Remembering Brian

After learning of the passing of my friend I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the meaningful impact one person can make in the life of another. Radio is how I met Doc Halliday and so it seems most appropriate to remember him with the voice he taught me how to use. You are welcome to listen in or simply read.

Mentor. Dear friend.

In the last couple of weeks, these are the two terms I’ve used to describe Brian Halliday. While they certainly apply, they also seem woefully inadequate. How can you describe a person who was so incredibly important to your life in just a couple of words that capture the nuance of the thing?

I was 17 when I met Brian. Up to that point, my entire life’s ambition had been to become an Olympic soccer player. But I was just coming back from reconstructive knee surgery and that dream was painfully receding. I’d settled on pursuing a degree in library science because I loved reading and well, what else was going to do with my life? 

You can’t.

Until an ordinary Saturday afternoon when I called in to answer a trivia question on Inside Soccer, a local talk show hosted by Brian “The Doc” Halliday and Brian “The Mighty” Quinn. I won.

We listened to a lot of radio growing up and I loved it, but it never occurred to me that I could be on the radio. Or even that radio was something people did to make a living.

That small victory lead to a terrifying invitation: to be a student “guest host” while The Mighty Quinn was on vacation.  I was a quiet kid – I barely spoke to people I knew and liked. Speak on the radio to an unknown number of people?! No way! But Brian was persuasive. And he suggested we could talk about the fan website for local women’s pro team that I  wanted to promote and my ambition overruled the fear.

I remember walking into the studio at the Clear Channel offices with my brother as a buddy. All the racks of radio gear, blinking lights, knobs and dials. Meeting Wayne, the show’s board op and producer. 

That’s it. I was hooked. 

I was also pretty terrible on-air. But that didn’t deter Brian from continuing to offer opportunities. First, as a contributing reporter covering the San Diego Spirit. When Inside Soccer moved to a new, an internet-only radio platform, Brian invited me to become the show producer. I spent 5-6 hours of just about every Saturday preparing, engineering Inside Soccer. He suggested I host a regular 20-minute segment on women’s soccer. He even invited me and Carl Hammond to fill in for the entire 4-hour show when both Brian’s were out of town.

He was well regarded for his ability to spot potential in soccer players and I guess that’s what he saw in me: potential. A potential that I could not see for myself. I often wondered how I got so lucky when the next opportunity from Brian arrived.

After I transferred away to finish my bachelors degree, Brian remained a fixture. He called regularly to check in. Asking about my studies, my family, ambitions and just life. “You don’t call, you don’t write, you don’t send food parcels!” was a message I heard often on my voicemail.

He had advice, encouragement, a listening ear, and even words of admonishment when the occasion warranted. Oh, and the teasing. There was no end to his teasing me about basically everything. That was so was needed because I’ve always taken myself and life more seriously than is sometimes healthy. I learned to laugh at myself, how could I not when I had his boisterous, joyful laugh alongside me?

I want to circle back to the admonishment part for a minute. At the time, Brian was one of the few people I could talk to about my relationship with my dad. Dad and I had a really difficult relationship for a couple of decades. I didn’t realize it then, but I had turned my dad into a one-note villain in the story of my life. Brian was the first and only person who pushed back against the way I was characterizing my father. “He’s just a man,” Brian was so kind and gentle when he said those words but I was still angry. How could he not take my side when I had been so hurt? Treated with such injustice? Eventually I came to understand that Brian was right. My father was just a man after all, complicated and messy like everyone else.

In the years since, we’ve gone from cordial to the foundations of a real, meaningful father-daughter relationship. I’m not sure this level of reconciliation would have been possible without fine line Brian was able to navigate in delivering truth with compassion and kindness. 

It was Brian who came up with the name Spirit of Tivaevae for my documentary project. 

Brian who taught me that I could do great things, if only because he told me that I could and would.

Brian who showed me that I had a voice – a physical voice that could talk to people around the world on the radio. And in the sense that I had something of value to share with that same world.

It seems right to remember my mentor and very dear friend in this way. Sitting behind a microphone in a radio station studio. 

Have fun, be safe, and we’ll see you on the radio,” is how Brian used to close the Inside Soccer newsletter.

So long, Doc Halliday. I’ll see you on the radio.


In honor of the best person I know

I wrote this piece on June 29. Nine days later, mom had a stroke. She is doing great — amazing, actually. I mention it here as a historical footnote of sorts. The timing of the original writing was…uncanny. Suffice it to say that we are all extra grateful to be celebrating our mom this year!

Today is a special day in the Turori family.

Today we celebrate the birth of the woman who is the glue that holds us together.

If you’ve ever thought of me (or any of my siblings) as a kind or responsible or just decent human, you can thank my mom.


To honor the best person I know, here are five of the best life lessons I have learned from her.


Visual processing

People process difficult situations in different ways. I am mostly a visual processor. When I don’t have words, I photograph. What I can’t verbalize, I write.

I could tell you about spending hours in a bustling Emergency Room, and how unsettling it is to walk off an elevator into a perfectly silent, dimly lit, empty neurology lobby after so much noise. At midnight, no less.

Or, I could show you.


Vanquish your fear, take the risk

Last night I wrote this on my personal Facebook page:

For years I circled my Cook Islands inheritance with trepidation. I was afraid I’d be told I didn’t belong. I let the fear that I’d never measure up hold me back. Maintaining the status quo was easier and less risky than immersion.

I am no longer afraid.

Don’t let the fear of not belonging keep you from something important. Dive in. You’ll be glad you did.

Spirit of Tivaevae: The Documentary is the story of Pacific women and the traditional art they love to practice. It’s also the story of finding a place in world where you thought you didn’t belong.

Will you join us? Together, we’ll tell this story to the world. Details here:

A few days ago I did an email interview and the reporter asked if I had made any self-discoveries in the process of developing the doco.

She may have gotten more than she bargained for on that one because three paragraphs later I had to force myself to stop writing and move on to another question.

Making this film has challenged me to my core.


On the tension between virtual and real work

I posted this photo and caption to Instagram this morning:


Most of my daily work takes place in a digital space–website things, video, graphic design, etc.

These might just be fliers and tickets to you, but to me they are a special treat. An opportunity to pick up and touch something that I designed. That might sound a bit silly or overly dramatic–but the tangible, real world has a value and power that can’t be replaced by working in a virtual space.

I have thought about this tension between real and virtual often over the last couple of years. So much of our lives now takes place in digital spaces… how does splitting our existence between real and virtual impact our humanity? What makes tangible items so captivating? How does our relationship with the world around us affect our identities?

If you have thoughts on these things, I would love to hear them.


On turning 30

I’ve been 30 for a whole week.

Thirty. Years. Old. 


There’s something about the number 30 in relation to years lived that makes a lot of people squirm (mostly people under the age of 30). It is a milestone that feels significant and insignificant all at once.

It feels insignficant in perspective. I understand now that three decades isn’t as long a time as it seemed when I was 10. It is, in theory, only a small portion of one person’s life. On a larger scale, 30 years barely registers as a drop in the bucket of history. 

On the counter, turning 30 feels significant because of all the things I learned in the last decade. The best way to describe my 20’s is: it was a process. A process of learning, experiencing, and knowing. It was mostly a process of figuring myself out. Parts of that process were ugly, miserable, and downright lonely. They were also painfully necessary. It was like going on a Bear Hunt:

Can’t go over it
Can’t go under it
Can’t go around it
Got to go through it

Now that I’m through, the difference between who I was at 20 and who I am at 30 is surprisingly huge — and yet, in all the best (and a few of the worst) ways, I am still me. Thanks to all of the mistakes and failures, small victories and major triumphs, I am more myself today than I ever have been.

Better yet, I like who I am. Flawed, yes. But accepting of the fact that I’m still changing and growing. That was not true at 15, when I desperately wished to be anyone other than myself. It wasn’t even half true at 25.

With all of this context, you’ll understand why I’m kind of thrilled to be 30. Here’s to taking on a new decade of adventures armed with some hard earned confidence, and the boldness to live well.


Balancing two communities

It’s a strange thing, belonging to two communities.

Growing up in California with my mom’s family meant the pacific half of my blood had a minimal impact on my upbringing. Partly because my dad grew up a member of the generation that was taught to de-emphasize their culture in order to fit in. Partly because my dad’s family was only an occasional presence — a voice on the phone in the middle of the night or a fun stranger who came to visit for a couple of weeks.

I’ve discovered the values my siblings and I were raised with are in essence, the same or similar to pacific values (clearly, my parents saw eye-to-eye on that front). Shared values is the main reason I think I’ve been able to — assimilate isn’t quite the word — insert myself relatively seamlessly into the pacific community (insert isn’t quite right either, but you get the point).

Entering the pacific community as an adult has been an interesting experience. I frequently feel like I’ve been caught in a rip tide — one blink of the eye and suddenly I’m further out to sea than I anticipated. I tagged along to a few meetings to learn more about my culture and an unfamiliar community, I blinked once… Now I’m an active part of PICC and PACCC.

Just like a rip tide, the key is to swim with the current.

Blink. I find myself sitting in the Office of Samoan Affairs on a Tuesday night, writing down my vision for a preschool founded on pacific values and culture. PACCC is beginning the work of a preschool that we hope to open this fall. Launching a preschool on a tight timeline is ambitious, but not impossible. To get the process moving forward and to make sure all involved are properly informed, PACCC is holding a series of workshops (which you should attend if you’re local and interested).

The first workshop was an eye opening experience. I guessed the workshops would be more akin to a passive classroom type of experience. We would turn up, sit, and spend two hours listening to someone deliver a lecture on the school’s mission and vision statements were. However, I’m pleased to say the experience was the opposite. Instead of being handed a few prepared sentences, we, the community began the work of determining the school’s mission.

The group of folks in attendance was about as diverse as you could ask for in terms of background, opinions and perspectives. It was a good mix of ages. The discussion was passionate. Everyone contributed and, perhaps most importantly, everyone was heard.

Together, we shaped a vision of a school that will give our children a foundation for their future. A place steeped in culture and values that matter. A future that pushes our people forward, away from stereotypes.

Our people. My people. It’s strange to put that in writing and it will still come off my tongue with hesitation. Maybe it will never be a thing that I can articulate without hesitation. It’s possible that I’m too white, too haole, for the feeling of being an outsider to ever fully go away. And you know, that’s okay. Just the fact that something shifted enough in my brain for “pacific people” to morph into “my people” is progress.

The fact is that I do belong to two communities. They don’t have to clash, but maybe they also don’t have to blend. The trick is to make peace with the tension. Embrace the otherness of the situation as the solution, rather than the problem.

(I anticipate writing more about the workshops as we go along. I don’t expect all such posts to be so…existential crisis-y…but I’m also not making any promises they won’t be.)


Gray sky day

Everyone knows that life in Southern California is an endless parade of sunny skies and mild winters that are the envy of every snow-bound resident in the country.

Lately I’ve been wishing for a cold gray sky. Just one. Even sunshine becomes monotonous with time. It’s winter for crying out loud. We get shorts-and-tshirts weather at least once every month of the year.

Happily, today was that wished-for day. The leaf-less trees stood dark against the stark gray, all was right and wintery.


Garden Grove Open Streets

Last Sunday the City of Garden Grove hosted their first Re:Imagine Garden Grove Open Streets event. Three miles of main streets in the downtown area of Garden Grove were closed to cars, leaving them open for the community to ride bikes and skateboards, walk and even rollerblade. There was live music, food, crafts, and all kinds of activities for people to enjoy.

Sometimes events like these don’t end up being as cool as the organizers describe in the weeks leading up to it. However, this one lived up to the hype. Everywhere I looked there were smiling faces thoroughly enjoying the day. I was working as part of Channel 3’s third camera unit covering the event, so I didn’t get the opportunity to participate as a community member. I’m not sorry though; it was a fun event to work!


Bandette: a review

Written by Paul Tobin, with art by Colleen Coover, Bandette Volume 1: Presto! was exactly the kind of light hearted romp I needed to shake off the excessive busyness of the summer.

The first couple of issues are pretty fluffy, but once the plot kicks in it adds a bit of menace to balance out the silliness nicely. I particularly enjoyed how the Urchin Stories fleshed out the supporting characters. Coover’s art is lovely, adding a vintage-y comics feel that perfectly beings the characters to life.

Oh, and did I mention that Volume 1 is a beautiful hard bound edition? I am a sucker for a nice hard bound book. Volume 2 is several months out, perhaps I’ll have to break my rule and start reading the series on Comixology…

All in all, I’m glad to have so thoroughly enjoyed my first solo selected comic venture. Everything I’ve read previously has been on recommendations from friends or a preexisting superhero interest.

Edited to add: This would be a good one to read if you’re new to comics.