Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two wrong feet

I step outside the door to start my day and I can't help but be a little positive that it's going to be a great day; and why shouldn't it be a great day? It's early morning, the sun has yet to show it's bright, shiny face. And for once I am on time for the early morning commute to work . . . on public transportation no less. I love public transportation!

The work day goes on as expected: phone calls, paper work, 1st break; phone calls, paper work, lunch break; phone calls, paper work, 2nd break; phone calls, paper work, work day is over. I'm back on the bus for the long ride home. No worries though, because the bus isn't crowded and I get my usual seat. I take out my book to read and before I know it the bus is pulling up to my stop.

It's a short walk from the bus to my front door. Ah, the front door. Nearly 12 hours later and I am at the doorstep of where my entire day began, my front door. I'm relieved . . . that emotion is soon followed by the feeling of mortification because I now realize that I have been walking around with two different slippers on my feet.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I did something very spectacular today . . .

I was reacquainted with some very dear friends from school. The last time I saw them we where 13 years old. High school was our next big hurdle and soon we would be caught up with new challenges, new friends, and a new life that would become all encompassing.

It's been nearly 30 years since we've seen each other. Our paths have led us down very different roads of which the terrain has not always been sure-footed. And yet, beyond the space of time and differences, our friendships seem to have grown deeper and feel more meaningful. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote,

"Not chance of birth or place has made us friends
Being oftentimes of different tongues and nations,
But the endeavor for the selfsame ends
With the same hopes, and fears, and aspirations."

I can't help but think that Mr. Longfellow must indeed have had a great many cherished friendships because his words are insightful and wise. I can hardly remember what we were all like back then; what we thought, what we said, what we found funny, or serious. Those memories are like blurry fringes around the corners of my mind. But, I think I can hear the laughter, or see the smiles, or even smell the aroma of shortbread cookies at lunch time. I can vividly recall the tears for a dear classmate that left this world far sooner than any of us would have liked. He is our clarity. He is our center. He is our most cherished memory.

Standing together with my friends, reminiscing about "life back when" I couldn't help but feel very proud of that moment. Does that sound odd? It feels odd saying it. I can't think of any other way to describe that sensation. Do you know that feeling you get like somethings pushing on your chest from the inside trying to get out? Sort of like that. I looked from one friend, to another, and then another. They were talking football, golfing, kids, wives, other old friends that they still haven't seen and it was as if time had never passed us by.

My friend's mother passed away. Today was her funeral. I wanted to be there and show my love and support. I sat through the services thinking of dad and my heart broke to think that my friend was feeling the same loss, grief and pain. After the funeral services we all stood together as friends, and I couldn't help but feel very proud of that moment.

Friday, August 21, 2009

John Ed Pearce wrote . . .

"home is the place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to."

I don't regret leaving. I don't regret wanting to know if there was more life to be lived somewhere other than here. There was. And I did. It was so much more than I ever expected.

I was thrilled to see the seasons change; watch the colorful transformation of leaves; feel the chill of winter's first storm as it rolled down from the mountains and then blanket the city in white. I perspired in the dry desert heat and hid from the threat of lightening storms.

I made friends with the most amazing people I never dreamed I could have met. I grew strong, confident, self-aware, and calm. I had reached such great heights and plummeted to heart-breaking lows, and somehow, I still came out ahead. I strengthened, stretched and tested my relationship with God. And I'm standing at the other end of my trials in full knowledge of God's love for me, and His willingness to forgive, and His belief that I am a far better person than I know myself to be.

Widening my comfort zone became a necessity and a personal challenge. I had to lay aside my typical habits of limiting my involvement in life and in the lives of others. The world had a whole new outlook. It was large and small at the same time. I felt the change too, I was the same yet different. Being open to new ideas, challenges, people, and possibilities eventually made me ready to turn my sights toward home.

Even in pursuit of the unknown, somewhere in the back of my mind I always knew that I'd make it home again. Returning was a dream, a goal, a "someday" possibility. Life away from home had given me the courage to actualize my dream. No longer would I just "wish" that I would return home. Instead, I knew that as I pursued my life goals, returning home would be just a matter of time. I needed to plan and be patient. I needed to implement everything that I had learned and put them into motion. And when a way opened up, I needed to be aware of it and then act on it.

And so, here I am in Nanakuli with the threat of a tropical storm in the weather forecast. It's been 1 month and 17 days since I've been home. Already, I've sat under a tree in the backyard with my 11 year old niece, Trayse-Anne, and picked out shapes in the clouds, we took turns reading to each other from a book I bought her from the country store down the road. We walked across the street to the beach where we saw two turtles. We watched the sky turn several different shades of color at the end of the day, and quietly sat in our chairs under the tree as the sun sank behind the mountain until it was out of sight. And just when I thought the summer days were over, she wanted to walk out under the stars and have me point out the Big Dipper.

I ask you, could life be any sweeter than it already is?

I'll let you know. Aloha!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Long Road Home

The sensations of the heart are always the hardest to put into words. While reading Crash's final thoughts about leaving Hawaii and moving to Utah, I couldn't help but feel empathy for her. I had been gone for 9 1/2 years, having spent most of those years in Utah and a few in California. It's been a month and 2 days since I've been home. I still can't believe it!

When my aunt passed away last year, things just seemed to point me in the direction of home. They were subtle directions, which is a good thing, because I happen to be the stubborn type. If the suggestion to move home had been clear and straight forward, I'd still be living in California. Crazy, I know. And it makes no sense whatsoever, but you ask anyone that knows me. Try and make me do something that I may have the slightest aversion to or I'm not ready to accept . . . then, I've got lead feet. And right or wrong, I won't budge. But subtle suggestions, hints, and gentle prodding and I'm puddy in your hands! My poor parents! What a tough time it had to have been raising me!

I was all-kinds of giddy when I landed in Hawaii. The air smelled sweeter and purer than any air I had ever inhaled in my life! As we drove from the airport to Waipahu, I was blessed with the most beautiful rainbow that ever refracted light. I actually told my sister to pull over (on the H-1, during heavy traffic) so that I could get a better picture. Yeah, she told me "No," and kept on driving.
I also said things like, "I can't believe just how green the grass is" and "look how pretty all the flowers are." My sisters told me to knock it off and act like a normal person! Granted, it's out of character for me to act and say the things I had been saying, but I couldn't find the words that expressed how I felt about being home! Sweet air, a beautiful rainbow, green grass, and pretty flowers. Amidst all of that, it was hot, humid and I was sweating buckets! But I was home and happy to be sweating in Hawaii!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Guess Where I Am?

Need more clues?

Does this one help?

Give up?

Home in Hawaii!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Alone Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be (edited and reposted)

I started reading a new book about a week ago called A Party of One by Anneli Rufus; I got it from my newly discovered bookstore, Paperbacks Unlimited. The title of the book is what caught my eye and after a few minutes of scanning I determined that it would make for a great read. Thus far it has . . . and it hasn't.

It's not that I don't enjoy the book, because I do, but I'm learning that I'm not the lone-wolf I thought I was. Actually, what I've discovered is that I'm not so much a lone wolf as I am someone lacking in a few social skills. **too funny** And I find that I'm not so anxious to join the "lone wolf" club.

There have been times, when I have waved my banner of solitude and "alone-ness" high and quite often in the collective faces of family and friends. I have pushed aside requests or invitations to join in or celebrate with them under the guise of that aforementioned banner. I emphatically believed that my "personal space" could not be sacrificed and I would not abide any attempts to disturb or interfere with my "alone-ness."

I'm on page 79 and I have 194 pages left. What I have learned thus far about being a loner is that -- I am no true loner. I do not have the caliber of alone-ness that is characteristic of Emily Dickinson, "who stayed home for sixteen years and wrote two thousand poems of startling passion." Or the quantitative loner genius of Albert Einstein, who wrote "although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice keeps me from feeling isolated." Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes are but a handful "for whom two was a crowd." They produced astounding works of art, brilliant mathematical calculations and literary greatness in their alone-ness.

I surmise that the author, Anneli Rufus, writes in regards for those whom would retreat from the world at large if they could, but who do not, because they cannot all become absolute hermits and recluses. Even a true loner must, out of sheer survival, interact with the world at large at some point. To be a true loner is to have the consciousness of wanting to escape merely because others are present. So, where does that put me? Am I chomping at the bit just waiting to get away from everyone?

Alas, I must reconcile myself to the fact that I am not the loner I thought myself to be. I do not (often) desire to remove myself from those that inhabit the world around me. I do not (often) walk among my fellow beings all the while searching for a means of escape. I do not (always) stand alone because I cannot bear to be in the midst of a crowd. Therefore, I am not a true loner.

Rufus writes of one John Fairfax, who set off alone to row across the Atlantic in 1969. Fairfax had lived an extravagant life, but felt his "struggle against humanity" was all too much to bear. While he did at times need to interact with others, he felt that "loneliness" was "not a specter to be feared, but more a cherished companion."

While I may certainly prefer the solitude of my own walls, and acknowledge that I can carry interesting and lively conversations with myself; I equally acknowledge that sometimes I find my own company boring and relish the need for human companionship. And as such, I am grateful for my family and friends . . . for they accept me with all my crazy quirks and eccentricities.

**originally posted on 2/20/09

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Emily Dickinson Syndrome...but without the poetry

Emily wrote in her diary, "It was baking day . . . While my hands work, my mind sets off for wider parts. If it returns with treasures, I inscribe them on whatever is at hand." In another entry she wrote, "Tonight the needle exhausted my fingers -- while my mind flew away. The flight gave them no pause!"

It's the self thought, the reflective, the contemplative possibility of doing something more than what is seen. I often find my mind strolling through a daydream while my hands or body have a different task to complete. I am mutely aware of what I am doing rather than how I am doing it, and when it's done -- I laugh at my attempt.

Emily wrote about writing letters to her friends that she hadn't spoken to in weeks. "As the conversation progresses, my thoughts -- impatient -- speed on -- too quick for my pen. Then I fear they will scatter to the corners and escape to Eternity!"

The physical act of writing use to thrill me when I would set my pen onto my paper and watch as words would flow, then trickle, then dribble, then pause. But it's true, what Emily wrote about her "impatient" thoughts speeding, sometimes I lost them in the act of trying to write it down. My pen used to be able to keep up with my thoughts, but now -- I have to contend with a cramped wrist and pen imprints on my finger. Typing, ahh, now there's a skill everyone should acquire or aspire to obtain. Now, my fingers are quicker than my thoughts. My problem now is . . . spelling.

Emily wrote that she did not go to church on Sunday, but used "the morning of the Lord for writing while the others [sought] his presence in the pews." She had issues. "We two have been at odds --" she wrote. But, even when she was at odds, she admits "I feel as if 'grace is poured into my mouth' and I write what is too sacred to speak."

It is a complicated relationship. God. Christ. The Holy Spirit. Me. Sometimes, I find myself all over the place bumping into things and knocking them over or knocking myself over. Everyone else (God, Christ, The Holy Spirit) is still in the same place, except for me. Right now . . . I'm standing a little off center of everyone.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Writing Prompt Exercise

I've been taking a creative writing course online, sort of a refresher; it's been really helpful. I had a writing prompt exercise where I chose a random phrase for the beginning of a sentence and then, I had to complete the sentence. I chose, "My father is . . . ." I think I chose it because I haven't thought about dad in a while. I mean, he flutters in and out of my thoughts often, but I haven't had a real good deep pondering thought about him. So, I chose, "My father is . . ." After an hour, all I came up with was "My father is -- dead." Finally, here's the rest of what I wrote:

My father is -- dead. He has been dead for over four years. Every now and then, when I forget to remember him, I think that is when he is dead to me, too. I hate that. I hate that because I don't want him to be dead. Instead, I want the reason that I haven't thought about him or spoken to him to simply be because I forgot to call. Like maybe, I forgot to call and ask if his knees were still bothering him, and then listen to him say he wished I were there to massage them. Or that I forgot how I came home after a hard day's work and laughed at all the ridiculous messages he left on my answering machine. And then, without a thought, I deleted those messages knowing that tomorrow or the next day there would be more messages from him.

I want the reason that I didn't pick up the phone and say, "Happy birthday, dad" to be because I forgot to call and wish him a happy birthday or that I forgot to send his father's day card on Father's day because I had put off going to the post office for a stamp. I want "inspiration" to be the reason that I sent him a letter out of the blue and included a twenty dollar bill with a note saying, 'Here's your lunch money. Don't spend it all at once.' I don't want the reason that I can't do any of these things to be because he's dead. I don't want that to be the reason, but it is . . . because he is.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Was It Just a Dream?

**I had a conversation with dad today. I asked him if he wanted to go home to Hawaii. Dad said if I had asked him that question before he died, he would have said yes. But he's gone now and his priorities are not relevant to the world that I or the rest of the family live in. Where his body lies is just fine here in California as it would be if it were in Hawaii.

I told dad that mom won't go to Hawaii if he's here in California. He shrugged his shoulders and gestured with his arms and hands outstretched and said, "Well, whatever your mom wants."

So, I guess the three of us are staying here in California.**

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Just throwin' it out there

I was just reading through Cheri Block Sabraw's blog about grammer. The topic may not be attention grabbing, but Cheri makes learning grammer a lot more fun than I ever remember it being. Ipo, you need to check out Cheri's blog. You'll love her!

She told the story of how her 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Whooton, had thrown an eraser at her during class! Granted, it was told as a means to get the attention of her students, but it got me thinking . . . about the time my 7th grade science teacher, Sister Eva, threw an eraser at me.

Actually, Sister Eva threw the eraser at my girlfriend Leonelle (our desks were grouped together in fours), who was talking to me. But, I still remember feeling the swoosh of air as that eraser went sailing by and hit the back wall of the classroom. Man, did that get our attention. Sister Eva, stood poised at the front of the class and said ever so sweetly, "I meant to miss."

She could be deadly when she wanted.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Diggin' on it...

I'm totally diggin' on this concept of blogging. Truly . . . I am. It lets me get in a lot of writing time, time that I always say I'll put aside to actually write, but I never do. Which is weird, because I love writing. I have always loved writing. I love writing in the same manner that I love reading.

When I was about seven years old, I read . . . voraciously. I can't remember a time when I didn't enjoy reading. My parents had purchased a collection of children's literature books, as well as volumes of Reader's Digest (you know, the hard cover type that was sold door-to-door) and I read them. All of them. And when I read them all, I read them again.

Then, I read everything else we had in the house. I read the medical books we had (the pictures were gross), the business books we had (taught myself how to type on a typewriter), my mother's music books (taught myself how to play the piano...not very well), my father's auto mechanic books (learned the basics of how to change the oil and fix a flat), and if I went to the library, I was like a kid in a candy store.

I've read a lot of different articles that give advice about how to blog, what to blog, how to be a better blogger, how to write a better blog, how to sell your blog, how to sell your time to blog, and all that stuff. I thought maybe that was the best route . . . you know, the best way to learn how to blog. But now, I'm not so sure. I've always had my own style, and I didn't really get into blogging just to see who was going to read my stuff; it was more for me. More of an outlet, for me.

So, I'm diggin' the blogging. I'm diggin' on the fact that I'm finding my voice through writing my blog. And that I'm writing. Yea, me!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Did you know or do you care...part II

**I did this a while ago, thought I'd add to the already useless information rolling around inside your heads....**

The correct response to the Irish greeting, "Top of the morning to you," is "and the rest of the day to yourself." (Can't wait to meet an Irishman.)

Hacky-sack was invented in Turkey.

The southern most city in the United States is Na'alehu, Hawaii.

...more?? Okay.

The older we get, the more slowly we breathe. (Great, just one more thing to look forward to.)

It never occurred to the inventor of cornflakes to put milk on them.

Just one more....

The only place in the universe where a flag flies all day, never goes up or comes down, never flies at half-mast and does not get saluted, is the moon.

And now you know . . .

How Much Pomp, Is Too Much?

I attended my nephews high school graduation. There was a lot of hootin' and hollerin' going on . . . mainly from our section in the stands. But we had good reason, this kid had literally worked his tail off to get to graduation. And, his mother was on that tail to make sure he made it to graduation. So, there was a lot to celebrate. As we watched them enter the field marching to that familiar Pomp and Circumstance tune, it was like a collective sigh from every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, and teacher breathed out over that senior class.

And then, the talks began and to be honest they were boring. Truly, boring.

The two student speakers were nervous, and it showed, but that was expected.

The principal spoke on two ideas: relationships and having an edge. Her topic on relationships actually had an additional 3 R's, of which I cannot tell you because, well, I stopped listening to her. (That's just a whole different kind of irritation. When you say your going to speak on Relationships and then come up with additional sub-topics that also start with the letter R, for the love of Pete! Why not just say you've got 4 R's and be done with it!? Ugh!!!) When she moved on to point 2: having an edge, I started to listen again. But zoned out when she started reading off an endless list about people and places that would help these graduates gain the upper hand and have an edge in life. (Again, another level of irritant. When you list more than four or five things, it then becomes a shopping list, hello! A very boring shopping list.) Then she made the most ridiculous comment about how students in China have a higher rate of test scores than students in the United States, "but they have over a billion people, so really how fair is that?" she said. I thought to myself, "Really, is that the comment you want to make, really?"

Isn't there a rule about school administrators being qualified to make public speeches? There should be!

Then a representative of the School Board spoke about -- honestly, I can't tell you what he spoke about. But, I can tell you that he spoke too long and it wasn't at all interesting.

So, here's my take on school administrators speaking at high school graduations . . . if your not a good public speaker, than do us all a favor and pass on the Pomp and leave us to enjoy the Circumstances.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Let me 'splain. (pause) No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

What is the total summation of a life? I spent most of the evening going through photos. Photos to organize, photos to email, photos to crop, photos that needed more color, photos that needed less color, photos that needed more clarity, old photos that needed to look new, new photos that needed to look old . . . stuff like that. And I came across these two photos. One is a compilation of photos of my aunt that passed away last December. The other photo is a collection of her favorite things: the Lakers and the Raiders.

A few days ago, I was at my cousin's house and she showed me a talk that my aunt had written to present to her Buddhist group. The talk detailed how she first learned about Buddhism, and the course her life was on prior to joining, and the course her life took once she had joined. After giving in to a friend's invitation she finally decided to attend a meeting. That was in June of 1983. She went to the meeting thinking, "What the hell -- if it doesn't change a thing, then oh well!" But that night was a start. That night was the beginning of a philosophy of life that gave her meaning and a sense of purpose; it gave her a reason. For the first time in a long time, she felt peaceful and calm, and she knew that happiness was on it's way.

So, let me ask you again, what is the total summation of a life? When my youngest brother passed away in 2001, I was riddled with guilt because I knew that I was not the sister that I should have been to him. For all the struggles he had in his life, for the all the mistakes that he made, for all the trouble that he caused, his life's course brought him to a point where he was at peace with himself and the person he was becoming. And all the people that traveled so far to say farewell to him was a testament to the man he had become.

Again, I pose the question, what is the total summation of a life? When my father passed away in 2004, I thought my world could not possibly exist as it had before. He was the core of our family, if he was gone then what would become of us? My father, opened himself up to a different way of believing. He stepped outside his tenured beliefs and began to walk and live a new faith. He changed his life for us, for himself. I didn't think it was fair that he was no longer with us. And because of that, I have been upset with God for quite some time now. But I know that dad wouldn't want me to throw away all the things that I know out of spite. I learned more about myself from him than I realized. I learned more about life; more about my mother; more about what I should expect of myself, what he expects of me, and what he expects me to do about it.

Photographs, mementos, journals, and letters, are merely things left by those who come in and out of our lives. But it's the person, it's the life that person lived, the lessons that person taught, the foundations that person established, the love that person represents . . . what is the total summation of a life?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Now, Tell Me A Story About Me

In a not too distant land, a little girl stood crying. She was absolutely inconsolable, because she was terrified of her aunt. No matter how hard the aunt tried to make the little girl laugh or smile it only made the child cry even harder.

**Trayse doesn't believe me when I tell that story, but it's true.**

The aunt was beside herself, trying to figure out why on earth the little girl was so frightened of her. No matter what the aunt did or said, the little girl would have nothing to do with her. At meal time, the little girl would turn her head away rather than look at her aunt, and if the aunt wanted to play games, the little girl would only play if her brother were close by. Sadly, the aunt reconciled herself to the fact, that her niece just didn't like her.

Luckily, time is a great benefactor. In the case of the tearful little girl and the sorrowful aunt, time allowed for both of them to get to know each other better. As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years, the little girl soon became inseparable from her aunt. She was now full of sweet kisses and long-lasting hugs. Her tearful days were now a distant memory, soon to be forgotten.

Time together with her niece became such a precious commodity, that the two of them decided to take a trip. So, they boarded a plane and flew to the beautiful island of Hawaii. The flight consisted of countless trips to the bathroom and the fear that the "little one" might fall in especially since the lavatory was too small for both of them to go in together. Barring a bathroom mishap, the flight arrived with all passengers intact.

The aunt's cousin, Shon, graciously welcomed them into his home and gave them the run of the place during their stay. Shon lived down the street from the beach, so the aunt and her now beautifully tanned niece decided to take a walk. While the sun was warm and bright that day, the tropical breezes were a welcome respite. The ocean was just as beautiful and inviting as the little girl's aunt had remembered; it was sky blue in some areas, a darker looking green in others, and a deep blue farther off in the distance.

They saw a turtle that day at the beach, and tiny, white crabs scurrying along the sandy shore. The squeal of her niece's voice as she squished her toes into the wet sand is what the aunt will remember most. Once, a very long time ago, there were tears that came between a little girl and her aunt. Now, there are memories of a turtle, tiny crabs, squishy wet sand between the toes, the colors of the ocean, and a little girl with lots and lots of hugs and kisses for her aunt.

Tell Me A Story About Me

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who absolutely loved his aunt. He would wake up early in the morning and say to his mom, "Aunty."

Not more than a few blocks away, a phone would be ringing in the kitchen. "Hello?" The person answering the phone was not at all pleased to be woken up at such an early hour. At the other end of the telephone line, a female voice said, "Come pick up your nephew, he's asking for you." Click.

Minutes later, a car pulled into the parking lot of the little boy's apartment building. The aunt, blurry-eyed and still in her pajamas, looked up toward the top floor of the apartment building as a tiny voice could be heard screeching "Come! Come!" She could make out the sounds of a recurring thump, thump, thump as it echoed in the morning light. A baby bag appeared to be making it's way down the concrete steps alone.

A much louder voice called from over the top banister, "Trysten, will you just wait a minute! Look! See, your aunty's here already. Stop, before you fall down the stairs! Trysten!" The thumping sound stopped.

Soon, a tiny, dark curly haired boy poked his head out from between the railings of the stairwell. He looked down to confirm what his mother had said. There, standing below him was his aunt. A huge smile spread across his face. Quickly, he withdrew his head and pulled his bag closer to begin his quick descent. His mother started down the stairs after him, and his aunt started up the stairs toward him. He was like a bullet once he got started...all arms and legs moving in one direction and one speed: forward and fast.

**That's one of the many Trysten stories that I like to tell him on the rare occasions when he used to ask me to tell him a story. I doubt I'll have many more opportunities. He's going to be a freshman in high school next year.**

Eight Earthly Winds

Earthly Winds 1 & 2: Gain and Loss
Last year I moved to California from Utah. I spent the next eight months getting reacquainted with my aunt. I learned more about her in eight months than all the years I've been on this earth. I worked a job I didn't particularly like, just because I enjoyed the time she and I spent together.

Earthly Winds 3 & 4: Honor and Disgrace
She lived a hard and crazy life growing up. The stories I could tell you...but then someone would have to die, and the police would get involved, and it would get all messy and ugly. Better for you to just use your imagination...she lived a hard and crazy life. She has numerous nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews...and everyone of them would tell you that she was the bomb-diggity! She was the cool aunt! She was the aunt that would take you in when you were on the run, she'd threaten to beat your butt if she ever caught you smoking weed (as she carefully rolled her joints in front of you), she treated you like an adult when your parents still treated your like you were 10, she was always ready and willing to thrown down in a Jack-In-The-Box parking lot, and she wasn't afraid to say "don't make me get my gun out!" Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was her lifeline to peace and tranquility...and she needed a lot of it!

Earthly Winds 5 & 6: Praise and Blame
On the many long drives that she and I traveled on the way to work, our conversations often turned to her years growing up on the streets. I would have to compare her to Charles Dickens's character, the artful Dodger. She was innovative and clever, and could take care of herself. There were moments though...moments when I could hear the anger and frustration in her voice. It's the voice of that lost kid wanting to ask why her, why not someone else to shoulder the load; why not someone else to be responsible; why couldn't she just be the happy-go-lucky kid? But then, I'd see her take a deep breath and let it out...and the moment would pass. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, is like the roar of a lion! That's how I'll always remember her.

Earthly Winds 7 & 8: Happiness and Pain
No matter how many times I have to walk into a hospital emergency room, the icky feeling that settles in my stomach always feels like it's the first time I'm experiencing it. Does that make sense? I don't think it's the waiting that gets me unraveled, it's the feeling of not being able to control the situation. It's the realization, that willing something to happen or not happen isn't enough; it's like striking out at the wind, and being spun around and around because there isn't anything solid to connect with. She was scared, I know she was. I know she was, because I know I was scared for her. She was scared and she never would have admitted it. I know she was scared, and I would have never admitted that I was scared for her. But I remember her love, her life, her strength, her courage, her kick-ass attitude, her laughter, her dreams. I remember her. I will remember her. I miss her.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Breakfast Club

Have you seen the movie, The Breakfast Club? I just caught the tail end of it last night, but I'm sure I've seen it at least 10 times or more since it first came out in 1985. There's a scene in the movie where the five kids (the brain, the jock, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal) are sitting on the floor in the library, and they're beginning to open up, share things and learn things about each other and themselves. It's essentially the pivotal part in the movie when they learn that while everyone is different, they're all pretty much the same. It's not exactly the "ah-ha" moment but, when I watched it last night, I realized that I had had my own "Breakfast Club" scenario in high school.

There were five of us (Daniel, Junior, Claudia, Selena and myself) that had talked our way out of history class under the guise of doing library research. Over the course of the school year, the five of us had all become acquainted with each other just because we had taken the same history class together. Daniel was the star athlete, Junior had transferred during our junior year, Claudia and Selena were popular and intellectual, and I was -- well, just me. I had friends that I hung out with, I was on the track team, and I guess I was fairly well liked by most of the people I knew.

This was our senior year, and I had never really taken the time to get to know Daniel, Claudia or Selena prior to that class; whereas Junior and I quickly became best friends the year he transferred in and we were pretty much inseparable. Junior and Daniel bonded over football, Claudia and Selena were friends with Daniel, and I guess the circle of circumstance just worked its magic and drew us all together.

My "Breakfast Club" moment happened on that one day that we had sweet-talked our way out of class, and got a pass to the library. We took a table towards the back and initially settled down to get some work done. But really, who were we kidding? It was freedom! After about five minutes of small talk, and spreading out books and paper to make it look legit, we began to share stories about ourselves. Some of what we talked about has faded from my memory, but I realized that the people sitting at that table really weren't all that different from myself. Daniel was funny and had a quick wit that I admired, and he had the ability to laugh at himself. Claudia and Selena weren't the enigmatic geniuses that I thought would never give me the time of day. I found myself coming to the realization that we three had a lot of things in common. And, Junior was what I had already known him to be . . . a really great friend. For myself, I think they all found out some things about me that they didn't know . . . and they still liked me.

I have nothing negative to say about my high school years. I had a great time. I had fun. I had a lot of friends. I have tons of great memories to draw on, but I think watching the movie made me realize that I missed out on opportunities of getting to know more people. But, I think that was sort of the point of the movie. Comfort zone; step outside of; bubble; burst.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Born on the 7th of May

My brother and I were both born in the month of May; he's four years older than I am although he would never fully admit to being "that" old. Ever since we were kids, we always celebrated our birthdays together not because it was cute or quirky, but because his birthday was on the 4th and mine was on the 7th, and with four children in the family it gets expensive celebrating individual birthdays within the same month.

My last real birthday party that I had with my brother was when I turned 7 and he was 11. To be perfectly honest, I never minded the combined birthday parties. We had the same friends, same relatives, and board games were big back then so gift giving wasn't a big deal. My mom and dad packed up our big blue Ford station wagon with four very excited kids, and loads of food, drinks, music and headed to the beach. I remember we had a white cake decorated with yellow flowers and green leaves made out of frosting and it said "Happy birthday Danny and Rita." I thought it was the prettiest cake I had ever seen. We played dodge ball, swam in the ocean, ate barbecue, had games and prizes, and then cake and ice cream. The party lasted well until the sun went down and the memory has lasted even longer. It was the best day ever! I love how that moment is such a vivid memory.

As we all got older, there weren't so many actual birthday parties; we had birthday dinners at the restaurant of our choice instead. It was nice, but nothing compares to that one specific birthday. So, on the occasion of my birthday, I declare my 7th birthday as my official birthday memory for all future birthday celebrations. And should my brother and I decide to have another birthday like that again, I will definitely send out invitations.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dear Diary...

There is no one in the world that knows more about me than "Dear Diary." Since I was fourteen years old, I started writing to "Dear Diary" and our relationship has continued to blossom. Sometimes I'm hesitant in what I write to "Dear Diary," because I'm afraid that I'll be a disappointment. But "Dear Diary" has never raised an eyebrow or objection about anything that I've written. Instead, "Dear Diary" has remained steadfast and faithful and has never judged me. Sometimes, when I don't feel like writing to "Dear Diary," we sit and reminisce. I can't believe how much "Dear Diary" remembers. "Dear Diary's" memory is astounding. There are instances that are crystal clear to "Dear Diary" that I may have completely forgotten. More importantly, I can't believe how much "Dear Diary" continues to teach me even after all these years. There are times when I have written to "Dear Diary" in absolute assurance that certain actions of mine were true and correct or my treatment of others were justifiable, but as time passed and "Dear Diary" is in the mood to reminisce again, in the most non judgemental way I am brought to see the real truth of my actions. "Dear Diary" is my most truest mirror and my most dearest confidant. There are times when thoughts run ragged in my mind and without "Dear Diary" I would drown in them. And then there are moments, the most solitary of moments, when I feel so weighted down that "Dear Diary" is my only solace and comfort. I'm most grateful for the times that "Dear Diary" has forgiven me when I have
been lapsed in writing. I would sometimes have dry spells that last months and when I finally do write to "Dear Diary" I'm playing catch up with all the events that have happened. I feel bad that I've treated "Dear Diary" so poorly, but never a harsh word is spoken about my absence. Even now, when I've put off writing to "Dear Diary," there are so many things that I could have or should have written; I feel neglectful but at the same time I know that "Dear Diary" is patient and knows that when I am ready to write . . . I will.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Living in Envy

It's been nearly a week and a half. I still can't believe they did it. My sister and her family have moved back to Hawaii! I spoke to her yesterday and there was a sound of relief and lightness in her tone; it was as if she were smiling through the phone. I am so envious of her...happy, but envious. I could "hear" such a huge change in my sister's voice. She kept saying, "I'm so glad to be home." It made me even more homesick. I wanted to jump on the next plane out of here. I wanted to just shed everything that's holding me here and head on home to Hawaii. **sigh**

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hail To The Chief

I have never taken an interest in politics. I claim no political affiliation (much to the disappointment of my father, a long standing Democrat). And yet, this past presidential campaign had captured my interest as never before. I found myself watching with growing interest some of the more high profile candidates. I wasn't very informed on the politics of the candidates, but still I listened and I watched and I waited.

The first time I ever heard Barack Obama speak was in 2005. He was receiving an award from the NAACP. I didn't know much about him other than he was senator of Illinois and I don't recall much what he said. I do remember thinking how eloquent he was, how passionate he seemed to be, and how he could possibly run for president one day and have a really good shot at it.

In a speech given at a dinner fundraiser back in 2005, Mr. Obama stated, "The battle lines may have shifted and the barriers to equality may be new, but what's not new is the need for everyday heroes to stand up and speak out for what they believe is right." He may already have been grooming himself for the White House.

Fast forward three years and presidential candidate Barack Obama is spiraling up the polls and generating a historical ripple that would change the face of this nation. He campaigned in Utah when I was still living there. The news reports showed a huge following in a predominantly Republican state. The press coverage showed a mass amount of people showing up to support him. That was impressive.

At the California Democratic Convention, he said "if we don’t meet those challenges, we could end up leaving our children a world that’s a little poorer and a little meaner than we found it." He sounded sincere, concerned, hopeful, truthful...he sounded like he really wanted to make a difference. And I believed him.

When he says, "Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work. That's the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper." I believe him.

And when he rallied the country under one banner and reached out to those across the globe, he spoke to the world saying "This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can." So says, President Barack Obama. And I believe him.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There is a book store down the road from where I live; I've passed it every day for the past 2 months. I look for the sign, even though I already know what it says, and as I come up on it, I read it and it makes me smile. Yes, that's odd, weird even, but it does...so, there! Two months is a long time to deny myself the opportunity of perusing the endless possibilities of literature. I was hesitant to go inside because, well don't laugh, but I didn't want to be disappointed. I didn't want to find that it was a crappy store full of crappy books. That would have been so disheartening and....crappy.

Paperbacks Unlimited, which is the name of the store, is a literary treasure trove. They have a large selection of genres to choose from, which I can attest to because I walked the length and width of the store in the course of 3 hours. It didn't take 3 hours to walk through the store, it took me 3 hours of perusal within the store. I shop in bookstores like some people shop for clothes or shoes. We are all addicts of one thing or another. I publicly acknowledge that I love British literature best, but I would never presume to limit myself to any particular genre, because . . . well, I love books.

So, imagine my surprise when I found a book entitled "Danny Boy, The Lengend of the Beloved Irish Ballad." I've always had a fascination with the song "Danny Boy." I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that my brother's name is Danny, but ever since I was about 7 or 8 years old, and I heard Doris Day sing "Danny Boy" I was hooked. And now I have a book about the song.

3 interesting facts about the song "Danny Boy."
1.) The words were written by a British lawyer (Frederick Edward Weatherly) who wrote it on a train on his way to work in 1910.
2.) The tune for the song "Danny Boy" is based on an old Irish melody called Londonderry Air that is over 300 years old.
3.) The lyrics for "Danny Boy" had been filed away for 2 years until Weatherly was sent a melody and was asked to write lyrics to compliment the music. He dug the lyrics of "Danny Boy" out of his old files, and with only a few alterations, a new song was born.

The author, Malachy McCort, wrote that the song "has a profound effect on people from all corners of the world, a trait it shares with the truest of any work of art." As much as I love the song, "Danny Boy," I never once thought of it as a work of art. But, McCort is correct in stating that the song has the capability of reaching people everywhere, and after having read the book, I can see the artistic value of the song.

A melody was performed by a blind Irish fiddler and his tune is carried across the sea and mingled with the words of an English lawyer who creates "a song capable of describing, at least in part, the contents of the human heart." Any rendition of the song will cause a lump in my throat and bring tears to my eyes. The words are full of longing and sorrow, faith and hope, loss and reunions. It's all of those adjectives and more.

Aren't books wonderful?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Paris Window

I took this picture as I stood on the bridge across the Seine river in Paris, France. My cousin and I maneuvered our way through the underground metro (which took us at least 30 minutes because we kept getting turned around) and made our way street level; cars, crowds and buildings far older than anything we had ever seen rose up in front of us. They were old and ornate, they bespoke of queens and kings, of revolutions and royalty. And here I was standing in history; standing on the streets of Paris!

We walked down the Champs Elysee and sat on a bench where we ate baguette sandwiches, chocolate crepes and drank Orangina. We watched the cars and the beautifully dressed people go by. I had always dreamt of such a moment, but never really thought it would become a reality, an actuality. It was beyond my dreams!
Sometimes, I am in awe of some of the things that I do. Isn't that a weird thing to say? I executed a plan which put Sonja and myself on a plane to France and surrounded us in a culture and language that was foreign on so many levels.
The reality of my life is that I sometimes bog myself down with too much thinking and sensibility. I put my mind into overdrive and can literally think myself out of things that I really want to try or what I imagine myself capable of doing. I can be so irritatingly practical at times.
I stood in front of Notre Dame! See the picture? That's me -- standing in front of Nortre Dame! How unbelievably incredible is that?! I often dreamt of what it would be like to walk the halls of the cathedral, look up at the stained glass windows or sit on the church pews and soak up the atmosphere. Now, I don't have to wonder any more. It was awesome!
Of all the photos I took while in Paris . . and trust me there are a lot of them, this next picture is my favorite. TAH-DAH!!!
A picture of our window looking out on the street below. We stayed on the 5th floor in the Hotel de Paris, which is in the 19th district. Basically, we were on the outskirts of the Paris district. We were hard pressed to find any Americans in that area. And still, we strolled the streets as if we belonged. We became prolific in saying, "Bon joure" and "merci" to everyone we met. And we even ordered croissants in French. Can you beat that?!
And every night, after our daily adventures, I would sit on the window sill and look down on the street, listening to a cacophony of Parisian sounds below: sirens that echoed in the night (we found it was a regular occurrence), and sounds of laughter and music floating up to our open window . . . I was thrilled by it all! I was in love with Paris! I love Paris!

It was exhilarating knowing that I had done something so out of the norm, and out of character! I want to carry those feelings and memories of being courageous. It's so empowering! So, I think I'll make a copy of my Paris window and carry it around with me. It'll be the reminder I need to always be courageous enough to just . . . try.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

RE: Email on Burundanga Drug‏

So, I got this email from my cousin in Hawaii. You know how it goes: spams, forwards, junk mail, alert! alert!, this was so cute, I just had to send it, etc., etc. The gist of the email was that some lady at a gas station was approached by some guy who gave her his business card. She drove away and noticed the guy following her; she also noticed a strange odor on her fingers and began to feel dizzy, and couldn't catch her breath. With some quick thinking on her part (so the email goes), she got away, the man drove away, and thus we now have an email about drug-laced business cards.

The email states: "This drug is called 'BURUNDANGA' and it is used by people who wish to incapacitate a victim in order to steal from or take advantage of them."

I replied to everyone (42 people) who's email was attached to mine . This was my reply:

You know how sometimes good intentions get the better of you? This is one of those times. I read the email below about the drug-laced business card and I thought to myself "how crazy is this world getting? You know?" And then, it got me thinking...can someone actually ingest a drug (of such high toxicity) into their skin just by holding onto a business card? Really? On a business card? Who are these people handing out these cards? High-level espionage spies?! And why go to all that trouble to stake out unsuspecting women at gas stations? And if such a thing were taking place among the general population, wouldn't that be something that the press would have jumped on? I mean, come on, that would be a HUGE storyline!

So...I googled the name of the drug "Burundanga." As it turns out, it is a drug which originated in Columbia; similar to date-rape drugs and often used on unsuspecting tourist, so the story goes, which you can read on the following website which also has copies of the aforementioned emails: http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/burundanga.asp According to the website, the drug is typically "slipped into the food or drink of the intended victims, or it is packed into cigarettes or sticks of gum." The website also indicates that the drug cannot be absorbed through the skin, and there are no legitimate reports of it having happened here in the United States. Basically, (and thankfully) the drug is currently only associated within the regions in and around Columbia.

And now we can all rest easier....one less crazy situation to worry about! Ahhh.... :) Rita

Sometimes, I have way too much time on my hands. LOL!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The "Four" Tag

Four Things I did today:
1.) Made breakfast for my uncles and family.
2.) Went with my uncle to pay off funeral services for my aunt (it's been a tough month).
3.) Picked out an Urn for my aunt's ashes (I think she would like it).
4.) Sent out online obituary to Honolulu Advertiser for my aunt.

Four Things on my To-Do List:
1.) Get back on my work schedule.
2.) Pack away my aunt's clothes for my uncle.
3.) Organize my aunt's financial paperwork for my uncle.
4.) Get my own bills organized.

Four Guilty Pleasures:
1.) Sleeping...it's my favorite past time.
2.) Alone Time...just to get away from everyone.
3.) Food...of all varieties. Ummm...yummy.
4.) Wanting to hibernate to read and write.

Four Random Facts:
1.) I really, really like croissants.
2.) If I could do without a cell phone, I would.
3.) I want to go to my high school reunion this year...it's in Vegas!!
4.) I'm thinking of moving back to Hawaii...still in the thinking stage, only.