Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Impulsive Proposal

Mapuno' i birak.

Esta hagas na tiempo hu u'uke' este na birak.

Kada pekkat-hu ha chungat yu.

Kada diha, kalang sinanggra yu' ni' i malago'-na.

Para Hamyo, ni' ti en kempreprende hafa ilelek-hu guini, pat hafa este na estaba na birak-hu, manaplika yu' "grant" halacha. Ya para dos meses ayu sumagayi i lina'la'-hu.

Lao makpo' este put fin, ya ha fattoigue yu' ta'lo i minagof-hu, i gailugat-hu.

For those who don't understand the Chamorro section above, my life was taken over recently by applying for a National Science Foundation grant. I have applied for grants before, but never one such as this. This grant was twice as large as the largest grant I've ever helped apply for (this one is $220,000), three times longer than the longest grant I've ever applied for (3 years) and stretched my ability to sound "scientific" in a grant proposal. Suette yu', because the grant was on something I take seriously and care passionately about, documenting specialized forms of the Chamorro language, but still, writing this and putting it together was such a monumental task for me. Magof yu' na makpo' este.

Every time I finish a huge task like this, it takes a while for my brain to readjust to not being consumed by a single, demanding job. This is the same for grants like this, scholarly projects, research trips and even big translation projects. Kalang estaba un bula' na abubu i tintanos-hu, ya ensigidas mapokka'. It's as if my brain was this big balloon and all of a sudden popped. I usually spend a day stumbling around my laptop, apartment, coffee shops, my office, wondering what I did with my life before I took on that ridiculous project.

Today, for some reason I find myself searching around the news database, Newsbank for articles from around the world on Guam. Most were the type I expected to find. News from Japan on the buildup and Okinawa. Sports news as Guam teams travel to Asia. Some old articles on typhoons and the damage they caused in Guam. Every once in a while, one article would stick out amongst the hundreds, and make me pause and read the text. These were either articles which were unusually indepth about Guam but from a random place, such as Afghanistan, India or Southeast Asia. Or they were just random stories, which somehow featured Guam.

One such article, about a couple form Hong Kong, who got married in the "paradise" that is Guam I've pasted below.


An impulsive proposal leads to Guam marriage
Lunch-hour phone call takes Catherine Kong and Gurt Wong to the altar in a Pacific island paradise
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)
Saturday, July 30, 2011

Catherine Kong almost choked on her lunch when Gurt Wong proposed to her over the phone last December. In fact, it also was quite a shock for Gurt.

Catherine was eating with colleagues when Gurt, whom she had been dating for six months, inadvertently popped the question. He suggested they spend Christmas in Guam, somewhere they had once agreed would be a lovely place to get married. "But I didn't plan to propose... I simply wanted to go travelling," Gurt said.

She said: "I was like, but we were going to get married there, and it was then that he said, 'Why not?' And I said, 'Yes'."

Catherine, 24, a financial planner at a bank, and Gurt, 30, a video producer, married at St Laguna Chapel in Guam on January 26. They then celebrated at Palace Wedding Banquet at The One with about 450 guests on June 6.

The couple first met at a mutual friend's party last year. They barely talked, but the next day Catherine added Gurt as a friend on Facebook and they started chatting. They soon found out that they had grown up in the same area and gone to the same primary school. They even lived close to each other - just a three-minute walk away.

"That was pretty amazing," Catherine said.

The following week, they met again when Catherine asked Gurt to join her and some friends at a karaoke lounge. That night, they took the same minibus home and decided to have dinner the next evening. After countless Facebook chats and text messages, love gradually blossomed.

"I was really attracted by his ambition and determination. He's one of those guys who would never give up on his dreams. He makes independent films on his own terms. I really respect that," Catherine said.

When Gurt asked Catherine out on another "friendly date", and asked her what food she'd like, "She said it didn't matter as long as it was with me", Gurt said.

He was happy to hear that but also had doubts. "I was like, we've only known each other for a matter of weeks and she's being so forward. I wondered if she was trying to sell me an insurance policy or something like that."

"Well, that's who I am. I don't play games and I wasn't trying to sell him anything," Catherine said.

They went on the date and both decided to give love a shot.

Gurt wasn't the only one who liked doing creative things, and doing them his own way. They once picked up two stones at the beach and Gurt joked that Catherine could make them into pendants.

She spent hours drilling holes in the small stones and eventually made matching necklaces, which they have not taken off since.

There were also times when Catherine appeared at Gurt's home in the middle of the night to give him scarves or bracelets she had just finished making.

"I know it might sound cheesy, but when a girl shows up at your door like that, it's hard not to be moved," Gurt said.

For all that the proposal may have been impulsive, each knew from their first date that they had found the right partner. "Sometimes you don't need years and years to make sure he's the one. You just know, really," Catherine said.

Gurt surprised Catherine with another, proper, proposal the night before they flew to Guam, on January 23. He asked her to test his video camera and went into another room, pretending to pack. When he came back and Catherine had the camera fixed on him, Gurt took out roses and a ring, and got down on one knee.

"I've got that all on the record. Now I don't have to tell friends that he proposed over the phone," Catherine said.

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