Thursday, August 22, 2013

For Madame C.

Every now and again my good fortune dawns on me in the midst of the confusing and seemingly endless shyte that life can roll down on all of us.  I am always thankful for my family; my wife and children.  They are a constant source of whatever it is that makes life worth living and dreams possible.  Although anyone who's been there knows how a family can also be a source of both the sublime and the ridiculous, I'd be nowhere without them, drifting along to who knows what or why, needing badly to be saved from myself.   

What I mean here is that every now and again I get to spend time with someone from outside the family who lights me up, who reminds me from a different perspective that wonderful things happen in this world, who by spending time with me makes me feel as though I've been handed the kind of prize that a lot of people never will get.  I just recently felt all of this while too briefly visiting with that someone who does all those things.

Having this experience caused me to pause and reset my views on local (at least) humanity.  Lately, life has been difficult and I have found myself increasingly interested in the overall absence of other humans, i.e. "I'm tired and everyone should just leave me the hell alone!"  That feeling really goes against my nature, but lately, in the words of Raymond Chandler, my brain feels like a bucket of wet sand.

I'm so freakin' tired all the time.  I never get enough sleep.  It's so easy for people to say, "Well, just go to bed earlier."  Uh huh.  That I would, if I could.  Though I try every night, cosmically strong forces are powerfully arrayed against that effort.  As a direct result, I've found it increasingly difficult since returning from Hawaii to deal with other people's concerns, especially when they expect me to solve their issues.  That's a bad thing because that's what the Great Public University pays me to do.  My job is to fix things for grad students, and faculty, and my fellow staff (who undoubtedly have their times of feeling exactly as I do) who find themselves in a jam.  It's not a good sign when your overriding ethic starts turning from "How can I help you?" to, at least mentally, "What the fuck do you want now?"

It's getting to be that way at home.  Not good!  Kids need the opposite of that, always, but man....

Yes, so, something needs to be done.  Well, this person recently came to town and we visited for a while, talking about everything and nothing as very old and very close friends will do.  This visit, completely unintended on her part perhaps, resulted in some greater force grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me up as if to say, "See, you silly little man?  See who comes your way?  Wonderful things happen to you!  It's a great world, and a grand life.  Snap out of your useless misanthropic funk and be happy.  No more croaking!"

I can't say that everything that's happened since last week has been all that wonderful.  In fact problems remain that will take a long, long time to iron out.  Still, at the very least I've been reminded that those existential brutalities are not all there are to life, and in understanding that anew I can deal with them instead of the other way around.  Life ain't so bad, after all.  There's music there somewhere, and now I think I can hear it again.

Thank you, Madame C.      

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mother Ocean

Just back on the mainland from a brief sojourn on the island of Oahu.  I was pleasantly surprised.  This was my third visit.  The last two times I was there I saw distinctly that the famous aloha spirit was either dormant or extinct. Being a haole I generally got no play from Hawaiians on Kauai and Oahu.  They were more than happy to speak with my Japanese-American wife, all I got was resentful glares.  While I think I understand why, it was naturally not a lot of fun.

I must give credit where it's due though, and say that this time there was a laid back friendliness that reminded me strongly of the people on Mo'orea in French Polynesia, where everyone had that attitude. We drove from the airport out to the house we inhabited for a week between Kualoa Regional Park the town of Kaaawa on the Windward Shore and along the way there were a couple of moments where I waited for another driver to proceed in traffic and received a shaka in return.  Getting that friendly, courteous feedback made it easier to relax and give it back.  It didn't only happen in cars.  I encountered this in person as well and never got the glare.  It's almost as though someone spread the word about what happened last time.  Or, maybe people are just feeling better about life out there.  Who knows?  All I can say is that the Hawaiians lived up to their rep' this time out. 

The trip was not really intended to be all that relaxing because our two children, 10 and 6 years old, just ain't into the concept of relaxing.  We knew we'd be goin' goin' goin' much of the time, and we were when my wife's phone and son's iPod would give out.

Yes, I know, I should've banned the use of the iPod anywhere but on the plane over, but I'm weak and I didn't feel like fighting.  I needed to reeeeeeelax.  The one place I truly did relax was in the gentle surf of Kahana Bay.  Just north of the town of Kaaawa lies Kahana Bay Beach Park.  It must've been about a mile and a half of curving beach; soft white sand ringed with coconut palms and other bits of jungly verdure.  The kids saw this and charged straight into the surf.  My wife walked straight in.  I stood and stared at it for a minute, struck by the fact that around the whole huge beach were maybe a dozen other people.  It was a classically beautiful tropical seashore day.  There were intermittent, short sharp showers, a nice breeze, and a warm ocean.  Ah yes!  I wandered in, took a look to make sure the kids were good, then fell face first into the salty delight.

There were hilarious attempts at body surfing, great dramas played out from the cranking imagination of our children, and a lot of staring up at the green mountains, sandy beach and slightly cloudy sky from somewhere beyond the tiny surf. 

Sand flew through the air as holes were dug and castles built on the empty beach.  Thank you park people for the showers in the picnic area.

Huge amounts of Uncle Bobo's shave ice were consumed after each visit.  If you are ever out on the Windward Shore of Oahu, go there.  Very nice people, great food.