Sunday, December 27, 2009

Shaking Off Normal

What is NORMAL?

I suppose NORMAL is different for everybody. If I looked at my immediate family, NORMAL would mean marriage (the LDS way), children soon after, and then husband and wife fall into a cycle of work at a 9 to 5 to care for the children. Before you know it, life has passed by. Growing up with my cultural heritage and with my religious foundation, NORMAL (according to what I just described) would be what was waiting for me after high school.

But... NORMAL is so far from the life I'm leading now. It takes a bit of courage to not do the NORMAL thing especially if that is what you're conditioned to do. If I had to, I'd know how to do NORMAL. If NORMAL is where life would lead me, I could do NORMAL. But the Universe, the Creator, my God does not see NORMAL for me and I'm quite alright with that.

I suppose I've always had dreams of traveling the world, working for the Peace Corps, visiting Africa, walking the Great Wall of China, serving my people in Samoa, hiking the Outback, studying at an ashram in India, learning Buddhism and Zen at the feet of a great teacher, sleeping in an Igloo in the Eskimo tradition. There are just so many things on my "bucket list" that NORMAL will just have to wait. Or maybe that's just the story I tell myself, that NORMAL is not for me because NORMAL seemed to have stopped after the "marriage" thing because my womb has been barren; unable to conceive. **shrugs** I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my life except I know that NORMAL is just not for me.

It does take a great deal of courage for me to live this life. My last job was so dead-end and so NORMAL that it was sucking the very life out of me. Life was meant to be lived and experienced rather than spent behind a desk. I suppose I have exercised some influence over the college students that have fallen under my stewardship. That has the power to ripple forward, hopefully in a positive manner. I don't regret that portion of it. I actually have a special place in my heart for the few guys and gals that I worked with. Leaving that to come here could possibly be a good thing. We'll see how it all pans out in 2010.

I'm in school now. I can't believe I have successfully been able to finish off one semester. 12 credit hours under my belt in NO TIME. Another 3 will be done by tomorrow. Pretty good for a girl that absolutely HATED the idea of college. These classes are going by so quickly, some so tediously, yet I'm moving right along. I have to get this Bachelors degree before I even think about applying for the Peace Corps. Husband will be nearly done with his Masters program soon and has already applied to a PhD program and the TeachAmerica program.

With the things we've already planned out, I know I'm not going to be in Alabama forever. I'm so grateful for that! Alabama is sucking the life out of me too. Our exit date for Alabama will be by next Fall. I'm so glad! I really do hate this place and I'm trying really hard to like it. I am just not content being here. I feel thoroughly unfulfilled by life here in Alabama and I always reflect back to the beauty I left in Hawai'i and the busy-ness of family.

Though my in-laws are excellent people, they are somewhat recluse and have very little interaction with other families. I'm used to large family gatherings (with close friends and "orphan families") every weekend and especially during the holidays. The complete opposite is true here. No one comes around. The family doesn't go anywhere and I just rather be in the islands, playing Pictionary til our parents tell us we're too loud (even though we're grown now). I'd rather be around all of that, in the most beautiful tropical, breezy paradise than here, cooped up in a house that circulates the same air over and over again. My parents, my family are more adventurous. Their minds are so wide open. I miss that.

I miss Hawai'i.

But anyway, as I shake off NORMAL, I know that I will find the path that will best serve the Creator. When I find it, it will open up in front of me without much effort and I will step right into it with ease and live with NO REGRETS!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ladies Night: Sex & the City

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) has to be one of the best characters, ever, in the history of chic flicks.

This post is for those who are not fans of the series or movie because I know that you obviously haven't seen either.

The series is based loosely on a book by Candace Bushnell, coupled with a column she wrote for The New York Observer. She says of the character, Carrie Bradshaw, "she's my alter ego". Four powerful, strong, career women are best friends in New York City. The series follows their lives, seperately, and together. They cover all kinds of issues in a comedic, over-the-top yet real-life way. I first started watching it religiously in 2003, when my ex-husband dumped me. Everytime I tuned in, I felt like I was sitting in on a really good conversation with my best girlfriends. In fact, many shows were the jumpoff for real-life conversations. Female fantasies about love and romance; relationship problems; and the issues that continually come up in love, marriage, and true friendship.

The series follows all four women and their problems with LOVE, romance, and sex. It is the funniest, real-est show about friends. The writers for the show are outstanding! The locale is fun and exciting. Beautiful, even. The fashion is fabulous. I know I had dreams about wearing stiletto Manolo Blahniks -- if only it were made in Polynesian-Feet sizes with the Payless price. The drama and comedy of it all still warms me. I think it's because I feel like they're my real friends that I've experienced all of their heartaches and happiness with. Isn't that what bonds us to our friends in real life? That we're able to laugh and cry without being judged for our imperfections?

The movie picks up where the series left off. Carrie and Bigg. I don't remember what season Bigg enters the series but he becomes the man that Carrie always wants to run back to. Even through all her relationships, including one that relocates her to Paris, the only man she ever fantasizes about is the one she can't have. Bigg. He is a self-professed BACHELOR and wants to stay that way forever.

The final episode of the final season places Carrie in Paris with a love interest that she thinks is "the one". The show is so cleverly written that we, the audience, have a huge love-hate relationship with Bigg right along with Carrie. So as we see Carrie leave New York for Paris with her new man, we know that she is still ever in love with Bigg and yet we sympathize with her and want her to move on because Bigg is just NOT READY to commit. Don't we see that in our best girlfriends lives? Maybe even in our own? In the closing scenes of the final episode, Bigg is in Paris searching for Carrie, to profess his love. As all good drama goes, they always seem to miss each other. Finally, in the end, they meet on the streets of Paris and Carrie realizes that she was made for Bigg and he for her. They return to New York and that closes out the series.

The movie picks up from there and Carrie and Bigg are set to finally get married. They go through the motions of planning a huge wedding complete with all the festivities and pomp of high society. They're scheduled to wed at in a gorgeous library. The gown, flawless. Everything is perfect. Right before the ceremony is to start, Bigg decides that he can't go through with it. All serious Sex & the City fans know that it had to be that way. Bigg would not be true to character if he actually went through with the BIG wedding.

The movie follows her as she processes the grief. Her best friends accompany her to the honeymoon. Best friends do that for each other. In this portion of the movie, I'm in tears and thinking about my closest friends that pulled me through the grief of my divorce. That's what I equate the hurt that Carrie was experiencing with. Even though all my conversations in that dark period of my life led to tears, they still hung with me and helped me through it. I bless their presence in my life. My mom was such a blessing too. What can a person do after being gilted? It's not like Carrie wanted to ever speak to him again and yet she did want to speak to him, to try and make sense of the senseless. The same thing happened to me after the ex and I finally signed divorce papers. I desperately wanted to speak to him but didn't want to, at the same time! Mad, sad, hurt... all of it!

There are several portions in the movie that brought me to tears. Happy tears and sad tears. The movie is so emotional and multi-faceted, like a woman is. In one scene, Carrie rhetorically asks, "When will I ever laugh again?" Miranda (the redhead) answers, "When something is REALLLLY funny." The comic relief that finally breaks Carrie from her depression is so simple, yet so funny. It's a moment that can only be shared amongst true friends.

This movie has become my new, favorite chic flick. I usually have a desire to pull it out while I'm PMS'ing when I'm just looking for a reason to cry and feel melancholy. The movie that used to do that for me is called, A Mirror Has Two Faces. Another great chic flick. Get that one! Anyway, I could run down the whole movie for you but that would be a spoiler. Especially if you're going to watch it. It is Rated R for strong, sexual content. So if that's not your thing, get the edited version or wait til it comes out on TBS or something. I'm sure it will have all the necessary elements.

Ultimately, the movie reminds me of my best friends and how they've affected me. How they've supported me through the good, the bad, and the very ugly. It reminds me of love and romance and the issues that affect our relationships.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Of Mangos and Belly Aches

Seated beneath a mango tree on a bench built by my uncle is the first time I recall ever being sick to my stomach. Above me the mango tree’s large limbs branched out and extended high into the air. Many weeks before, the leaves were several shades of bright pinks with tiny blossoms. In a relatively dry season, the flowers would result in mangos so numerous that the branches would droop to the earth, heavy with fruit. If the spring and summer were particularly wet, there would be no fruit to enjoy, just a cool, shady spot to rest from the humidity of a Hawaiian summer. That summer, the first time I recall every being sick to my stomach, the mango tree was heavy with fruit. It was the summer that I turned six.

The mango tree sat at the edge of one of my grandmothers many gardens. Its large trunk supported the foliage that sat atop it and shook when the trade winds blew in from off the Pacific Ocean. Surrounding the mango tree were several different types of tropical plants and flowers and different fruit trees. Red ginger marked the border on the mauka end of the garden, along with Birds of Paradise and other types of ginger. Banana trees bordered the makai end. At the opposite border, across the mango tree, were several Tahitian Gardenia bushes. Their distinct, white flowers were a stark contrast to the vibrant shades of green upon its leaves. The delicate flowers are the size of the palm of my hand and its scent is so intoxicating.

In the center of the garden were more tropical flowers. The vision of plumeria trees laden with yellow and pink hues of blossoms clustered together was always a site to behold. It’s blossoming marked the beginning of summer. The fragrance, so captivating, always took my breath away. There were also rows and rows of ‘ilima plants. The ‘ilima flower is a shade of yellow-orange and is paper-thin and very delicate. At its fullest height, the shrub may reach four feet. Because it required hundreds of flowers to string together one lei, the ‘ilima lei even today, is a prized gift.

Summer break was often spent at “Gramma’s” house. She lived thirty minutes from where we lived. My father would drop off my brother and I at Gramma’s, early in the morning, as he made his way to work. It was almost always dark when we arrived. We would hurry in and sleep until the suns rays gently woke us. Before we could eat breakfast, my cousins that lived next door to Gramma would pick us up and we would head to the gardens on the property. Our main chore for the day was to pick all the flowers from the trees so that Aunty Iwa , my father’s sister, could string lei’s to be sold at the local florist. The older cousins picked the delicate ‘ilima and the flowers at the tops of the plumeria tree, while I was relegated to picking the good plumeria’s that had fallen to the ground. By 7 a.m. the flowers were picked, washed, and prepared for Aunty Iwa. We’d cover her living room floor with old newspapers and separate the flowers by type and color. By 9 a.m. Aunty Iwa would have several lei’s ready for market. More cousins would show up by mid-morning. Gramma and Aunty Iwa were the babysitters for all of us. I had not known then how difficult it must have been to keep eleven of us busy and fed everyday, all throughout the summer.

**Aunty Iwa and I in one of the gardens**

The typical Hawaiian summer was almost always full of blue skies, puffy white clouds, and moist, humid air. Sometimes the humidity was so heavy, so thick, that relief could only be found in the ocean. On those days, we’d walk to the beach with my Gramma leading the pack and the older cousins at the back, making sure that no one would get lost along the way. Rainy days we’d spend playing board games in the carport or playing hopscotch. We rarely ever spent any time in front of the television. There always seemed to be more important things to do like playing hide and seek in the gardens or touch football in Gramma’s large, dirt and gravel driveway. Sometimes my older girl cousins would take me to play school or bank or store. I was always stuck being the student or the customer, never the teacher, teller, or cashier. I remember once, we set up chairs to look like an airplane and we pretended we were stewardesses.
**Me, running down gramma's dirt and gravel driveway**

On the sunniest days, when all you could see for miles was the blue sky, and there was no respite from the blazing sun, we’d climb the giant mango tree to keep cool. The gentle breeze drowned out the sound of the mynah birds squawking. I imagine they were complaining about the humidity. On one particular day, the first time I ever felt sick to my stomach, I climbed midway up the tree. From my vantage point, I peeked into the adjacent garden and could see the large guava tree. Along the fence behind the guava tree were several passion fruit vines and along side the fence was a row of papaya trees. The mango tree was heavy with fruit that season and the limbs were beginning to bow. Certainly we didn’t want the limbs to break so it was necessary for us to relieve the tree of some of its fruit, even though they were green and unripe. I began picking the largest of the mangos and threw them to the ground. Whoever was on the ground collected the mangos and stowed them in buckets. By the end of the day, the mangos would be peeled, sliced, pickled, jarred then given away to the neighbors. There was always extra for the neighbors and any of Gramma’s visitors.

That day, my cousin had brought along a glass jar full of a dark liquid. He sat on the bench beneath the tree, pulled out his pocketknife and began paring the green mango. I watched him, from where I was perched in the mango tree, open the glass jar and slice the green mango into it. My other cousins gathered around him and watched him pare and slice two more mangos. He replaced the lid and they all took turns shaking the jar. After everyone had a turn, they opened the jar and began to eat the mango. It looked so delicious and refreshing and as my cousins ate, they made these noises indicating how much they were enjoying it. I climbed down and had my first taste of shoyu-mango. The dark liquid was made of soy sauce and brown sugar. It was so scrumptious. I imagine that the combination of salt, sweet, and the tartness of the unripe mango pleased every taste bud on my tongue. Also, the obvious delight on everyone’s face added to my enjoyment. When the mango in the jar had run out, my cousin pared and sliced more as we ate and repeated the process until not a drop of sauce was left in the jar.

As soon as the sauce was gone, the excitement of the new experience wore off, and my six-year old belly was left with the biggest ache I had ever known. I don’t remember how long it ached but I do remember that wonderful taste. If there had been more sauce, I’d have drank it up like a tall, glass of water. My brother and my cousins continued with the chores associated with pickling the mangos and I was left, seated on a bench built by my uncle, under a mango tree having the time of my life.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Quick Update

Christmas Update

The Christmas rush is coming to a close for me. All the packages have been sent off and the Christmas cards are in the mail. I truly do enjoy this time of the year as it allows me to reconnect with dear friends that I rarely speak to throughout the year. I was able to send off two packages off to Iraq.

One for my dear cousin. I sent them baked goods. I hope it keeps until they're able to indulge. It didn't come out as good as I had hoped. Now I know not to do it in bulk. Something was off about the recipe I had used.

I also sent off a nice size package to my family in Hawai'i. The only thing missing in Hawai'i will be me and the husband. This is the second year in a row that I'm not there. **heavy sigh** I'm just glad that I was able to get a gift for everyone. The little ones got two. The teenager's got $20 each. When I give money, this is how I usually do it. In case you wanted to try something creative next time you give money.

Relationship Update

I haven't worked for nearly four months now. Husband and I have been living off of savings. The Creator has truly blessed us to allow us to just "be". Through all the drama of the past couple of months with the big move from paradise to Alabama, USA, the husband and I have finally come up with a common goal to work towards. I'm grateful that we have placed the drama aside! It really was taking a toll on our marriage. We've discussed splitting on many occasions. Finding something to work towards, together, has made all the difference. Also, our commitment to the marriage coupled with our deep belief in a loving Heavenly Father, has pulled us through. We are FINALLY on the same proverbial page.

Homesick Update

I ache for Hawai'i and for my family on a daily basis, yet I know there is a master plan for me. Being away from Hawai'i is part of that plan. God-willing, when I return to the islands of my birth, I will be more able to help lift my people. The other day, I skyped with my nieces and nephew. As soon as the video was up and running on both sides, I could see my oldest niece crying. She is as tender-hearted and sensitive as I am. The second niece and my nephew were making funny faces and singing to me. It was so great to see them yet it aches my heart to be so far from them and not be able to wrap my arms around them and give big hugs and kisses. I am so amazed at the capacity of love I have for them. They are, indeed, what allows me to believe in the future... they allow me to believe that unconditional love is totally possible. There is nothing they could do to make me love them any less.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Birthday Ramblings

Today was husband's birthday. All he wanted was his favorite foods for dinner. (Men are so simple)


Stuffed Salmon
Smoked Ham with a Maple Glaze (this was for the in-laws)
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Smothered Cabbage

My sister-in-law also made some Salmon Croquettes. She's pregnant and had a specific craving for it.

My pride and joy, however, was the birthday cake. I made a three-layer chocolate cake. I made a chocolate ganache for the layers and a chocolate butter cream frosting for the outside. It was so scrumptious and unbelievably simple. I sniped the recipe from the Food Network's Barefoot Contessa.

I really should have taken pictures of everything but it all looked so good that I couldn't get the camera fast enough. The salmon was extremely tender and so very delicious. But I just can't stop thinking about that cake though. Yumm! It was so moist and rich. I should make this kind of decadence for a living. Serious!

I was over at one of my favorite blog's, The Brown Blogger, and he mentioned toward the end of his The Weight post how he and the wifey were 1099 workers. As I understand it, 1099 workers do contract work. For instance, (true story), say you find out that McDonald's is in need of a grounds maintenance person. You gladly submit a proposal detailing the services you can provide and how much it will cost. At the point of acceptance, McDonald's (in this case, the franchise owner) hires you on but not as an employee of McDonald's but as a contracted worker. Thus, you are paid according to agreement. McDonald's is not required to do any government withholding. BTW: 1099 references the document that replaces a normal W-2 from an employer. Yes, this example is a true story. I did the paperwork for my father to gain a contract at the local McDonald's where he lives. He did their grounds maintenance for a few years. I'm so glad he gave it up.

So anyway, I mention that only to say that I've been interested in doing this kind of work for quite some time. Not the ground maintenance part, even though it has crossed my mind, but the 1099/ contract work deal! In the last four years or so, I have had a great desire to "own my time" so to speak. XYZ Corp could hire me to cater their party. (I am kind of a whiz in the kitchen.) We do a contract detailing the services that will be rendered and what I will get in exchange. I would be open to bartering for services because I don't think I'd have to pay a tax on that. I wonder?! Hmmm... Anyway -- if everything is agreeable we have a deal. I cater the party, they pay, and that's it! No 9-5 to enslave me. If I wanted to take a month off to go home to Hawai'i, I could by simply blacking out my calender. If I wanted to, I could take jobs in Hawai'i. The possibilities are endless.

The really great part about me revisiting the idea of being a 1099 worker is that my husband sees the light! His lack of support in previous years discouraged me from pursuing it... but now, he's finally on board, and has a desire to try it out. I'm so stoked. I'll definitely keep you posted!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

One of Them : Part I

When I was younger, I never thought I'd be 'ONE OF THEM'. Yet I find myself steadily more comfortable being 'ONE OF THEM'.

ONE OF THEM (in the context of this post) equals what most people call conspiracy theorists. However, I don't think of myself as a theorist because that would imply that there is no evidence to support the conspiracy. And there are many conspiracies in the world today, as there were in the politics of long ago. It would be foolish to think that all the governments of the world are squeaky clean, especially when a solid standard of ethical behavior is absent.

I have an uncle (not a biological uncle but a "calabash" uncle, as we call it in Hawai'i), who has been speaking about government intrigue for years. He is always the first person I think of when someone says "conspiracy theorist". As a teenager, the discussions my uncle would have with my parents would become almost uncomfortable. He'd talk about inflation, war, fiat currency, indoctrination, Rockefeller's, Rothschild's, etc. and all of it bucked the information I had received in the public school curriculum.

In my Hau'ula Elementary education, I learned to sing American patriotic songs and to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth (the flag), along with the math and the reading. A good portion of my time was spent learning about U.S. history that illustrated them in a very positive light. To hear something other than that, like how my uncle vehemently opposed U.S. policy, was downright BLASPHEMY. **laughing** At least it was back then. Many years later, here I am... ONE OF THEM. ONE OF THEM like my uncle, a conspiracy theorist/"conspir-ist".

I suppose my journey began when I heard an hour long synopsis of The Creature From Jekyll Island, presented by its author G. Edward Griffin. I read the book, immediately thereafter. I was amazed then, as I still am now, at how much things began to make sense in regards to how money works in the modern era; the founding of The Federal Reserve; the Great Depression; the founding of social welfare; etc. (Hear the hour long synopsis here....)

This was the "red pill" (for Matrix fans like myself) that sent me down the rabbit hole. I became interested in the information that was withheld from my liberal, public education. Immediately upon finding out that The Federal Reserve was an illegal entity, I researched the Internal Revenue Service and found them to be a pseudo-government entity. That really rocked my world. Under the direction of fellow conspir-ists, I FOIA'd my IRS file. (FOIA=Freedom of Information Act). I wanted to attempt to withdraw from having to deal with the IRS but it's nearly impossible to operate without paying the piper. I know. I know. We were indoctrinated to be happy tax-payers. It's supposed to be our privilege and our duty as happy U.S. citizens. Right? Well, I'll save that discussion for another post because it deserves its own post. Right now, this narrative is about how I became ONE OF THEM.

The next book I read was Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. Click HERE to read an excerpt I posted on this blog, a couple years ago.

I bet some of you are reading this and are conveniently labelling me a FANATIC. **laughing** I wish I could wake up even a few. A few of you could turn off CNN or FOX and form your own opinion rather than the opinion of a network that is paid to entertain you, put a spin on politics, and influence your opinion. They are not there to educate you. C-SPAN is a better option. No spin! You actually watch the proceedings, whether in the Senate or Congress, or you watch forums on topics that pertain to you.

**heavy sigh** At first, I had a difficult time trying to balance the new information with normal living. I had been fooled for so many years. I felt like I had been jolted awake. I looked around at my extended family and found that they were still asleep, as are many of you that will read this. I encourage you to watch/listen the video. If you are unconvinced, you can dismiss the information. However, I think many of you will find your interest piqued and a desire to learn more.

I am ONE OF THEM and I am so awake!

"To Awakenings!"