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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Somebody Else

Last night we attended a bridging ceremony for our son. He is ten and is just about to finish fifth grade. Next year is sixth which is now considered middle school. Back in my day, elementary went up to sixth and then seventh through ninth grades were junior high and then on to high school. I am certain that there is a load of research saying that this is the age of transition, this fifth to sixth age group. The age when kids need to start taking more responsibility for themselves and their school work. The end of handholding and coddling. So last night we celebrated this end. This new beginning.

There were games for the kids. They played the one where you submit a baby photo and everyone tries to guess which kid is which baby. Some of them were truly difficult where others you could totally see that kid even in the baby face. Sometimes it was just the eyes. Or the shape of the head. Mine was easy to tell. He is a very white kid.

Then there was food. There was a lot of passing out of lei. I failed miserably at this. Even after all the time that I have lived in Hawaii there are still a couple of things that I can’t seem to get right. Like bringing lei. And making appropriate potluck food. That still confounds and stresses me.

Next awards were handed out and all the kids received a certification of completion of fifth grade. Their teacher reminding them that there was still nine days of school left. As if he might revoke a certificate or two in that remaining time. The next awards were described as being decided on by the teachers and ranged in recognition for best overall student, noisiest and quietest. My son was awarded the title Mr. Entertainment. He even received a sash, which may have been the highlight of his evening. The quote on his certificate was from a Marshall McLuhan and said, “anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.”

The evening ended with a bit of dancing. The kids had been asked to submit their song choices and one of the parents assembled a playlist for them (who needs a DJ anymore). Once the program was completed, the music came blaring through the speakers. The kids, who had been like rowdy, excitable animals all evening jumped onto the stage. Parents perched around the edges, phones at the ready. It was then that I saw my son. Really saw my son.

You could tell by watching him dance that he seemed to have a dance for each song. No two were alike. He was frequently at the front middle of the stage with at least two or three of the other boys following his lead. Almost like a mini-choreographer. But it wasn’t even just that, it was that his moves, were so good. They were so dedicated and so determined. I can hardly describe it. I was awed. I was hoping that the other parents wouldn’t think bad thoughts of me as he went into full Harlem Shake pelvic thrusting movements (again, not solo, but clearly the leader). He danced with confidence. And he danced like no one was watching. And everyone was. More than one parent commented on his dancing and not as I had feared they might. They seemed to be truly impressed with his ability.

And this weird moment. This dancing revelation moment has made me alternately proud and incredibly sad. And feeling like I should be a better parent. Watching him last night. Seeing him performing all of these dance moves. I realized that even though he is ten he has got things that I don’t know. He has this separate outside life that he has begun to form that I will circle around the edges of for the rest of my life. Peering in to see and to know. But as a parent, I know that no matter how close we are, I will never know it all. Not like when he was just here. Just with me all the time. And that is a sad realization. Of course entwined with happiness because this is what is to be expected.

Moves like Jagger.

Moves like Jagger.

And the part that makes me feel like a bad parent is the part of me that has not yet forced him to take drama or to take a dance lesson. Seeing him last night, I know that he has got at least some talent. And if not talent, a love for it. And that’s a really good place to start. Dance lessons have been pushed to the top of the to-do list after the summer (we are too travelly to make any kind of commitments). But I really need him to try and know. Or try and fail. Or try and not love it. But not trying is clearly not an option.

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Home Body

I started working from home. It has been a weird experience so far (full confession, it’s only been two days). I was afraid for my productivity. My boss is afraid for my sanity and personal hygiene. It is very strange how the introduction of a desk, a place dedicated to work, in my apartment has really helped me to stay focused during the day. So far I enjoy being home. There is way more natural light. It is much quieter (generally speaking, unless loud sports guy upstairs is home. I swear he must yell directly out of his window whenever he is having a conversation. I can’t understand the setup of his place given that sound dynamic.)

The two things that I was most concerned about working from home were eating throughout the entire day and other distractions within my place. Neither of these have yet to pan out. To ensure that I am not eating constantly, I have continued to get up in the morning and make my lunch and make my son’s lunch. If I do that, then that is what I eat for lunch. That has been working out for me. I did put the TV on while I was eating my lunch the other day and I could see where this could be problematic. This is because one of the channels has back to back Grey’s Anatomy reruns on. They are so old. Izzy and George are still around. And they are living with Meredith. Burke and Yang are still a thing. Bailey is pregnant. And Derrick is not dead and in fact is still being referred to as McDreamy. The good old days. It is very, very easy to get sucked into those story lines. Like running into an old lover. The complications so complete and comforting. Like wrapping yourself in a snuggly blanket. The first day at home I put on Grey’s and then I realized that once it is on, it is very difficult to turn off. So I think a work at home rule is no Grey’s. Not even for ten minutes. Because it sucks you in. Entangles you. I can’t be entangled while working from home.

The one thing that I have noticed is that I am very conscientious to not be unproductive. The funny thing is, is that when physically in the office, there is practically no one who is working all the time. There are glimpses at the news. Maybe a peek at Facebook. Or maybe a visit to a co-worker. An email to a spouse or child. Or a conversation in the hallway. And these things are not really considered to not be work because they are still being done in the office. Yes, I may be looking at the news but I am at my desk. I am in the building. I am on company time. That part of the equation, the being part, is removed when working from home. And I find myself worried about how many times I am in the bathroom. Or if it is OK to not sit at my desk to eat my late afternoon snack of a hard-boiled egg (I do like that there is no one to sit in judgement of what, I’m certain, folks previously around me thought to be a crazy diet. Of course, it is likely that there was no judgement and I am just projecting. Eating giant pink grapefruit. Eggs. And for lunch, always a made at home salad. With the dressing meticulously measured out. Thank you very much. Always eaten at my desk. Why? So I could take my “break” from work, working out instead of eating. I would rather eat while working than give up the workout time. Again. Not like anyone I had been sitting near.)

The good thing about my new work desk at home is that it is in the corner. I face the wall so that all the potential distractions are not in view. They are there, but behind me. So I may hear the fridge turn on but I am not within reach of it. I would have to get up to access it. And I don’t do it.

I ended up in the office today at a hotel station. I did not like it. I wanted to be here. At home. Where all my stuff is. When I was having those thoughts I was thinking that maybe this would work out. It would be OK. I would be able to do what I need to do and not physically be in that building. We will see. It is all shiny and new. It may begin to rust. The wheels may fall off. I may stop showering and changing out of my pajamas. But for now, for today. I am all in. At home.

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A Good Dog

This past week my mom had to put down her last golden retriever. Her name was Cricket and it was like the end of an era. Mom still has other dogs but she has changed breeds. Maybe the goldens seemed too big for her small house. I don’t know. I’ve never asked her.

The dogs became an integral part of my mom’s life once she divorced my dad when I was a pre-teen. I may have mentioned in the past that I think she married my dad as a way out of her home life where my grandmother was an alcoholic. When my parents split my mom was forced to do things she had not had to do. Like get a job. This is not easy when you have little education and are suddenly a single parent with two children. But she did it. She worked and she attended college. And she also started dating the man next door. He was a widower with three kids. We became this blended family. Taking trips together and the like.

The man next door unfortunately was not exactly a nice guy. This is entirely my opinion but one that my mom actually might agree with in hindsight. He was very, very jealous. I think that he may have been abusing my mom. If not physically (which I am completely unsure of) definitely mentally. He would get so jealous and angry if she saw anyone else, even her girlfriends, that she eventually stopped even trying. He succeeded in isolating her. Like an abuser. I think that maybe because my grandmother was not the nicest when she was drinking that my mom was used to not being treated well. While she was still with this man, she got her first golden retriever. Her name was Alexis and she was a bit crazy. Her goal in life was to put her tongue in your mouth. She helped my friend lose a tooth one day trying to do that.

Alexis made mom really happy. I remember the two of them in the yard of the house I grew up in. Mom was in the hammock petting Alexis. A rare moment since mom hardly ever stopped. Eventually she decided to sell the house and move out to the town she grew up in. The man was still in her life. I felt like he had mellowed with age. He asked her to marry him. She almost did. But didn’t. He came out by her. They would sometimes go to Atlantic City and he would gamble all the money they had away so that he had to leave collateral at the toll booths to get back to NY. Eventually she would find out that he had taken out a credit card in her name and charged it up. The shine was off. She finally had had enough. And then he was gone. I can’t say that I missed him.

Then she had two goldens, Alexis and Summer, whose personality was polar opposite from Alexis. Mom started taking the dogs to shows. Not the kind where they are judged on their looks but the kind where the dogs are doing things. And she really liked it. She tried both at these shows and eventually added Cricket to the family.


These dogs, I think for my mom, were a way for her to do something that was just hers. For the first time, she was in charge, she was calling the shots and it was all her. I think that training her dogs helped her gain confidence. She took them to shows and some of them won ribbons. That was back in the obedience days when Cricket would blow her stays. Now it is a bit like doggie Olympics. Her dogs darting through tunnels and over bridges. She is supposed to direct them and run the course with them. I get the impression that maybe someone along the way during her life told her that she was stupid. And sometimes I think she can’t get that voice out of her head. The one that says that she can’t do things. The one that tells her she can’t fill out a form. Or that she isn’t doing something the right way. I wish she could make that voice go away. I wish that I could get rid of it for her. I know that I can’t but I also know that when she is with her dogs, when she is running around with them, she does not hear that voice. Because she is going for it.

So this is dedicated to Cricket. A good dog. The last of the golden retrievers. The breed that helped my mom’s confidence. That helped shut down that voice. At least sometimes.

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Yesterday I had my second ever colonoscopy. I am young for one, much less two, of these procedures. But when you have symptoms, they like you to get one. So yesterday was my second. Now, I am here to tell you that it is not as bad as you may have heard……well….totally subjective.

Two days before the procedure, they advise you to drink a lot of water. That is OK for me because I usually drink a bunch of water during the day. Then the day before you are allowed to have clear liquids, no food. You can have clear broth, jello and popsicles. No dairy. No food. No nothing. I was hungry but drank water and came to work prepared with a bunch of cold brewed coffee. Hungry but not starved. Not yet anyway.

Then, at 5:00 p.m. the day before, that’s when all the fun began. That is when I began drinking the approximately four liters of laxative that assisted in cleaning out my colon. It is a lot of liquid. And despite putting something in it that was called “lemon lime” flavor, it still tasted a bit like distilled water from the ocean. Along with a slightly unpleasant taste which was, if truly tasted, pretty gross. The instructions say to begin drinking this magical elixir at 5:00 and have 8 ounces every 15 minutes. So that is three hours of consuming a laxative. It doesn’t kick in till about an hour into the consumption but by the time that three hours expired, my colon was pretty darn clean. Yes, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Yes, I used a lot of toilet paper. I think that my decision to not eat anything during the day was a good one. I would recommend it if possible. Just think that if you put it in during that day, it will be coming out later on. So why put it in in the first place? Just a thought.

Then, most unfortunately, in the morning, there is one more liter to consume. My procedure was scheduled at 1:00 p.m. which meant that I had to finish the lovely drink by 7:00 a.m. and after that I could not consume or drink anything. Nothing. The instructions said that I could brush my teeth but I could not swallow the water. I finished when I was supposed to and had some water before the “do not drink anything” time. I spent the morning on many, many conference calls for work going back and forth to the bathroom (thankfully at home).

I took a late shower since I had a 12:15 check in. We got there too early and of course had to wait. By 12:30 they had still not called me back. I was feeling tired, grumpy and dehydrated. They finally called me ten minutes later. A lovely woman came in and quizzed me about my medical history and told me to change into a paper gown. I have to admit that it was better than most. It was semi-lined and came with socks, real socks (yay, socks). And the gown actually came with instructions. I changed and then the nurse came in to put the catheter in my vein that would deliver fluid and anesthesia. I gave her my standard vein stabbing warning. I have fainted in the past. It has not happened in a long time. But I want to fully disclose. I have issues with the needle puncturing me, my skin, myself. It makes me queasy just thinking about it. It is worse if I can feel it. So I told. And maybe because I told, it made her nervous. She first told me that my veins were good. She put the tourniquet on the middle of my forearm and then tried to stick me on the top part of my hand. This alone is disgusting. And then, it was good, till it wasn’t. She told me that she had “blown my vein”. I did not know what that was so I googled it today (it means that the needle has gone entirely through one side of the vein to the other – ew!!) Then she told me that she would have to take it out. So she did. And put a lot of pressure on it. My initial reaction to this was wanting to burst into tears. But I didn’t. I felt really badly for her. She was trying her best. So I didn’t cry. She easily got it into the vein in the crook of my arm (she used a smaller needle) and it was fine.

Then I walked into the procedure room. It is a surreal experience for a healthy person to have tubes hanging off of one arm and a blood pressure cuff on the other. The nurse told me that she would be administering anesthesia. She told me that if I woke up near the end to just keep breathing. This happened and in my anesthetized state I was convinced that I had not been under at all. I was adamant that I was awake the entire time. This was not the case. I woke at the end and it was definitely uncomfortable. I saw the inside of my colon on the screen. It could have been two seconds or five minutes. I have no idea. And then it was over. The procedure itself was as if it did not happen which I think is the goal. They wheeled me to the recovery area. They were telling me to pass the air out that they had pumped up into me and gave me water (hallelujah) and crackers. I could have kissed the nurses in the recovery room.

When I was finally deemed good to go. I was wheelchaired out and was treated to a very late lunch when we left the facility. I devoured my meal. After the procedure, I was told that it all looked good but I will receive my official results in about a week. Despite all of it, I am glad that I had it done. I know that the symptoms I am having are not indicative of something worse. So if it is time for you, if you are fifty years old or if younger and have colon cancer in your family, go and have a colonoscopy. No one wants to. Everyone is afraid. The preparation is completely unpleasant. But when you are done, you know. And when you know, you just feel better. And knowing is way better than not knowing.

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You are Wrong

What if the person in the world, the person with your face and your life, is not the person that the you inside you thinks they are. What if the outside person and the inside person are at odds. Like one of those giant jawbreakers that is speckly colored and white outside but way, way down inside, there is this tiny bit of completely hidden and different color. So deep that no one sees it. That is me. That hidden away bit. You think you know but you are wrong. split-in-two-jawbreaker

Recently I managed to drop a few pounds. It took a while. Like over six months. Apparently it is enough weight for people to notice. For people to comment. Positively. The whole thing makes me uncomfortable. Because I don’t see what they see. The green sweatpants which used to be the only pants that fit me are now so big that I can’t really wear them without them falling off of my body. But when I look in the mirror I see that same snug green sweatpants wearing person. It doesn’t matter what you see. I am not thin. I am the pudgy one. I could never be the thin girl.

I have been a runner for a long time. I have run fast. I have run slow. I have trotted and I have jogged. I started taking a boot camp class last summer when my son was with my mom in NY. I got stronger. I can do push-ups. I swing a kettle bell. People look at me and think that I am athletic. An actual athlete. But I am not what they think. I am the girl who hid in the back of the line in gym class. The one in the far outfield where the ball never came. I am the one who could never do a cartwheel. The one who only pretended to have had a turn doing gymnastics. Still hiding. I could never be the athlete.

Sometimes I do presentations in front of large groups of people. The topics are generally not very exciting but I try my best. When I am public speaking, I try to be relaxed. I try to not be too nervous. People think that I am outgoing and like to stand in front of people and talk. They say that I am good at it. But I am not what they think. I am the one who is constantly second guessing. The one who is afraid to not know the answer. I could never be the one who knows the answers. I could never be the professional.

This is why compliments are difficult to accept. Because they are not about me. They are about someone else. The shiny hard outside. I realize that this sounds off. Wrong. Potentially demented. But it is what it is.

The one part that I know is me, I think, is that I am a mother. And maybe because although he is part of me, he is separate. I can see him functioning outside of myself. I can see that other people find him as witty and wonderful to be around as I do. I can’t deny that. It can’t be denied when it is right there. I wonder why it is so easy to deny all the rest. The rest that is actually me too.

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