Sisters

Last night I got on a red eye to Los Angeles. After lurking around the terminal there for about three hours, I got on another plane for Dallas, as in Texas. And then I was picking up a car and driving to a hotel. By the time I figured out where I was going to be able to stop moving for a while, I was really happy. It was only about 3:00 p.m. but I had a hard time even remembering what day it was and the last meal I ate. I was going to take a shower and go to this farm to table restaurant that I had found online but then I was afraid that if I did that, I would actually not leave the hotel room. That seemed like a bad idea.

The place was really easy to find, across the highway heading back towards Dallas on the opposite side. And I was glad that I went. It is kind of cavernous and it was mostly empty. I was there at an off time. Part of me thought that I might sit at the bar but woman alone at a bar seemed to not be how I wanted to end my day of travel. I asked the hostess, who looked Filipino to me, if I could sit at a table in a corner somewhere. She asked if I wanted a high top or a booth. I told her about sitting at the bar and she just understood. She said that sometimes she brings something else to deflect them if she is alone. I so appreciated that she wasn’t like, ma’am you are way too old to have someone hitting on you. I told her that I had brought a book. She gave me this giant booth in a corner where I could see almost the entire place. It was great. I thanked her for giving me a place to sit where I could see anyone coming.

 

I don’t know what I was expecting of Texas and the people that live here but it is wildly opposite of everything that I thought. I think that I got my view of Texas from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when he is at a rodeo sings, “the stars at night are big and bright” and everyone around him (decked out in cowboy boots, flannel and cowboy hats, replies “deep in the heart of Texas”. I can tell you right now that it is not like that. Yes, there have been cowboy boots (my waitress for example) and I saw one cowboy hat but that was in the L.A. airport and I don’t think that he was on my flight. There has also been a significant lack of southern drawl as well. But I digress. Perhaps as I get out further from the small circle of my hotel and the airport tomorrow, I will have more to report back. It makes me think that there are more things that unite us in this country but we all carry our stereotypes and, well, maybe they deserve some rethinking. Granted, I have not gotten into a political discussion and it was unlikely that I was going to wear my “I like Obamacare” shirt here but I’m not even talking about that kind of disagreement but more on a superficial level.

Then there was my waitress. She was super chatty and awesome and helped me pick out some tasty beer from their all TX beer menu for my flight. I ordered the fried green tomatoes because I kind of felt like I had to. She recommended the blackened snapper tacos which came with a salad since I had been eyeing them. It is not something that I would have chosen. She told me that she had them for lunch. She told me that she was from NY and that she has taken trips to see concerts in the past. This was after I told her that it was my first day in TX. She told me she was thinking about moving back to NY. I understood. She treated me really well and gave me some tips on where to eat after I make my way to the Dallas Art Museum tomorrow afternoon.

And these encounters, with these women, who were easily young enough to be my daughters, just made me feel like part of the female tribe. To have these kinds of conversations and to be able to connect because we are female and in the same boat was kind of awesome. Age didn’t matter and I liked it. Deep in the heart of Texas.

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Write

I have wanted to take writing on the road for a while since I really only do it on my laptop. And when I thought about having to carry it around, the laptop, it was not appealing. I did not have a bag for it. The track pad on this thing craps out daily (luckily it is a touch screen too). So many things that I didn’t like. I decided to see what folks online thought about how to take your writing on the road. Was there a great device that I could use for this purpose? The consensus was that paper was the best. You could lug it around anywhere. No electricity needed. I was not feeling it.

 Despite this, we went out to Fisher (the best office supply place in my book) to see if I could find something that would match the thing that I thought I wanted to write in. We walked all over. After going through the entire store (more or less) I came upon these giant hard bound calendar books. They were in varying sizes. I wanted the largest one. These were the 2018 year versions and they were on sale for 40% off. The largest one was really large, like 14 inches long and each page is a day. That means that there are lots of lines. Lots and lots of lines for my messy writing (but not serial killer writing which is totally a thing that my co-worker self-admittedly has). The problem was that this sized one was marked $84. I kid you not. Who pays that?

 I thought that despite the deep discount that it would still be too much for me. Then I wondered if maybe they had 2017 versions lying about. I asked. I was directed to an aisle. And there they were. Exactly the same except for this year. And still marked $84. I had a small glimmer of hope that maybe it would be cheaper. I took it to the counter and it turned out to be $8. Sold! I brought home this giant bulky book. The same weekend I re-upped my membership at the Honolulu Museum of Art (formerly and still called the Academy). I really wanted somewhere quiet. Outside and inspirational to write. The Academy has proven to fit the bill. There is a small courtyard with a fountain. It has lovely tiled walls. A tree full of birds. And if there are other people visiting, I generally can’t hear them over the gurgling of the fountain. I like to be there right before they close at five. There is no one there. The birds start to come down out of the tree to bathe in the narrow runway of water that flows from one fountain to the next. One part of the fountain shuts off at 4:00 and the courtyard gets decidedly quieter. Maybe that is why the birds don’t come till then to bathe.

 At first I was unsure of this purchase. This giant red book. With days and days that have mostly passed in it. There is something appealing to me about that. Once, at an airport, I bought an address book and used that to write in. Selecting randomly tabbed letters where people’s contact information should go. Random writing. That is what this calendar book reminds me of.

 When I took it to the Academy the first time, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It felt awkward in my hands. I was not sure where I wanted to sit. It felt really big and really red. I wandered about. I looked at stuff. And then I ended up in the courtyard and that is where I still go.

 At first the writing came slowly. I really want to write a bunch of short stories. I have ideas. But I always seem to fail in the execution. And I really, really hate writing dialogue. But I kept at it. And the book is not just for writing. There are bits of its travels. A small flower found on my car when I went to leave the museum. Parts from the Evensong program from church. Information on the band playing at Family Sunday (Jamarek – check them out). The sticker that they give you when you enter the museum.

 And I have been writing this story. And it is not fast. And I do not write tons. But it is coming along. And the book. It calls me. I can hear it now. Because I know what to write next. And it is in my head and it needs to get out. And that is what I like about how I am writing now. It is always there. Looping around my brain like wisps of smoke. Like an addiction. That is when I know it is good. It is right. What I am doing. And the process. I can feel it inside of me. So maybe it is not the book. It is the story. And I love it.

 

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No Instruction Manual

My significant other picked up our son from school today. A lot had gone one there. There was a hike at the Nature Center close to our place. There was the threat of being told by someone in his class something that would “break his heart.” And there were drama auditions, for Cinderella. So when my family arrived at home today, my son was teary eyed and my significant other was irritated. I tried to talk to my son but he did not want to discuss anything. He just kept telling me that he didn’t want to talk about it and that it was nothing. I knew that was not the case.

I peppered him with questions. Was it the hike? Was it drama? Was it the big reveal that his classmate had threatened? There was no response except for a teary eyed head shake. My significant other, by the time they arrived at home, was just aggravated with the entire situation. I found this to be an objectionable reaction. To get angry in the face of non-communication. I told him that we are headed into the unchartered waters of the teenager years and that this could end up being par for the course, as it were. Significant other disagreed. I disagreed with his disagreement. Did we fight? Not really. But came as close as we usually do. Neither of us like it. The fighting. 

We had gone out to get Taco Bell (because today is Taco Bell Thursday) and when we got back, I talked to my son again. He admitted to me that his audition did not go well. His song was off. He was very nervous. It turns out that only two of the boys who auditioned were even called back. Two, because that is the number of lead male roles that there are. The drama production this year is Cinderella so you can understand the dearth of male roles. The Prince. My son, well, he has not yet hit puberty and he is not the tallest of the bunch. When I think of the girls who could be Cinderella, I am not sure that he matches their height, any of them. This could be problematic. For the Prince role. And, that may have played into it. 

And all of this aside, I wonder how we will deal with the potential non-communicativeness of a sullen teen. When we both, seem to be lacking the tools, or maybe even the toolbox. Today, we were able to get to a place where he did tell us and did talk to us. Patience, and cajoling and more patience. I am hopeful that through that abundance of patience that maybe, we have the plans to create the toolbox. I am not sure how soon we will need it. Need it to be big and sturdy and strong. And full of the right things. The right things to say and do. I worry that, without the instruction manual, we are flying blindly. Doing what feels right based on what we know. Which is sometimes so much less than we would like.

 

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Strangers?

Today I did the usual Sunday stuff which included shopping at Safeway. I wish that I could do all of my shopping at Costco but it is just not possible. So there I was. I went later than I wanted because my son kept telling me that he would wrap up his Overwatch game and he kept not doing it. Until finally, I just left the house and called him from the car to tell him that I was leaving.

The SB line at Safeway was ridiculous because only one person was working. I wonder if it some kind of torture test Starbucks has for its grocery store based employees or if people call in sick. Either way, it really sucks. I know, first world problem. But it is ridiculous.

I was just about done shopping but decided to see about picking up laundry detergent. I feel like I am always on the fence about laundry detergent. Especially when we lived where there was a communal washer. I read somewhere about residual soap being enough to clean clothes but maybe I just used that as an excuse to not buy detergent. Anyway, when I got to the aisle there was an older woman whose cart was blocking my entrance. My first thought was one of irritation. I would normally wait to be acknowledged and have the person just move but today, I put on my nice tone of voice and asked if she could move her cart. She apologized profusely and did so. She had been at the end of the aisle looking at this giant display of what I would call, designer marshmallows. And I was intrigued. She was older than me. White hair. Small accent. I asked her about them. She said that she had seen them in the local paper and that they were on sale. She proceeded to take out the article from the paper that she had with her to show me. The marshmallows were beautiful. Square. In ridiculous flavors like mint chocolate chip and pineapple coconut. And yes, I ended up buying a bag. Then she asked me if I liked bread. I told her yes, and she told me to try the bread that they bake at Safeway, the sunflower seed bread, maybe with honey? She told me that she had called because the last time they didn’t have it. I told her that I would check it out. And then I told her to have a good weekend.

And then I realized how different the shopping experience was for me, just because I had spoken to this woman. And connected with her for the teeniest of moments. Over overpriced and silly flavored marshmallows. I don’t know her. I don’t know her beliefs. Maybe we could not be friends. But that moment. During that small moment we connected. And maybe we just need more small moments. Because the small moments teach us that despite everything, maybe we have more in common than not. And that can’t be a bad thing.

 

 

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Independence Day

 

My son is on the cusp of being a teenager. It will happen in about 3.5 months. He is at a place where he is testing the vast ocean of independence. And today, he dipped a toe in it. He had toyed with going to the 50th state fair earlier in the year with some friends. But then he thought that he would bring his dad. I told him that his friends probably weren’t down for that. He decided that he “wasn’t ready”. So he did not go.

This week, he told me that he wanted to go to the beach with some friends. He mentioned Ala Moana Beach Park. I felt good about it. Mostly. No big waves. Generally full of families. And then, yesterday, he told me that they wanted to meet in Waikiki. And suddenly, I did not feel as comfortable letting him go. I lectured him about not sticking around if the people he was with were doing bad things (I seriously doubted this would actually happen). I told him about the kids in the neighborhood throwing stuff at cars last week. I told him that he should use common sense. I told him that sometimes smart people do stupid things. I told him about how, when I was in college, I got fired from my supermarket job for giving girls I sort of knew a discount on their beer because they told me that was the price and I believed them. The manager did not believe my story of being stupid. I told him all those things.

I dropped him off in front of a store on Beach Walk in Waikiki. The other boy (two boys and two girls – no not like that) pulled up right behind us. That was good. And then he was getting out and he was gone. Well, not completely. In the time we were separated, he called me nine times. The first few times he called to ask which way it was to the beach. I kid you not. He called to tell me that the girls did not like the beach they were at. It was too rocky. My son realized they were near the Hilton Lagoon so they decided to walk over there. He called to tell me that. They pooled resources and rented a paddle boat in the lagoon. Then they changed out of their wet things and walked (another call) over to Ala Moana Shopping Center. There was bubble tea and sushi from Japan walk (and a few more calls). The girls pooled the last of their money and bought some weird nitrogen infused dessert and they shared it.

I picked my kid up in front of Shirokiya and asked him how it was. He told me that he had the best time. He told me it was better than he thought it was going to be. He said nothing bad about it. And I am glad. I am glad that it was fun. And that he felt safe. And that is what I wanted. I wanted him to have a good time. To not run into any issues. To build his confidence. And all of that happened.

And my heart broke just a teeny bit. As it should. I know that this is what you hope your kid does. You want them to do things on their own. But I know that this is just the beginning. It is the beginning of going to movies at night and maybe dating. Driving at some point. All of those milestones that I know will stem from the toe dip that was today. And I remain verklempt about the entire thing.

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Smell Like a Deadhead

One day last week I was driving home in the afternoon. Maybe lateish afternoon. There was a bunch of boys from one of the local middle schools on the sidewalk near my building. As the car in front of me passed by them, one of the boys threw something at the car. It missed and as soon as it was thrown they all ran. So when I went past them they were not ready for another go. They were still scattered and regrouping. One may have been taking a video on his phone.

 

Our kitchen window looks out on the corner where the boys were. When I got inside I could hear them so I looked out, they had crossed the street and when another car passed, the same boy threw something again, and this time, he hit it, the passing car. The kids scattered. And the car, it stopped. And it turned around. And it followed about half of the boys in the group who were lurking in the entranceway of the building across the street from me. The car pulled into the parking lot and an older Japanese couple got out. I saw them go over and talk to the boys. And shortly after that, the police showed up.

I wondered what I would have done if the kids had hit my car. I wondered what my significant other would have done if he was with me and the kids had hit my car. I would have wanted to call the police too but I don’t know that I would have. I’m not sure what I would have done.

I can’t lie. I spied on what was going on through the kitchen window. It looked like the police officer was having the boys call home and then he was taking the phone and talking to who answered. I wondered if I had a responsibility to go outside as a witness. But I didn’t go outside. I thought that these boys were the same age as my kid and I wondered if he would have the foresight to leave the group of his friends if they were doing something similar. Something that he was not actually doing himself but seemingly condoning by not leaving. I thought about how horrified and disappointed I would be in my son if I got a call like that. How punished he would be. For so long.

I talked to him about it. He laughed it off. He told me that he wouldn’t do something like that. And while I believe that he thinks that. I think in the moment, it’s not that simple. Or that easy.

We were in NY over the summer visiting my family. We had gone into the town closest to my mom’s house. There is a shop with a lot of interesting locally made items. One artist mounts the bones of small animals in frames and places them in teeny glass jars on chains. My son found a display of fancy locally made soaps ($5 apiece). He decided to buy one for himself. He dutifully smelled them all. And the one he chose was patchouli. And he really loves it. I actually bought us some more patchouli bath soap online since his pricey bar was almost done. And today, I remembered, that back in the day, I used to wear patchouli oil and it was likely when he was very small or maybe even when I was pregnant with him. And this morning, I wondered if maybe in his subconscious mind, he remembered that smell. Smells seem to solicit strong memory. Maybe that is why he chose it. I would like to think that is the case. It is a nice story.

So hopefully, as parents we are teaching him what to do. The right thing to do. Even if it is not easy. Even if he is the only one. I can only hope that the strength of that is as strong as the memory of that smell. As strong as the patchouli. That crazy subconscious influence. Maybe I will just call it patchouli from now on.

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Happy?

Yesterday morning was not a happy one. My former boss’ son passed away while I was away in NY. It was sudden and unexpected. He was young. Much too young. Yesterday there was a memorial on the beach in Kailua. It was a blustery and beautiful day. Canoes paddled out the ashes. They were trailed by surfers and paddleboarders. One of the boats huli-ed on the way out and the double hull that took the ashes swamped on the way in. But they all made it. I saw many other former co-workers who had left the organization or retired. That is what always happens though. And you say those things, about why it is you only see each other in these types of circumstances. There is no good answer to that question.

After this, I set about the usual Saturday business. Going to Costco. Picking my son up from tutoring. Doing a little cooking. But I could feel the morning sticking to me. Hovering over me. Coloring my day. How could it not?

We had planned on going to the Korean Festival later in the day. So in the early afternoon we headed down to the grounds of Honolulu Hale. It was crowded. We somehow managed to time our arrival with the beginning of the kim-chee eating contest. It was difficult to see what was going on but I can say that it was not a small amount of kim-chee that had to be eaten. And a smallish woman from Waipahu seemed to win over a burly guy from Texas. Go figure.

We walked around and my son ate this weird snow ice thing (which I do not believe is Korean in any way). We went back by the stage because some dancing was about to begin. The first group was four girls and it seemed that they were replicating the dances to certain Korean pop (K-Pop) songs. They were followed by a group of six dancers doing the same thing. Replicating these K-Pop moves. But they were so enthusiastic. The crowd went crazy for them. They just looked like they were having so much fun. It was so great to watch them. And it just made me really happy.

And below is a link to one of the songs that they danced to. My significant other told me that this is a thing, doing the video dances. I am certain that I could find how to do this dance in a tutorial online. There is something just joyfully appealing to me about the entire thing. I loved it so much that we listened to the song in the car on the drive home and I have been listening to BTS since we got home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ujQOR2DMFM

 And it reminded me that you just have to make sure that you are doing what makes you happy. And if performing K-Pop dance routines is what does it, then I say yes. Going to church, specifically to hear Pastor Moki’s sermons makes me happy, so I did that yesterday and afterwards I drank some beer because drinking beer makes me happy. Early this evening we went over to a local bar to see a former executive in my organization singing and playing guitar. He is clearly enjoying retirement and watching him was a great end to a pretty good weekend. It just made me smile. And, nowadays, that seems to be a really good goal, if you ask me.

 

 

 

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