My son is now in middle school. We discovered tonight that he actually might have BO. He actually may need me to pick him up some deodorant. He has expressed an interest in Old Spice. How did this happen? But I digress. Middle school. It involves a lot more effort for my child to stay on top of things. And well, he started out seemingly OK but dropped the ball about a quarter of the way through this trimester and we are still having issues picking that ball up. He forgets to do assignments. Or at least he tells me that he forgot. Or, he actually does them and then forgets to hand them in. That seems worse to me in some way, except for the lying. I really don’t like the lying. To me, that is just unacceptable. I threaten that when he is a teenager and wants to do stuff, I won’t be able to let him because I won’t be able to trust him.

Anyway, middle school, today was not good. The school online grading system told me, and sent me an alert via email, that my son had failed his spelling and vocabulary test. He had told me that he had it. He had told me that he thought he had done well. I was out of my head. I started writing him an email. Taking away all screen time. Telling him that we were going to study vocabulary all week for this week’s test. And then, just like that, it was the F that never happened. It seems that the teacher may have inputted the grade for the review for the test and it somehow turned it into an F for the test. But then he did not get an F on the test. He got a B on the test. So, so, so much better than an F.

Of course shortly after that I received an email saying that he had received a D on some online work that was due. And maybe after the short lived F shock, the D seemed tame by comparison. I had checked the system and that work was not listed anywhere as being due. It was like secret work. I had no idea. I’m sure that it was written down somewhere. Someplace. And he had just forgotten. I can’t hold it against him that much if I also did not even know that it was due. Because of the not knowing, my great idea for the day was to pick him up a planner. A good old fashioned paper calendar type planner. We would go through all of his due work and write it all out. Those standing assignments that are forgotten? They will be in the planner. So we will always know. I was going to get a largeish one so that we could write big. We write big.

I ran to Office Depot after my boot camp class tonight. I have to admit that I can’t remember the last time that I was in there. I like Fisher Hawaii way better but I thought that it might be too late for them. I got to Office Depot and went inside and the first thing that struck me was that it was huge and empty. It was so bizarre. I know that eventually, soon maybe, they will be clearing out to make way for a new Whole Foods (woo hoo!) so maybe that is why the place seemed cavernous. Like they could have used about a quarter of the floor space for the amount of things that they were selling. So odd. I walked around till I found the planner section. And they had a bunch and it was great. Unfortunately, they were all for 2016. I know, it’s October. I know, it’s almost next year. But, know what? It’s not 2016 yet. And I don’t want to wait till next year to be organized. I want to be organized now. Apparently, that is not an option. Apparently, per Office Depot, at this time of the year, looking ahead to the new year, is the only option. I actually could not even believe it. I went and asked a guy in a red shirt who was opening packages of water. He confirmed. They had cleared out 2015. It’s sort of like stores putting out the Christmas stuff now but in reverse. Although the concept is the same. It is the rushing through. It is the failure to live in the moment. It is the need to get to the next thing. I am tired of that. It seems very rat race-ish. I want to take a breath and have it be today not 2016. But today is not possible at Office Depot. Only next year is possible.

Since 2015 is a no buy zone when it comes to planners, we have decided that we are going to make our own planner for the next three months. We don’t need to buy one. Maybe we will get a fancy 2016 one after that. Or maybe not. Maybe we will just do it ourselves, in that moment, an arts and crafts-like project to just be this year. And not next. We are going to stay in October till after Halloween. And then we are going to do Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, in November. And then, we can think about the other stuff. It is all going by too quickly. I’m not ready to buy Old Spice. I know that I have no choice about that. So we are going to slow it down. Be in the moment. Because soon, I fear, I will be forking over my car keys. Taking a breath. It’s only deodorant today. And it’s still today.

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I haven’t written about my hormonal condition in some time and it may be time to do so again. I am officially pre-menopausal and have been for a few years now (yikes, a few years?! And a bit of sidebar here, I just checked and this could go on for as many as four years. Good lord!) The thing about moving from pre-menopausal to graduating to menopause for real, you have to not have your period for one whole year. And well, what has been happening is that the countdown starts. No period. No nothing. One month. Two months. I think, it’s time, it’s finally time. And then, all of a sudden, it’s back. Like Jason. Like Freddy Kreuger. I am left scrambling for the correct tools for the job. And then the worst part is the lingering. Like a bad cold. It won’t go away. It is more than irritating. And I know that I could have the opposite. I could have heavy bleeding requiring iron infusions because I know more than one person who had that scenario. So, technically I should be happy that it’s not that bad. It’s just so easy to slip into the woe is me mindset. 

And it seems that with the coming of this again, it is making my brain fuzzy. It is difficult to describe. The best explanation I have is the scene in the David Tennant Doctor Who days when the master is becoming everyone in the world. Everyone, right before they turn into the Master, their heads move so quickly that you can’t see their faces any more. That is what it is like. Blurry. But frenetic.  

You can watch this too long clip if you’d like for demonstration purposes:

And then last night, watching PBS there was a show about this wildlife park in Africa. They were with a woman who studies elephants. She was saying how these particular herds have a much higher prevalence of animals without tusks. Apparently this is a genetic anomaly but now that so many of the tusked animals have been poached, this is what is occurring. It is dreadful sad. It is the kind of thing where you think that the entirety of the human race kind of sucks. And as I was watching this show, it made me feel as if I had never really seen an elephant before. Is that possible? I felt like I had this heightened awareness. Like how people describe hallucinogenic drug experiences. It was all too much. The elephants were too real. Too threatened. I felt like it was my fault. Like I should be doing something about it.  

And today, it was a difficult day to concentrate come the afternoon. My brain felt slow and stuck. But like it was still going a million miles a minute. I think that this has to do with a serious hormonal imbalance what with taking low dose hormone pills and having my period. It seems to be a cumulative effect that is frying my brain. It is good that it is Thursday. I am ready for some pumpkin porter and some Taco Bell. I’m pretty sure that will help dull the static and slow down the movement. I hope so since I can tell that I’m on that hormonal edge where crying could occur at just about any moment. For just about any reason. I’m hoping for no Folger’s re-united in the kitchen or other Hallmark moment commercials. Check in again with me in a couple of months, maybe the count will have started yet again. Till then, I say cheers with my hormonal cocktail and a pumpkin porter.

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Living in Hawaii for any length of time teaches you one lesson for sure, people leave. They leave for many reasons, including being told to by the military, for better jobs and opportunities, for a larger dating pool or because they realize that these islands are really, really far from their family and loved ones. It takes some people longer than others. Some make it here. Lots don’t. And when your people start leaving, it is difficult. Sure you find new ones. But then, sometimes, they leave too.

I have been in Hawaii a long time. Apparently more than 14 years since I was here on 9/11 and that was yesterday. I have lost a lot of people to the mainland. And at this point in life, my circle is kind of smallish so to lose anyone now is tough to take. I find myself not wanting to see the leaving person. As if that will prevent it from actually happening. I know that this is ridiculous. But I can’t help it. I must seem like such a dick but really, it is just to prevent me from crying and crying.

Someone left. Today as a matter of fact. And, the thing is that I did not see her a whole lot. I fed her sometimes, bringing food to work when I had overcooked for my family. We took her along on family outings sometimes. She came for dinner at our place. Helped me hang stuff on the walls. And helped me assemble a desk once. She designed my son’s cool Ikea

son's messy but cool bed

son’s messy but cool bed

based loft bed which is totally awesome. She was the person who I thought would never leave because she loved it here. She is an avid surfer, and let’s just admit it, is cute as a button. She is talented, smart and fun to be around. If anyone was going to stay forever, it would have been her. But she is on a plane right now to Portland. To start a new life. A cheaper life. Maybe a more professionally rewarding life. A life a little closer to her family.

karaoke screen

Journey! Bad videos of 80s girls!

So as much as I wanted to hide away and pretend that today was not going to happen. I booked a room for us to go and sing karaoke. I know, you mainland types scoff at karaoke. And perhaps I did too at one point. But the beauty of the private karaoke room is that you can sing your head off and sound like a cat being put through a paper shredder and no one cares. And the way that we do karaoke, everyone sings. You don’t need a microphone. You just sing. This is really fun. Especially when a song hits that sweet spot where everyone knows, likes and can sing it and for a moment everyone’s voices join in song.

Someone described this on FB as “joy”. And I started thinking about that and completely agree. I am not a church goer but there is something joyful and meaningful in this. It reminds me of when I was a kid and forced to attend Catholic service with my parents. Sometimes, in the basement of the church, there was a service with young people playing guitars. I loved it. Then there was the time that A Prairie Home Companion came to Hawaii and the entire audience was asked to sing this old hymn. It was for Memorial Day and all of those voices, singing together, was quite moving.

Singing karaoke may not reach the level of a Catholic mass but there is something to be said for letting out your inner Madonna or Steve Perry (how I date myself). There is something about singing with your friends in a room. At the top of your lungs. With no judgement. When all the voices come together as one. It is joyful. That is how we bid adieu to my fair friend Anna. We wish her the best in her new state and hope that sooner rather than later we will have the opportunity to come together with one voice. Even if it is Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Happy trails friend, we love you.

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A Day

Sometimes, I wonder if the days that I have are like the days that everyone else has. Then I wonder, is it just me? Or maybe, everyone has days like me but it just doesn’t affect them like me. Or maybe everyone has days like me but they don’t notice. Back in the day, when the subway always seemed kind of scary, we would always be approached by the strange folk on the train. Not so much asking for money but sort of scary in a potentially mentally ill kind of way or an I-may-rob-you kind of way. The kind of situation when you would just sit there begging and praying that this person would not come up to you but then they always did. My days are sometimes like that. The freak magnet on the subway. The legend seemingly lives on regardless of locale.

Today was one of those days. It might be because I am off of my hormones this week. Anyway, I decided to go to Starbucks this morning before heading to the office for a meeting. I decided to not go to the one at the Safeway that is really close to my place. I just couldn’t take it. The line. Always a line. And so, so, so slow. I grow old on that line. And I somehow feel like it is not the workers’ fault. I realize that this is really irrational but I think it stems from when they only had one person working. Like every morning. One person. She took a bunch of orders then made a bunch of the drinks and then went back to taking orders again. I could really never get mad at her. But today, I went to the Ward Starbucks, which is apparently the busiest one on the island (but that could be totally made up). I got to see a guy (let’s call him D.) we know who works there who I hadn’t seen since I was in NY. The place was packed. It was so full of people that it was practically alive. The entire place. Like some weird coffee infused hive. Anyway, I chatted with D. and then, had my coffee, had coffee for my boss (because you do that sometimes) and I was headed out. And then there was this person and I had this totally weird moment where I felt like I knew him. Like you do when you see someone that you know and you haven’t seen them in a really long time. And I almost said hi, to this complete stranger before I realized that I did not know him. It was disconcerting in an alternate universe/past life kind of way. Because it just wasn’t that I thought I knew him it was that I felt like it was good to see him. It was very bewildering (synonym to disconcerting, but I like disconcerting better).

I dutifully attended my meeting at the office after that. On the way back home, I was in traffic and heard screeching tires from the opposite lane. A car in the right hand lane had stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross in a crosswalk and the car behind that car, being an impatient jerk, decided to get into the left lane and pass the stopped car. Needless to say, he almost hit the woman in the crosswalk. So close that it took my breath away. Thing is, I am sometimes that impatient jerk that goes around the stopped car. I seriously think that if I had been that almost-hit-woman that I would have lost control of my bladder. It was that close.

Then, I go to Safeway and it is packed. Like, there is no parking packed. Apparently everyone took today off in advance of the three day weekend. There were people by their vehicles in the parking lot filling coolers with ice. I was feeling a bit jealous. I get in the elevator with these two haole women and they are talking about driving. The doors close and it is just us white gals and the one says to the other how everyone is a bad driver here (in Hawaii). And I wonder if I was not me, but someone maybe more local looking if that conversation would have happened in that elevator. And then I think that yes it probably still would have. This is why locals are sometimes not so fond of mainland folk. And not to say that I have never potentially maybe thought or maybe even voiced a similar sentiment. But I would never say it in an elevator. With a stranger. Maybe that makes me a worse person. Or not.

Anyway, I go in and buy salsa, cream cheese and sour cream. The young guy at the register is a large-ish fellow. He is very friendly and I have seen him there before. He asks what I am going to do with the cream cheese. I tell him that I am going to make chili cheese dip which, for the record, is the most delicious white trash dip ever. He asks how to make it. It is literally three ingredients that you pour on top of each other and bake. I tell him. He says, wait, let me write that down. And I tell him again, cream cheese on the bottom, chili on top of that, shredded cheddar on the top and bake till melty. He writes it down. Asks about the sour cream. That is just for eating I tell him. Am I in some weird reality show and no one has told me? He tells me his favorite nacho recipe and it involves kalua pig.

Finally, heading to my car, there are these two local, local guys walking in front of me. They are in shorts, tank tops and baseball caps (are those even still called that?) I am watching them and then they reach the corner ahead of me and stop. I catch up and one turns to me, says excuse me and asks where the Bank of Hawaii branch is. The sign is on the outside of the building but the “branch” is teeny and does not stand out when you are in Safeway. It’s inside I say. Then they laugh and kind of hit each other, like they are sharing a joke. One has those dreadful metallic fillings in his mouth, a bunch of them. It is a funny moment. Clearly they went inside but did not see the branch and were laughing at themselves. They thank me and head off back inside of Safeway.

One hour or so of my day. So rich. So strange. So varied. Lack of hormones? Freak magnet? The why doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Pushing the Envelope

My son is really quite the character. He sort of oozes personality. He is funny and bright. And I just like being around him. I find myself saying to him, something that my mother has always said to me, which is that she loved being around me and she just wasn’t saying that because I was her kid. That’s how I feel about mine. I feel like, even if he wasn’t mine, I’d like him. I’d want to be with him.

Because I think that he is clever and talented, I have been asking that he try out for the school play for the past three years. There has always been some kind of excuse. He didn’t like the show that they were doing. Or he was going to be the only boy in his grade doing it. Or there were no roles for boys. Always something. This year, I started early. I reasoned and discussed. I kept at it all the while we were in NY. I waited and waited to sign up for after school classes so that I could sign him up for drama. I lobbied hard. And it was not easy.

It was a no. And a no. And a no. But I kept not sending in the after school paperwork. And we kept discussing it. And discussing it. And then one day when, after spending a good part of the morning trying to learn a rap about Abraham Lincoln (seriously) and he finally got it, I said to him, see, you learned that rap, you could totally do drama. And he said yes. I almost fell of my chair. I did not really question it or rejoice too much in case he changed his mind. But I knew that if he did not say yes, every day that I made him take drama would be a dreadful uphill battle. It would have been a fight every day. I was not sure that I was up to that fight. So I waited. I bided my time. And I won. He said yes. And I knew that we would be doing it. I was really excited. He said yes even though the play this year is Annie. I totally thought that would seal the deal as a no but that was not the case.

Today was audition day. He had to sing a song. He had to do a monologue. We suggested “Sandy” from Grease. He chose “Without Love” from Hairspray. I found a pseudo-monologue which is the introduction to the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. He brought the book as a prop. Despite working from home, I have had to head to the office both days this week. I left early today and he called me while I was there before he left for school telling me that he could not do it. I told him to read the Daily Word (the daily affirmation magazine sent to me by my mother – “use any word you like in place of god”) from yesterday which was entitled “confidence”. I told him to take it with him and read it all day. He did this.

When I met him this afternoon he was really, really nervous. When he got out, he said it was awful. He said that he could barely sing. He may not make call backs but to me, it doesn’t matter. He said it was the most terrifying thing that ever happened to him in his life. I told him that if that is the case, he’s got a pretty good life. Which he agreed with. I am full and overflowing with parental pride. I know that this was not easy for him today. And I know that this may be the only time he ever does something like this but I give him a lot of credit for going through with it.

I figure whether he is singing with the characters on stage or painting sets behind the scenes, this has been a really good experience for us. For him. To expand himself. He inspires me and makes me think about what I should be doing. Should be trying. What could I do to push my boundaries? I think that I need to take a lesson from my son. I just need to figure out how to best test the waters myself.

Posted in Annie, audition, family, Grease, Hairspray, lobbying, Parenting, patience, school play, singing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Am I?

I have two very close friends in NY. One lives about a third of a mile from my mother. The other lives about two towns over. It is sometimes unclear how this really happened. Like East Marion, the town my mother is in, somehow attracted them. And it was really a good thing. When I go home, I really go home. I stay with Joe. I eat with Mary. I walk to my mother’s. My aunt lives even closer than Mary. I truly feel blessed when I am there. And I do not say that lightly.

My two friends, they, like me, have degrees in science. I can’t speak for them but I always wanted to be Jacques Cousteau (and I was for Halloween. It was great. I had a knit cap and that button down blue shirt. Clearly recognizable). But, after a while, and when your math is maybe not up to par, you realize that marine biology, while potentially satisfying in many ways, does not pay the bills. And I tried for a while. I worked in a lab. I worked for the state of New York. I applied for jobs in my field when I moved to Hawaii. That did not pan out for me.

My two friends, they like me, do not work in the field of science. One works in a bank doing stuff for loans. And the other works for a technology firm “offering clients and businesses of all sizes the most up-to-date hybrid IT technology solutions that solve today’s most complex business challenges” (taking that from the site seemed better than trying to explain it). But the bottom line is that, we do not work in our field of study. And me, well, let’s just say that I do policy, health care policy, the Affordable Care Act to be exact. And yes, I am allowed to call it Obamacare because we have been in relationship since the beginning.

We had this discussion while I was in NY, Mary and I. About how, technically speaking, we really have no skill set. There is no one word label to describe what we do. We are not firefighters or construction workers or lawyers or doctors. We just do stuff. We were discussing how we don’t feel really like we qualify to do much. Like if we had to write a resume, we would not know what to put on it. My mom asks what I do and it is hard to answer. I do what I am asked to do. I do what I need to do. Sometimes I do things because no one else is doing them. Just like Mary. Just like Joe. You get a job and you do it.

I think that for me, it was all my mother. I think because she got divorced and had never worked and could not support us, that for her, the most important thing was for me to able to stand on my own. And to do that, you had to do a good job and you had to show up and you did stuff that had to be done even if no one told you to. And all of that was added to a dash of common sense. And bit of brains. Those two things, my friends totally have. Way more than me.

And, these conversations and thoughts may just be based on that dreaded mid-life crisis time. The time in your life where you contemplate where you are, where you are going and realize that you (and the people you love) will not live forever. These are unfun thoughts. Disturbing thoughts even. But they make you wonder if you are doing the right thing. Living the right life. I think that these thoughts are natural. And although I am not going to run out and purchase a hot car and I am not going to ditch my family for some young buck, I am going to think more. Consider my place in life. Where I want to be. Where that might take me. Who knows, maybe I can really be something when I grow up.

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Bleeding Head Wound

Sometimes I know that I should write but then I just don’t. Maybe I don’t feel inspired. Maybe I am too tired. Maybe I am just lazy. And sometimes when in these moods. Things happen. Things that should make me spring into writing action. But maybe I still don’t. This is where I was today. There was an urban legendy event that occurred in our apartment the other day that should have had me burning up the keyboard. But it didn’t. And, then the universe, being upset at its drama not being enough to get me to sit down in front of my laptop, decided to get real. And it worked. Because here I am. Writing.

So I could go into the tale (ha, tale) of the rat that was swimming around in my toilet when I woke up the other day. But I didn’t write about that right after it happened. And now, something else occurred. Something that was bursting out of me in words while driving home. While shopping. While eating. There was no not writing tonight. Head wound trumps rats.

Tonight was a boot camp night. I love boot camp. For the camaraderie as much as the exercise. I feel like the laughs are as important as the kettle bell swings. The location was Kakaako Waterfront Park for this work out. Point Panic to be exact. It is an area with a large homeless population. Tents line one of the streets close to the parking lot. There are people hanging out in the park. In the parking lot. They don’t bother. There are also lots of other people walking. Or running. It is crowded. It is pretty. And there is a South swell.

So when a young homeless woman came barreling down the hill from the parking lot on a bike with no brakes, she ended up hitting two women who were walking alongside the wall down by the ocean. I witnessed the accident from afar and it looked pretty brutal. The bike came down so fast and there were bodies flying. One of the walkers ended up on the ground. Her friend and a passerby helped her sit up but she could not get up. Her friend was then on her phone clearly calling 911.

Our coach sent us over to see if they needed anything. Arriving at the same time was a fire captain or chief and he quickly took control of the situation. If there is ever a situation, you want someone from the Honolulu Fire Department on the scene. He had a towel and applied pressure to what was a pretty bloody head wound. He talked to the injured woman. He did an assessment of her condition. She seemed relatively alert by that time and he laid down on the ground, head to head with her to apply the pressure. He reassured the friend that he thought that she was going to be OK. That the head bleeds a lot and that it seemed that it was stopping.

The young woman who had hit her on the bike was not injured. I think that she was completely afraid that she was going to get in trouble. She told our coach that she was living in a tent on the road with her sister. And that the bike did not belong to her.

Waiting for the ambulance, it seemed like it took forever, but I know it was not forever. The police came and took statements but it was an accident. It was bad timing. Bad decisions. Just bad. But difficult to place fault. But I could feel the blame and the fault being placed. On this young homeless woman. With the borrowed bike with no brakes. Driving away afterwards, I thought that if she had not been homeless, that the incident would have been more accepted as an accident. I wondered if the girl on the bike had been hurt, if that would have changed the feel at the scene. It very well may have. But she seemed fine. And that helped to more easily place the blame and direct anger towards her.

Coach talked to the girl on the bike the entire time. She got her to stick around for the police to take a statement. I am certain this was not easy for the girl to do. With her borrowed bike. Coach took a look at the bike and basically said it was falling apart. She reattached the front brake cables so that it at least had some capacity to stop. She told the girl that she should get it fixed. The girl was mostly silent. We all knew that the bike would not be fixed.

The ambulance guys checked the woman’s head wound, bandaged it up and the HPD guy (who knew the paramedics) went up and grabbed a gurney out of the ambulance. They helped her up and attended to her for a while. The friend was extremely upset throughout the entire incident and ended up riding to Queen’s in the ambulance.

When we walked back to our cars, the spot where it had occurred was rinsed down. I did not see the EMTs do this but they must have because there was a fair amount of blood around. And if you were not there you would not have known that anything had happened.

I am ever thankful for the gentleman from the HFD tonight who, as these types often do, came running to the scene of an awful thing when most people want to run in the other direction. I believe that the injured woman will be fine, in part due to his actions.

And I feel sorry for the girl on the bike. I wish that I could say that my reaction to her would have been the same regardless of whether or not she was homeless. But I am not sure that is true. If the bicyclist had been a guy on a fancy bike in full on biking gear, I feel like he would have been treated with less blame and less fault. This bothers me. It means that the girl on the bike was less good and less deserving. I don’t like the fact that this was my thought process. I was not the only one but I was one. I don’t want to be one. I want to be better than that. I am unsure what that translates to but I am hoping it translates to something.

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