Voices

On my birthday, many people called me. My mom and my sister, they are serial callers. I talk to them every weekend. But then out of the blue, my Aunt also called me. She was going to call me earlier in the day but with the six hour time difference between New York and Hawaii these days, it was only a quarter after five in the morning. I would have been asleep and there is a high likelihood that I would not have picked up. So she sent me an email instead at that time telling me that she had been planning on calling instead but that it was too early. I was impressed that she had emailed me. But then, there she was, calling me at a much more Hawaii friendly time. And I did pick up. And it was great to talk to her. So great that we both wondered to each other why this wasn’t something that happened more often. And who knows, maybe it could be. A thing. A thing that happens more than once year. I would like that.

Then, way later in the day, one of my closest friends from NY called me. I was in the process of dealing with a minor emergency and trying to get all of the things together to go and pick up my son from school. School pick up requires snacks and a drink. When he was younger, he would get really angry if the snack was not to his liking. I generally bring a choice of snacks. Sweet and savory. So that he can choose. Unless I am running late. Or forget. Then I face the snack wrath. So this conversation was kind of cut short. But it was good to hear his voice. We are headed to NY in a couple of months and will invade his home while we are there. He is so gracious. If he didn’t do this, I don’t know where I would stay. I have learned from experience that I really can’t stay with my mother. But that is another story.

Today, again, while I was about to leave to go get my son again, an old co-worker who has since moved to Oregon gave me a call. It was so good to hear his voice as well. We had not spoken in a while. He has a young son and his wife is in law school. They will be moving into their newly purchased home shortly. I am so happy for him. So happy for his family. I love that they are really making it in their new state. I hope that when I finally get myself to Portland that I am able to meet up with him and have some beer. And some good food. And to catch up.

Finally today, in the school pick up area, I ran into one of the dads picking up one of my son’s classmates. I had not seen them since probably last year. We talked about all of the homework that our kids have to deal with in one particular subject. About how we both feel that the teacher is young and trying to prove her worth. Which may or may not be accurate in any way. But we both feel that way. He told me that his son may be transferring to another school. A school designed to better help him out. He has been struggling with work and with depression. He is only 11. I hope that it works out for them. It was a nice chat and I felt buoyed by the discussion.

When I got home I reflected on this. All of this actual phone talking and discussing over the past few days and marveled at what an oddity it has become. And also how entirely wonderful it was. There are so few conversations I have via phone these days. How I feel like I don’t want to actually speak to anyone. How, texting seems so much more preferable. But after these past few days, I think that I am wrong. I think that it is so much more human to talk to someone. To hear their voice. To hear their laugh. Their emotion. It is so much more that I think that I may need to change my evil texting ways. To hear the people I love. Their breath and life. Their feelings. Laughter and love. So if you see my number, pick up, OK? I may just need to hear you.

 

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Birthday

When you get to be a certain age you face birthdays with a bit of trepidation. You know that there will be little celebrating. The likelihood of no presents. And the fact that you will be at work and it will be just another day for the majority of those around you. Today is not my birthday.

I generally work from home and like it just fine, thank you very much. I had to go to the office today for a spate of meetings. That is fine. I expect that to be the case. I almost enjoy actually seeing other people and talking to them. Socializing, I believe it is called. Today while at the office, I got a call from my other half saying that our son was “sick” and he was called to school and had picked him up. Our son said that he was feeling like he was going to throw up. We both thought that his nausea was brought on by the fact that he had basketball practice today with his very yelling prone coach. I was irritated but if he had to come home sick, at least he wasn’t actually vomiting.

By the time I was able to come back home, my son had eaten the home lunch that I had packed him. All of it. I forced him to do all the homework due tomorrow. Some of the homework due on Friday. And one of the things that he said had been completed but hadn’t been. After all of this was complete we were chatting a bit. This is when I discovered the true reason my son had left school. Apparently one of his lovely classmates had made a disparaging comment to him about me, of all things. He has been teased about me before because I have short hair. I thought that was kind of lame. Today it involved me and male parts that, well, I really don’t possess. And my son got upset. He told me that he wanted to throw a chair at this boy and of course, part of me sort of supported that, but the very PC mother part of me told him that he would be the one to get in trouble if he did that. He told me that he left the class, went to the bathroom and then headed to the health room. I am thinking that I am going to have to contact the head of school. This is not the first time my son has had a problem with this boy. A while back he had convinced my perfectly normal weight son that he was “fat.” This was very troubling to me. Was I going to end up with an overly body conscious teen if this was occurring at eleven? But we talked it out and the email was never sent. It may be time.

This evening I spent part of my night doing my son’s extreme dot-to-dot book. They are fairly addicting (ask my mother) in that they often go up to near one thousand and you have no idea what the picture is until you are pretty far in. The book I was doing was the American History themed one and the first picture was of the Boston Tea Party. They were truly rocking the boat. I decided to do another since the first one was sort of stress relieving. The second was a picture of a 1960s flower power hippie chick. She had long hair with those glasses and was making a peace sign. I figure that my reaction to the school incident should lie somewhere between these two dot outcomes. Somewhere between raising a ruckus and going down there and giving this kid a hug, which I am in no way inclined to do.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I am glad for it. I know too many people who are no longer celebrating theirs. Or who are hoping for an opportunity to celebrate at all. And I hate my wrinkles. And I hate my bifocals. But the universe is very clear regarding the alternative so I’m leaning Boston Tea Party on this. The aging thing. What is it they say?……”getting old is not for sissies.” I’m trying to not be a sissy. I’m trying to do the right thing. For myself and for my son. Sometimes it is all just unfair. And there is no room for flower power. Like now.

 

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Groundhog Day

I feel like my life is very much like the movie Groundhog Day. The one where Bill Murray keeps living the same day over and over. Except my repetitive life happens annually and not daily. While at times I appreciate Facebook sending me pictures of what I was doing some years ago on that very day, I often find that I am doing the same thing very near to that same day. Like baking pies for Thanksgiving. Like going to the Chinese New Year’s parade down in Chinatown. It is kind of disturbing to me.

Then I start thinking that I need to do different things. Try different things. Maybe take up a hobby. I frequently envision myself playing the guitar and singing. Then I think that it is not in a cool, campfire at the beach way but more like the nun in the movie Airplane when she keeps knocking the dying girl’s IV out. Or something along those lines. I have a guitar, in the closet. It was even refurbished so that it would be easier for me to play. And I’ve got a book. And there is always the internet. I should have kept trying when I was younger but I didn’t.

But maybe if I took up trying to play the guitar, it would help to break the cycle. Of course, if I can’t even seem to find time to write, how would playing the guitar work? Because really it should be more about the writing. I have always liked to write. But I was always afraid to write. I was always afraid that I would be laughed at. That I would be judged. That I would not be good enough. I still felt this way to some extent when I started this blog. I was moving. Quitting my job. Going to live with my mother for six months. All of those things were scarier than writing. Scarier than putting it out there. So I did. And then somehow I ended up in the magazine produced by my work. Shameless self-promotion (see latest article here). But at times, instead of embracing the need to write I don’t. For no good reason.

I wish I could be more dedicated. Ensure that there is time set aside to write. Potentially every day. It could be done. I know that it could. And sometimes, just sometimes, I think that the writing, that is what I’m supposed to be doing. And all of these baby steps. These opportunities, are telling me that. Reassuring me that this is actually the case. In my head, this solves all of my problems. My imaginary writing career. Maybe someday that will be the case but not quite yet. Hopefully, there is still time and the will to get there.

 

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No Go, Stay

After I had lived in Hawaii a while, I came to realize that, the vast majority of individuals who move here from the mainland, eventually leave. Many women I know have come here came with a man (and they are usually no longer with that man). Like me. Those are the most prevalent stories. People stay for long periods of time and people stay for short periods of time. In my mind, I have been her for about ten years but that is completely inaccurate. My son is eleven and will be twelve this year. So that means that I have been here just shy of around twenty years. That is a really long time.

In that time, I have made friends who have left the island. But I have stayed. It is tough. You get to a certain time in your life and realize that the East Coast is very, very far from Hawaii. And that your mother is getting older (as much as she would not want to admit that). And it just builds up. And it just makes it hard to keep staying. On the flip side, I have a good job. We like where we live. And the significant other’s family all lives here. I know that this is the issue that many couples have. There is no easy resolution. And I still have none. I go to NY every year. I try to stay longer and longer. I even stayed for six months once.

And, mostly, these days, the people that I know are the kind that are going to stick around. They are older and maybe have kids. They are staying. Until they are not. I heard tickly rumors this week of one for sure and one potentially shocking leaving along with another that has been known for a bit of time. This goes along with my friend who hightailed it off the island recently to go to Portland. She did not want to go. But kind of had to. It was like pulling off that bandage. I had forgotten what the leaving feels like. And I don’t like it. So then to hear about the new two today. It fills me with a mixture of sadness and a bit of jealousy.

I know that there are difficult decisions to be made as time goes on. Decisions about my family, both here and in New York. I worry and fret and don’t want to make them. Don’t know if I will be able to make them. I learned about these impending moves while hiking today. And, ironically enough, towards the end of the hike, coming up the trail from the other side, I ran into my old paddling coach. I credit paddling for me staying after the breakup with the ex. It gave me a sense of community. I relived my twenties in a grand fashion. And it really helped me. I wonder, what the universe was trying to tell me today. Stay strong? Go now? I just don’t know. In fact, I don’t even know what I would want to hear it tell me at this point.

 

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Panty Liner War

I infrequently go to the office. I work from home. It is great but I have had to go to the office many, many days this week. On one hand, it is good because I really like the people in my department.

There is a lot of renovation going on in our building and lots of moving about. Part of my department is on an old floor. The partitions are 1970s brown. Some are stained. The layout is not ideal. It is kind of icky. I have been squatting with my department. On the icky floor. I don’t mind so much. Right where we sit there is this weird set of bathrooms. They are oddly placed and if you did not know that they were there, you would likely not find them at all. This restroom still has a bunch of stalls. It is not creepy with just one or two or anything, just out of the way.

This week on one of the days that I was in the office, I happened to go into the first stall. There is a sign in that stall, which of course, I had to take a picture of especially after what happened today.Hey wahine

I feel like it may have been written by one of the folks who spends the days in our building straightening up and restocking the bathrooms. A thankless and kind of never ending job. This sign. This sign was just weird. And sort of inconceivable. And, I was wondering, is this real? Would someone repeatedly toss their used panty liner on the floor of the bathroom? And not just in the bathroom but in the same stall. Only the first stall has the sign. Just the first one. None of the others. The whole thing was just bizarre. And unbelievable.

Until today. Because today was the day, I happened to go into the first stall. The sign stall. And there, strewn carelessly in the corner on the floor was a used panty liner. I was shocked, appalled and mildly amused. But there it was. I wondered if the woman in the panty liner war with the cleaning staff just tossed it over her shoulder as she was sitting on the toilet. Into the corner. I wonder how long this has been going on. I wonder what kind of person does this. Even after the sign. To continue doing it despite the sign. Someone with a personal vendetta with the cleaning staff? Someone who gets a kick out of forcing people to clean up after them? Maybe makes them feel better about themselves? Maybe a little more powerful? I really couldn’t say.

Many times, when I write my blog, these ordinary things, the things that happen in my day, remind me of something bigger. They tell me a story. They make me feel a certain way. I was not sure if this story was the same. If this held the same value. But maybe it does in that it seems to demonstrate, just a lack of respect for someone. For another person. Just trying to do their job. Just trying to get by. Like stepping on that person, just because you can. It seems that there is a lot of stepping going on these days. And it is not pretty to see. In the bathroom or in the spotlight for all the world to see. So maybe the story is just that we can do better. And we should.

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Strange Days

If I were a sort of superstitious person, I might think that 2016 was out to get me. It has been a very interesting two months so far. There has been a trip to the ER in the middle of the night when I was experiencing heart palpitations. Those are the two magic words in the ER. You walk in and say you are having heart palpitations and you go to the front of the line. Do not pass go. Of course, once you get in and they figure out that you are actually fine, then you spend hours waiting for stuff to happen. But, compared to the alternative this is a much better outcome. I drove myself to the Women and Children’s Hospital which is very close to my house. When I was being discharged late into the evening, they basically told me that they loved me but that if I was having heart issues, that I should go to a hospital that had better capabilities to treat me. Like a different one. I know that this is the case because in the first room that I was in, the elderly woman on the other side of my curtain had this happen to her. She had to have a CAT scan and then it was sent to someplace on the mainland to be read. They were waiting for the results. She was cold and tired. Her psychiatrist son kept telling her to go to sleep but she did not want to. She kept asking him if he was cold. It turned out that she had a blocked esophagus which was causing pain. They were going to have to transfer her to another facility to be able to treat her. That would have been me if I had to go someplace else. But I didn’t. I was discharged without incident.

Then a day later, my son’s school called me to tell me that he had hurt his ankle. I can’t lie. I did not really believe he was that badly injured. A couple of evenings before at home, he had stubbed his toe and was on the ground writhing in pain and crying. This is why I had my doubts. But when I got there, the ankle was decidedly egg-like and he was very gimpy. I called the pediatrician and they fit us in. We got there and there was an examination, a trip down to admissions so that we could then get an x-ray of the ankle and finally to the PT department where they gave my son a training lesson on how to use crutches. And, I have to admit, those folks were great. They put this thick nylon belt on my son’s waist to hang on to him in case he slipped during the training. Up and down the hall. And up and down the stairs.

Right after this, we headed off to Los Angeles to totally geek out at the Gallifrey One convention. If you don’t know what that is, it is the biggest Doctor Who convention in the U.S. I may be exaggerating but it felt like that. I was with my people. Whovian I really embraced it on the second day, as you can tell from my lovely new TARDIS socks (I had the hat already). And I felt really good about myself. We had our pictures taken with Michelle Gomez, aka Missy, aka the Master. It was completely and totally awesome. We are very interested in attending next year but will have to see if we can get tickets. I am cautiously optimistic.

And we are into this week, and today in particular which included a mongoose sighting out of my back sliding glass door. It was scary and rat like and I did not like it. Then all the electricity went off. One minute, working away happily and the next, black screens. I was confused at first but then realized that all was off. Of course I tweeted to the electric company after calling to report. They let me knew crews were in the area. And then it was back. I had to run off to the office to have a meeting with someone who is generally unpleasant to meet with. It is what it is. Sometimes I have to do these things. This person, just comes across as condescending. My co-worker thinks it is because this person is shy. I find it hard to agree.

And we will be doing some deep cleaning of our place over the weekend to prepare for our two Japanese student visitors who will be with us next weekend. And my friend’s high school aged son will be tutoring my middle aged school son in math to help my son’s confidence. And we will be attending the hipster gathering at the museum tomorrow evening. And hope to engage in some silent disco. The one thing that I have to admit is that so far 2016 has been quite the year. And since I’m not that superstitious, I’m okay with that.

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Trumped

And then there was Trump. Today we were listening to NPR on the drive home listening to some Colorado Congressman railing against President Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Prison because then some of the prisoners would go to Colorado. He then tried to argue that this would somehow make Colorado a target for terrorism since some of these guys are bad, bad, bad guys. I actually could not bear to listen any more. I turned on the oldies station which was playing “Dream On” by Aerosmith and it was the part where Steven Tyler is singing in a very, very high pitched voice. It all seemed very appropriate.

My son’s school has a sister school in Japan. Every year our kids, when they are in 8th grade, visit Japan and their kids come and visit our school. When the schools swap kids, families of the students are asked to provide a home for at least one to stay at. We had not volunteered. It was more about the space for us. We are larger than we used to be but we are still in a smallish two bedroom and one bathroom apartment in Makiki. So I pretty much did not really consider taking a student. It just seemed like three humans with penises and only one bathroom seemed not great. But then I received an email from the school yesterday with the word “plea” in the title. The Japanese students are arriving next week Friday and they had still not been able to place six of them. Before the “plea” email, I had discussed this with my family and we were feeling like we could do one. Plus, this sort of homestay experience, it reminds me of my time in the Peace Corps. I stayed with a family for what seemed like forever. They let me live there and fed me and it was incredibly gracious of them. The other volunteers and I became part of the village.

So then there I was sending an email to the Japanese teacher at school volunteering to host my son’s pen pal. The response was, well, he was going to the head of school’s house with another boy, would you be willing to take both? Gulp. Sent email to gauge family’s willingness. And now, we are hosting two Japanese students, the weekend after this for two nights. The Japanese teacher offered me an air mattress which was very gracious of her.

And honestly, after listening to NPR today. And after learning that apparently Donald Trump has won the Nevada caucus. I am feeling good about this. About hosting these boys. About having them stay with us. And, I did not think about this until this afternoon, but this whole Trump thing is completely disheartening for me. He is like the embodiment of a lot of ugliness in this country. And I would like to think, that as a country we are better than this. We are better than threatening to punch people who say things we don’t like. We are better than building walls and making base comments about entire groups of individuals. We are better as a county.

So I think that taking these kids is part of my trying to act better. Opening up my home to these kids is a small part of demonstrating that we are not a bunch of xenophobic morons. It is something small but maybe that’s how it starts. Small. Because we are better than this.

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