, used to sit there with me until the rest of the school walked in.

And on one of those nights, a girl walked into the bar, and I swear the room had stopped.  I know it’s cheesy to say, but I watched her walk in front of the bar, start towards me as if to order a drink, and then turn around as if I was watching a dream.  This is where I was introduced to my fiance.  I was 19 at the time.  A friend of mine, Burger, introduced us.  Or was it Heron’s friend.  Probably both.

So that’s my college story.  I worked at a bar to make extra money, and I ended up finding the love of my life.  (Maybe it’s too short and the pacing is a bit off, but, hey, it’s almost Friday, right?)  We’ve been together for 7 years, and we’ve lived in three different states and about seven different cities.  We’re getting married in February.  And I’ll be blogging about that, too.