Friday, June 29, 2007

Did you think I was "make"?

Ho, Brah,
I no post so long, you tink I was “make”?
No, Sistah, Braddah, I stay live. Still teach Pearl City High School, where I goin’get one education. I may learn to swear like a local, but never with such panache. I told a student this morning that it was too early for the F-word. Anyone who swears or drinks before noon must be addicted to something. Actually, I don’t speak pidgin well at all, but I like to play at it. My students laugh when I try, but, still, I try. If can, can. If no can, no can.

I have been lying in bed tonight, with thoughts pouring through my mind, like grain through a hopper. Some of them seemed very profound, but once I turned the computer on, they disappeared into questions. Recently life has been a series of “yes, it’s worth it,” and “no, it’s not.” There is an ocean between me and those people that I love, I cannot seem to get my man on this side of it, and my best little friend left yesterday, on his way to North Carolina, an ocean and a continent away. He said, "I'll never see you again." I laughed and pretended he was coming back, 6 feet tall, and I was a crippled, old lady. "Noah," I cackled, "Do you want to boogie board with me?" He gave me his Clubhouse Membership card so I won’t forget him. It wasn’t necessary. I would have remembered him forever without it.

We are currently working on short story fictions in my summer school class. I use whatever pops into my head to try to teach them to use theirs. To demonstrate the difference between a “flat” character and a “round” character, I drew, rather sloppily, the yen and the yang sign on the board. They were familiar with it, of course. I explained that this demonstrated a “round” character, because it had both light and dark, but if you remove one side, the symbol would fall flat; it would be one-sided. One thought that was plaguing my sleep is that I was born to be a round character. My yen has not overcome my yang, or my yang my yen. There was a flat point in my life, a time when I clung to the old ways and thought familiar thoughts. I wanted approval from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all rolled up into one living person, my father. But I could never be “flat” enough. My destiny was spherical in nature. Unfortunately, roundness is not really appreciated. How long can you keep a jawbreaker in your mouth? It cannot be done. I have never met a jawbreaker that died a natural dissolution. They are, without exception, either bitten or spewed.

I can accept this fate, but I need to warn the other round people. Roll away, quickly! If you’re going to be bitten or spewed, at least find a warm place in the sun to meet your fate.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Boni Boomer

To those of you who think I am not writing, you can rest assured that I am. But I have been so busy I have not had time to edit or revise the work I'm doing. The following was written after Rebekah, Donald, and I visited an ancient temple site high above the North Shore. It is just my way of questioning what happens when cultures meet and the mores and norms of the indigenous people are drastically altered. When haoles came to Hawaii they brought Christianity, they overthrew a ruling monarch, and they almost decimated the Hawaiian population with disease. Those of us that are Christians can't help but feel that the advent of Christianity was a godsend to the Hawiaan people. But it must have seemed to the Hawaiians that the new God was far more exacting, than their old gods, even taking human sacrifice into consideration.

When the Temples are Abandoned

When the temples are abandoned,
Who knows what unthinkable thing will arise.
When the gods cannot bring terror to our comfort,
Or comfort to our terror,
The priests will wander, without purpose.

When the oracles are silent,
Will we know to rise with the sun,
To sleep with the moon?
If every day brings a feast,
Who will celebrate the holy days?

When the gods of our fathers are just a memory,
Pray that the new God loves peace,
That He will not devour our children,
Will not take our voice or our dance.
Pray that our home will not be desecrated by strangers.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I am a writer!

August 7, 2005

For many years my husband has been nudging, encouraging me to write, and I have been ignoring him, attributing my neglect of my muse to laziness. It takes too much time to sort through all the hodgepodge of my limited vocabulary to come up with something valuable, something smart to say. I consider myself a writer. I love to write and I think I have some talent for it, yet I write very sporadically. What's up with that? I have been blessed, or cursed, with an ear for the siren's song, and I have been lashing myself to the mast and ignoring it. If you know anything about my work schedule you would know I am not lazy. Unfocused, yes. But not lazy. So what keeps me from my calling? What makes my sword rest so long in my hand? I have known the reason for a very long time, but today I am coming out of the closet.

What binds me to the mast is pure, stark fear. I'm afraid that if I release the muse I will not be able to stop it. It will start with a small tremor that shakes lose a very precarious foundation, dislodging what I believe about the past, what I hope for the future, disturbing the deep waters, causing ripples that grow into a tsunami of words that hurt and destroy. Since I was a child I have feared that the words I had buried in my heart had too much power, like a hydroelectric dam that creates energy but poses an enormous risk to those that live downstream. What if my stories started an avalanche and my mother, my father, my family, or one small soul I don't even know suffered as a result.

This is a fear I will have to conquer, because I am coming to the realization that if I don't say it, it won't get said. No one else has my unique perspective on the world. There is not another person living who has lived inside my head for fifty years, no one else has my particular brand of knowledge. If I go to my grave without sharing my story, this crazy patchwork quilt of a world will be missing my exclusive literary hue. So I am going to write, my love. It may be painful at times because I have determined not to avoid the light or the dark side of things. If I have questions, I will ask them. I will no longer pretend for the sake of faith that they don't exist. I will not be afraid of the truth, or if I am afraid, I will face it square on. “Imua” is a Hawaiian word that means to go forward, and I have adopted it as my mantra, my battle cry. I will go forward when tears blur the words, when joy takes control and wants me to dance instead of write, and even when life seems futile and pointless, I will shout “Imua!” and move on and write about that movement. This is my Ebenezer stone to mark my point of no return. I am a writer. For better or for worse. You asked for it, honey.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sharing some musings

Sunday, June 5, 2005

You, dear reader, came here to read about whaat is going on with my life in Hawaii, but instead, I am about to share with you what is going on in my mind, in my thought life. You are about to become my unsuspecting forum, my platform for self expression. I hope you enjoy these, but if not, I hope they make you think.

This poem was written to express the wonder and the terror of the sea, in light of the recent tsunami that devasted parts of Asia. Living in Ewa Beach, where the heart of the worldwide tsunami warning system is located, there should be a measure of comfort that we, at least, would be saved from a major tsunami. However, we live on the tidal plains, and with the housing glut here, the only access road out of the plains, Fort Weaver Road, is choked with traffic every day. In the event of an evacuation, the road would be impassable. Unless we can outrun a tsunami, or leave on our bikes, we would become a casualty. Here it is.


The Ocean does not know your name.
Lapping gently at your feet,
Weaving intricate foam tapestries,
Singing to the water within you,
It beckons you as if it were your friend.

Its throws the overflow from its bounty on the shore,
But hides the very best in its belly
Enticing you to leave the safety of the shore,
And entrust yourself and your tiny boat to its mercy.

But, the Ocean does not know your name,
Does not know where or with whom you sleep,
Or who is your first-born child,
Does not care that his lungs are not amphibious.

The Ocean imitates the eternal,
Unfazed by the gut-wrenching cries of humanity,
It clears the slate and starts again with nothing,
Leaving mortals to sort through the anguish and deprivation.

The Ocean does not know your name,
Nor any name of the millions of souls it has swallowed,
It is life-giving, life-taking, unfathomable,
And you, mere mortal, do not know its name.

This poem was written to honor my mother on Mothers Day and to confess to my childish ignorance of all that she sacrificed for her children. Some of you may have already read this because I emailed it to my wonderful husband and he printed it out and took it to my mother in time to make her day special, but here it is again My mother, next week, will leave the comfort of her home, hook herself up to an airplane's oxygen supply, and travel across the ocean to see me. My mother is a pioneer.


My childish eyes never saw
That you were working miracles every day.
Like the loaves and fishes,
A pound of hamburger fed the multitude,
Your crowded, threadbare home became a castle
With the simple magic of fresh bread baking.
And I, fed on heavenly manna everyday,
Longed for the leeks and onions I had never known.

Because miracles were commonplace,
I was not amazed to see
A bolt of clearance-table cloth transformed,
Into eight beautiful dresses.
Or new pajamas that appeared before my slumber party.
I did not see the stitches and the sleepless nights
That went into my many-colored coat.
I longed for the golden cloth of Egypt.

I never thought to wonder about the source.
Everything I needed just appeared and I,
Consumed with childhood,
Never knew the high price you paid for your miracles.
With only two hands at your service,
You deprived yourself to supply our needs,
Depleted your health so we would thrive.

Yet you still had strength to demonstrate
That all people possessed the breath of God,
That no situation could overcome faith and hard work,
That understanding extinguishes the fire of anger,
That loving God and humanity is our highest calling.
You did not try to be my friend, only my Mother.
You sacrificed your popularity to save,
This ungrateful child from wandering,
And helped me cross over into Canaan.

This poem was written to commemorate all the people who give of themselves, literally, when they donate all or part of an organ to someone they love, or sometimes to a total stranger. to save or prolong a life. This particular person is a tall, beautiful, Samoan woman who donated part of her liver to save her child. She has a large cross-shaped scar on her chest as a constant reminder of what it cost her. This is not a poem I would share with Leilani because the recognition would embarrass her. Her husband wanted her to tell this story at church for Mothers Day, but she chose instead to honor her grandmother, who took early retirement and did all she could to raise Leilani and her brothers. Her grandmothers seeds bore fruit in Leilani. Her name means "Flower of Heaven" and when you meet her you can, indeed, smell the sweet fragrance of heaven.


Sweet flower from heaven,
Your Tutu taught you well
The art of selflessness.
Not content with ordinary sacrifice,
You went a step beyond.

While Christ,
His goal eternal life for all,
Received a cross upon his back.
To lengthen your child's life,
You bore one on your chest.
The greatest love,
Above the laying down of life,
Is living through the agony to give again.
Your scar bears witness to your love.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Finally finding a place in the sun.

April 24, 2005

So, I shall finally make another entry into my blog. I have been very remiss in this effort. I have been feeling somewhat disconnected from this island and needed to fully understand what I was feeling in order to express it. So, here it is. Here is my issue.

In Lahaina I lived on Luakini Street, the historic place of the ancient Hawaiian temples. Here I live on Eha Street, which in English means 4th Street. Lahaina means “Land of the merciless sun,” and was the vacation spot for Hawaiian royalty for generations, while the “Ewa” in “Ewa Beach” simply means “west.” My neighbors in Lahaina were all locals, and I became part of that community, eating, talking story, and attending church with them. My landlady, Margie, who has since passed away, was a Portagee woman with a sharp tongue and a big heart. I better pay my rent on time and never wear my slippers in her house, but she brought me mangoes because she knew I loved them. I could ride my bike to the store and walk downtown. Though I was alone the whole time I lived there, I never felt lonesome. While my neighbors here have been wonderful, helping me unload and even mowing our grass, they are transient, military families, with a very temporary sense of community. The church we attend has a lot of military families so people are coming and going continually. And our house in Ewa Beach is miles from any store or library so before my car got here I was very dependant on my wonderful nieces for everything. I knew it would not be Maui, but I didn't prepare myself for so much military culture or for the isolation of being on a military facility, passing a checkpoint to come home.

In addition to all this, I did not find a job as quickly as I had hoped. My life seemed to revolve around writing and rewriting my resume and cover letters, sending them out, hand delivering them, filling out applications, and reading want ads and online postings religiously. Since my final paycheck from State Farm was the middle of March, I have been living off my sweet “sugar daddy” who is still on the mainland. My husband is one of the most generous people I know and loves to help me out, but being the independent woman that I am, I have a hard time not having an income.

Do I sound unhappy? I am not, really. I still am still very elated to be here. But, adventures can be lonely experiences and, though I thrive on variety, adjusting to change is never easy. I now have a Hawaiian drivers license and my car finally arrived, though it still has Washington plates, so the locals are able to see clearly why I get lost so much. I have finished my substitute teachers training, and my certificate arrived in the mail yesterday.

I interviewed for a job with State Farm in Mililani and was both disappointed and relieved when I didn't get it. But something far better was in store for me. I had been online the night before I heard from State Farm checking out the website for Kamahamaha Schools on Oahu. One of my dreams when I lived on Maui was to return to Washington for my degree and go back to teach at Kamahamaha. This school was set up with a trust fund from King Kamahamaha's great granddaughter, Princess Bernice Pauahi, in the late 1800s for the benefit of Hawaiian students. The trust has grown into a 6 billion dollar trust so the school is now well funded. It is the largest private school system in the United States, with the original school here on Oahu and two other schools on Maui and the Big Island. You can check it out on
To make a long story even longer, I called the staffing agency I had been working with to tell them that I would not be going to work for State Farm, and did they have anything at all. “Well,” said Sarah, my staffing person, “there is a temporary position through June at Kamahamaha High School. Would that be something you would be interested in?” “I might be,” I understated. She submitted my resume for consideration and, because of my background in education; I was chosen over three other people with Hawaiian names. I now officially have my foot in the Kamahamaha door and have been working there for a week now. I am even more impressed with the school system now that I see it from the inside. I plan to apply to substitute teach there in the fall and will work towards a permanent position. Though the commute is an hour of traffic, I am happy to be making it. I also have a job at a local restaurant, so sometimes it is a very, very long day, and my husband will tell you that sometimes I bitch and moan, (Or maybe he won't. He's very gracious about it). But, on the whole, I am blessed beyond belief, and still happy to be here.

Yesterday I spent the day with Tamara and her friend on the beach and today I went hiking and was happy to be tromping through the jungle. I came home tired and bitten by mosquitoes and ready for a new week. It's so nice to have a job so I can have a weekend.

Monday, March 21, 2005

1st Week in a crowded paradise

March 13, 2005

The sun is shining in Seattle on this beautiful Sunday morning. It has been a glorious week, but I have never been able to reconcile the seemingly endless days of overcast gloom with the few, fleeting, days of sunshine. I will never call it home again. I have been emotionally detached from this place since I moved back from Maui. I just flew over the ferries crossing Puget Sound, the Narrows bridge spanning the waterways between Tacoma and Gig Harbor, and the majestic Mount Rainier, named Tahoma, home of the Gods, by Native Americans. It is a green, enchanting place from the air. For most of my life I was connected umbilically to this verdant birthplace. But the cord has long since been cut. I just reset my watch to Hawaiian time.

I left a wonderful man at the airport. He was waving from outside the security check as I walked away. Last night I was overcome with anxiety at the thought of leaving him. My heart was already broken when I left my children and my grandchildren, but the thought of leaving Michael was almost more than I could bear. He assures me that the months until he joins me will pass quickly. I know that it will seem that way once I am on that side of time, but from this prospective it appears eternal.

My flight was smooth. There were so few of us on board that each passenger had three seats to himself or herself. The dividing arms were lifted and we all stretched out for a long nap. Flying into Oahu gives you a clear picture of how isolated these islands are from the rest of the world. For hours you see nothing but ocean, then suddenly, miraculously, land appears, and you get the sense that you might have missed the island altogether if the captain had not been paying close attention.

My sweet nieces, Tamara and Rebecca, welcomed me at the baggage claim with kisses and a beautiful, fragrant lei. They said when they first saw me they thought me to be the embodiment of their mothers and all the aunties that they miss so much. I represented the headwaters of their gene pool, if you will. I felt loved and situated. It is amazing to see these two strong, beautiful women, both of whom I have watched grow from babies to adults, fitting so naturally into this new environment.

They took me to Dukes at Waikiki for lunch, and we ate and talked as we watched the surf rolling into the sand. We walked around the International Market for a while then headed to my new home in Ewa Beach (the “w” has a “v” sound in Hawaiian). Our home is actually in Iroquois Point, a navel housing community. I'm not sure how the Iroquois got representation so far from their indigenous lands, but there it is. It is a large, two-story, four-bedroom unit, attached to another unit exactly like it. I met the neighbors that share a wall with us shortly after I got here. A warm, friendly couple with three delightful, tow-headed children, two boys and a little girl, who informed me she was “two and a half.”

Tamara and Rebecca fell asleep shortly after we got here, so I went exploring on Tamara's bike. I found the beach. I know I'll be okay.

March 14, 2005

I woke this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. Given my Northwestern roots, I naturally assume that means the whole day is going to be wet. Not so. The rain stopped and I explored a little more on Tamara's bike. By the time I got back to my writing the sun was breaking through the clouds, but it is still a little cold and windy, especially for Hawaii.

I met with some obstacles during the day. My Internet provider does not function here, so I was not able to submit my online application to Hawaii Department of Education, as planned. I guess I will have to mail it instead. Then I learned first-hand about Oahu traffic and was late for the meeting I had flown here to attend. Rebecca, who has been my transportation since I got here, was so apologetic. No worries, it was an informational meeting with no new information. It was over very quickly. It was pretty lame. I don't think I will be going the Special Education route. It's not really where I want to be. It just sounded so good over the phone.

March 21, 2005

I am lying in my hammock, on this beautiful Monday morning, listening to the sweet sound of the morning doves and the chatter of the finches. Our neighbor, Will, insisted they are sparrows, and Tamara and I didn't argue. We have some awesome neighbors here. My container got here on Thursday, and immediately we got three offers for help unloading it. I unloaded the first third alone, but my progress was blocked by the wall my son, Matthew, had built to stabilize the load. He did such a solid job that my hammer could not budge it. Lance, our neighbor to the left, poked his head in the container as he was leaving for work, and offered to help when he got home, which he did. A wall built with testosterone needs that same element to rip it down.

I took Friday to get more resumes out there, got the needed recommendation from a principal, then signed up for a substitute teacher class. Unfortunately, the class starting this week was cancelled and the next one doesn't start until April ll. I will need a job before then. Got a recommendation from my former boss in Lahaina for an art gallery in Honolulu. I'm going to visit it early this week.

Saturday morning Tamara and I hit the container again (Rebecca was in Maui for the weekend, visiting her Nina and Padrino). By the time we got to the heavy stuff, we had help from Will and another neighbor, Scott. We spent the rest of the day putting the futon together (only one call to Michael), unpacking boxes, and arranging the house so it looks like a home. Will helped me put my bed together and hang the hammock.

On Sunday after church Tamara and I went to China Town in Honolulu while we waited for Rebecca's plane to come in. We both bought those black cotton Chinese babydoll shoes that were very popular in the 70's. Then we sat in the courtyard and ate delicious Hong Kong dumplings and drank bubble tea. We were in the company of about 20 elderly Chinese gentlemen. No English spoken there. There was a Chinese teashop going out of business near the courtyard. The proprietor was from Taiwan and was selling a nice Taiwanese tea tray, like the one my family in Taiwan used, for only $5. I could not resist. Tamara bought a beautiful jade Buddhist prayer bracelet.

We picked up Rebecca at the airport and she and I came home. Tamara headed out to the North Shore to meet some friends. She wanted me to come with her, but I wasn't feeling well. I told Michael on the phone later, “If someone says 'go to the beach' to me, and I say no, there is something seriously wrong. I am much better today. Rebecca did not get to stay home and enjoy the new surroundings. She and her youth group had already committed to sleeping in cardboard boxes last night, presumably so they would be empathetic enough to go feed the homeless today.

I have been a Hawaiian for a week now. I don't have my Hawaiian driver's license yet, though, and my son, Peter, tells me that I can't be Hawaiian until I have it. I guess I wasn't Hawaiian when I lived in Maui because I didn't have a car.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Moving to Hawaii

March 6, 2005

It is hard to believe that I am finally going. I may not believe it fully until I actually board the plane and take off for Oahu. I am nervous, excited, happy, sad, and assorted variations of all of these feelings. Things have fallen into place so quickly that I have not had time to properly process all this. I am leaving the place of my birth, leaving a beautiful home, my family, the love of my life, and a secure job, for the warmth of the Hawaiian sun and a chance to follow my muse. I am thankful that everyone is encouraging me to do this and a little disappointed that no one is begging me not to leave. I see the plum and cherry trees blooming and Mount Rainier looming on the horizon and I know that these familiar sight will now be a place I visit, but will not call home. I am wondering what homing instinct was planted in my soul when I lived in Maui. What calls me back? Is it the sun, the surf, the Southern Cross in the night sky? Or is the legendary music that plays across the islands like a giant harp? I miss the sound of Pidgin English, miss palm trees and red cotton soil. I miss flowers that can be strung into leis and bougainvillea arbors. I miss the West Maui Mountains more than I miss the tall, snowcapped mountain that mothered me from birth.

March 8, 2005

It is a beautiful Tuesday morning. The sun is just lighting up Commencement Bay, and the giant, empty freighter looks peaceful, content to wait for a load to some other part of the world. I kept watching on Saturday for my container to leave port, bound for Oahu. It must have snuck by while I was sleeping. I had a dream last night that it was lost at sea. If I believed in omens, I would be worried. If I believed in omens I would be even more worried that the jeweled egg our wedding rings are in has fallen apart, crushed by the good intentions of my husband. He picked it up, as carefully as his strong fingers would allow, to check the loose hinge. When it crumbled in his hands he roared like a wounded lion. He was still grieving for his much loved home. It was too much to lose this icon of his love. I am so relieved that his temporary home while he waits to move with me has such an impressive view. I am joining him in Fremont for lunch today. It is a testimony to his unselfish nature that he wants to take me to sushi, not his favorite, but mine.

There is so much to do this week. So many people that I want to see and hug goodbye. I spent the evening with Patty and Dave last night. Their grief for Rocky seems to have become more manageable, still raw, but not such a gapping wound. I wonder if that process of acceptance brings a fresh brand of grief. It was hard to say goodbye. I tried to convince Dave that a trip to Oahu to see me should not be discounted. I don't think he was buying it.

March 10, 2005

I took my baby girl out for her 27th birthday lunch today. She wanted Indian food, so we went to Gateway to India, the best Indian restaurant in the Northwest, as far as Michael and I are concerned. We had a special time, talking, eating, and just a little bit of crying when I thanked God for the special gift of my daughter. We went shopping for jeans after lunch and we bought matching, stripped jeans, me size 10 and she size 12. We have were not always so close in size or spirit. I'm so proud of the woman she has become.

This evening Michael and I went out to the Parkway for beer and cider with Chris, my car pool buddy, and his sister, Sara, and her husband, Tang. I am going to miss Chris, who is going to Georgia, the country, with the Peace Corp. 

March 12, 2005

It is 4:43 am, the day before I embark on my life journey. I am not ashamed to say that I am scared about this move. I liken this point in my life to swinging from one trapeze to another. There has to be a point where you let go of one and grab the next. This is it, and it is hard to sleep through that kind of transition.

I spent the day yesterday at my mother's, fixing her breakfast and coaxing her to take a short walk. It is difficult sometime to have a long conversation with her. She is very cognizant, but she loses her train of thought very easily, even more so than I. She is still an amazing woman. God grant that I can someday be half her equal.

My sweet son, Peter, flew in from Boise to see me off tomorrow. I sometimes wonder how my children turned out so exceptional with such a flighty mother. The one thing I did teach them, more by words sometimes than example, was the power of choice. They have all made mostly good choices in life. We met Edward and Rebecca for dinner at Olive Garden. When we hugged goodbye I promised them quality time in Oahu when they come to visit me.

Matthew, Peter, and I are all going down to Vancouver to visit Gigi this morning. She has bladder cancer. This may be our last chance to see her. She has been a great blessing in our lives, and I have postponed making this trip too long. I may have postponed it again because there is so much for me to do still, but my persistent husband, recognizing how important this will be for me in the long run, insisted to the point of irritation. I will be grateful to him for that gift for a long time.