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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Finding Kimo

It's funny. I was just thinking about how I could very well get some interesting parallels from this cute little fish story. The difference is, instead of being the little fish that got caught and swept away, I was kind of the little fish that got sent to a new home to live with a new family, but didn't know it until much, much later. So in essence, I'm the one that goes searching. And yes, I found Kimo. That's my brother.

I have to give credit to Charlie. He's been the one encouraging me all these years to try to locate my family. He's known the pain of not knowing where I came from. He's been with me over the years as I struggled to fill gaps in my life. He's been the abiding strength when I've been WAY too afraid to step out and search. I'd tell him, "They gave me up like yesterdays newspaper, WHY on God's earth would I want to face rejection again?...what if they don't want me?...what if...what if...what if?" He's been there. So when I shared all of this with Kimo, he hugged Charlie and said "Thank you for giving me my sister."

I didn't set out to find Kimo. I was actually trying to find my parents. The number listed was for James E. I got James E. Only I got James E. Jr., and not James E. Sr. (my father). Kimo is Hawaiian for James. Turns out Kimo is the oldest of my siblings. There are 12 of us. I have discovered over the past weeks that many of the things I was told about my adoption were not quite fact. I wasn't unwanted. I wasn't unloved. And I certainly wasn't forgotten. At least not forgotten by my mother. BUT, I was a huge surprize to my siblings. They didn't know about me because my mother never talked about me. It was a painful secret that she kept to herself, all these years. And the ones that were older than me were simply too young to remember that there was a "missing" baby.

Kimo has been the pace setter. He was the one that called all the family back in Hawaii and broke the news to my parents that I had contacted him. He gave my mother my number, and she called me the next day. When he returned my call to verify that I was indeed his sister, we cried together on the phone. It's been like that ever since. As the days progressed, I was getting at least a phone call a day from brothers and sisters I never really knew existed. I had always thought there were only 6-8 of us. I had no idea. They opened their hearts to me. They WANTED to know me, my family, my life. I was someone who had a family of origin. I was someone who had a rich and colorful family history. I was someone who looked like someone. I belonged.

Kimo, his wife Beth, and their two youngest children; Wai (17) and Josiah (15) came to visit us this past weekend. I was nervous, apprehensive, and a little bit scared. I knew I had no reason to be. But I always go back to that little voice in my head that says mean things like, "they won't like you cuz you're a big girl" or "they'll say, GOD you don't look like any of us!". Never would they do that...but I still have those destructive old tapes running. I was blown away that Kimo and his family drove for two days, from their home in Seattle, to come visit. The minute they pulled up in front of the house and Kimo jumped out of the car, he literally RAN to hug me. And when he hugs, you feel HUGGED! We held each other and wept. He said.."I love you, Sis" For the first time in my life, those words had impact. Beth is soft-spoken and wonderful. Wai is quiet and shy..but Averie and Caris had a way of drawing her out and they talked into the wee hours. Josiah and Bry; well, let's just say there was lots of punching, wrassling, and typical teenage boy antics. Kimo, Charlie, Beth, and I talked and talked and talked. They brought a huge bin full of photo albums and we shared back and forth. So many years to catch up on. So many stories to tell. How do you fit 40 plus years into 2 days? We tried.

Sunday came too quickly. We laughed until it hurt. We cried. We planned for future holidays and summer trips. He told me how happy everyone in Hawaii was that we were coming "home" to visit in July. He said to expect a HUGE crowd at the airport when we arrive. I was told there was so much more to learn that he was afraid that I might be overwhelmed. I assured him I was ready. Bring it on. I want to know everything. I want to know everyone.

Yes, everyone that we've shared this story with has told us that it's the stuff "Oprah" and "Dr. Phil" segments are made of. I'm just happy to give MY family (Charlie and the kids) the family that I've never had...until now. And the best part is, they want us as much as we want them.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Insanity Ensues

Sorry kids! I've been neglecting my blogging activities to ...um...clean. I've been cleaning for DAYS now. My newly discovered brother arrives from Washington state TODAY. Therefore, spring cleaning has been the order of the day..all week. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Double Hat Trick

Ahh yes! Playoff time! You know how I am. I've got my Red On. The banner is flying out front. Today is Game 6 in Nashville, and despite the fact that we're playing on Tennessee ice, I'm keeping my "tentacles" crossed that the boys will bring the quarter-final win home. If last night was any indication of a good omen, I'm thinking it will all be ok and Dave Lewis will be able to keep his job for another round.

We'd had a pretty rough week and so were looking forward to Pub Night on Friday. Charlie and I always try to get there early on Fridays. There's no crowd until later, and the dynamics are less bar-like and more restaurant-ish. The older regs are always in their usual barstools playing NTN, and as always, when we walk in the door, we get the "Cheers" greeting; "CHARLIE! PUA!" and then the drinks show up without so much as our asking. That accomplished, Roz (the owner) gets to the business of making sure I have a charged up NTN Playmaker.

For the most part, I keep a pretty low profile when I play. I don't sit at the bar with the regs. Charlie and I always take a table somewhere in the restaurant. That way, I can watch a hockey game on another tv and still see the NTN screen at the same time. I play under a nickname instead of my own name; I guess for a sense of anonymity. Or at least, if I have a really bad game, then no one will know that the bonehead loser is Pua. :o) I've had my good and bad days. Days where I couldn't answer a question for the life of me, and proposed no threat to the barfly regs sitting at the bar. These guys are Players Plus members with MILLIONS of points to my mere 82,000. It's pretty obvious that they burn a lot of hours sitting at that bar drinking beer and playing the game. But last night, I was a force to be reckoned with. It started out slow; me against 7 men, and for the majority of the first game, I held strong to seventh, or last place. But on question 14 (every game consists of 15 questions), an inquiry regarding Canadian government came up. What the hell do I know about Canada for goshsakes? I guessed. I hit paydirt and suddenly found myself in 2nd place. Suddenly, mumbling starts in barfly reg country. They turn and start scanning the room for this surprising upandcomer. With no satisfaction, they turn their attention back to the screen for the last question. "What producer gave us Agent James Bond?" Well crap. I'm playing against a bunch of middle-aged and older men. What chance do I have to pull this one out? Zero to none. Guess again. I had Broccoli for dinner. I literally ate them alive because for some reason, they went the actor route instead of the producer route and they either answered "Sean Connery" or "George Lazenby". Boys, eat your veggies!

So, by the first hat trick (three wins) with my name flashing on the screen as gamewinner, I could tell the Barfly Boys were positively seething. And Charlie and I, happily hidden but with them delightfully in our view, enjoyed watching as they kept looking around for this infiltrator. I honestly think Charlie was having much more fun than me just watching their reactions with every game I won. SIX games later, the frustration evident and no longer tolerable, the Barfly Boys got up from their seats, split up, and actively walked around the restaurant looking for a chick with a Playmaker. Finally, one of them, saw the Playmaker at our table, looked at me, approached our table:

Barfly Boy: Are you Kanani?

Me: (smiling) Yes.

Barfly Boy: Oh. Hi. I'm Bilbo. I just wanted to see who was kicking our asses.

Me: Well, I wouldn't say kicking your asses (okay, I guess I would). I'm just having a good night. You guys usually send me out of here with my tail between my legs.

Barfly Boy: Are you Hawaiian?

Me: Yes.

Barfly Boy: I used to live in Kona.

Me: Oh! My sister lives in Kona.

Barfly Boy: Where are you from?

Me: My family is on the North Shore; O'ahu.

Barfly Boy: Well, it was nice to meet you. I've seen your name on the screen lots of times before today, but never thought to come find you. Good games tonight.

Me: I'm happy to meet you as well. Thank you.

Barfly Boy goes back to the bar and resumes his place for the next game. I turn mine off. It's time to go and it's always better to leave the table when you're ahead. I think Kenny Rogers said that...right? Anyway, Charlie goes to say goodbye to our friend Jerry, the manager, and close out our tab, and I walk over to Bilbo and the rest of the Barfly Boys. I tap Bilbo on the shoulder:

Me: Goodnight Bilbo. Thanks for the fun games and I hope to see you again (which I will because he's ALWAYS here).

Bilbo: (turning around to face me) Oh, hey..nice to meet you too.

He turns to the other Barfly Boys:

Bilbo: Hey guys, THIS is Kanani (He says the "THIS" with emphasis. As if I were famous or something.)

They all turn toward me, smile, say their polite pleasantries about how it's nice to know me, when I know for a fact they all hate me right now. One of the them, he goes by the handle "Bullitt", says to me..."So YOU'RE the one. You're good. You're damn good." I thank him; "Coming from you, that's quite a compliment."

Bilbo: So you're leaving now?

Me: Yes, it's time to go.

Bilbo: Good. Maybe we have a chance now! Aloha!

As we walk out the door, Charlie says, "Wow..did you see how happy they were you were leaving? That's gotta feel great!" Any other time, a remark like that might make me cry. But this time, I was elated.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A Short-lived Retirement

I've received 4 VERY nice emails from regular readers. One of whom has apparantly been "cruising" my blog on a regular basis but chooses not to comment in an open forum. Hi B. I'm much obliged to you for your words of wisdom regarding the lifelong role of the parent and your encouragement that "this too shall pass". It was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise. As awful as it was to leave for a whopping 5 days; (I think you have to be "gone" longer than that for the authorities to list you as officially missing) it was a really good feeling to know, in the midst of my sorrow, that I was going to be missed. Those of you who have written, commented, loved me through a few really tough days; you have my heartfelt thanks.

We have an agreement. Apologies have been made and accepted. Therefore, I happily retract my "retirement". I've learned over the past 8 years of being the parent of adolescents and teenagers that there will be many of those. We will have our disagreements. I will have my moments of being quite sure they are from outer space and they will have their moments of thinking that I am quite possibly, the Wicked Bitch of the West reincarnated. It's not anything that myriads of mothers before me have not experienced, and something mothers to follow will experience as well...often. As hellish as it sometimes can be, I remind myself on a daily basis that I knowingly and willingly took the job and the bottom line is; I love it. I love them. So, though temporarily thrown from grace, I stand back up, brush off, and get back in the saddle. I might not receive, as often as I like, the laurels of appreciation. But I know in some ways; not often spoken, but often implied, that they love me in the manner they know how. I am learning to be grateful for that and to know that for now, it is enough.

Perhaps, with what I've learned about my own past recently, my origins, my birthline, my family, I'm beginning to understand where compassion must play a role. With that comes patience. A patience that I am not always known for. I'm learning about Ohana (family) and it's very deep-rooted ties. I'm learning about the gift of Hanai (adoption) and it's cultural place in Hawaiian society. A process not really known or understood in mainstream America. An ancient custom. If someone in your family has a baby and can't take care of it, the baby is given in love, to be raised by another older, and perhaps wiser member of the family...sometimes, out of the family. There is no paperwork. There are no lawyers. There is no unfulfilled desire for a child. There is no child that is unwanted.

I have said, many times in the past, when asked why I had no desire to find my birth family.."Why should I go looking for them? They obviously didn't want me." Of course, that was my "survival instinct" setting in. That was the way I protected my fragile psyche. I have now come to know that I was not a "throwaway". I was wanted, loved, and missed. I was a gift, given to a friend who could not have a child of her own. A friend who then moved away with her husband and new baby. I was quite surprised as an adult, to see my birth certificate for the first time, and read names that I had never known. I was devastated to find that my adoptive parents never legally adopted me. When I questioned my mom, she simply responded..."You were hanai'ed to us. There was never any danger of losing you. That isn't done. Once you were in our arms, you were ours. That was that." An understanding between Hawaiian friends. It seems so archaic and antiquated. Perhaps even "backwoods" by today's standards. In truth, it was a loving sacrifice.

A loving sacrifice. Ultimately, isn't that what parenting is?

Friday, April 09, 2004

And so I've been scolded

It appears that I have stepped on some toes. I've been told by my husband that I had it coming considering I wrote of my parental displeasure in a public forum. I've been told by my daughter that I've hurt her feelings and she therefore, let me know, in no uncertain terms that I'm wrong or in her perception; a liar. So, just as publicly, I apologize. The struggle in parenthood continues. I've made mistakes as a mom that I continually try to rectify, but seemingly to no avail. I don't know what else to do but continue to try.

So, Caris, I humbly apologize in front of the world. If I've hurt you, I didn't mean to. I am simply a mom and wife trying her hardest to be better at both jobs with each day that passes. That being said, this will be my last post. The High Priestess is retiring. My family is my world. It's really all I have to write about. If I can't express myself about those joys and struggles here, without unintentionally hurting feelings, then I won't do it at all. It's probably better this way.

To my much loved blog friends; thanks for letting me share your world. I will continue to visit yours and I love that you've let me in. What started out last year as a simple writing exercise has "grown" my world with your presence. Thanks for sharing mine. Be well.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

By the way...

This is for John at DetroitBlog. I've been reading you since July of 2003. Found you by googling the Wings. I've been a fan ever since. Though I may be the only Wingnut in the world from Hawaii, and quite possibly the only crazy woman in the world who DREAMS of going to The Joe and watching the boys play on home ice, I've loved living a Detroit life vicariously through you. Since you didn't have a commenter and don't list an email, (which I understand considering you do what you do), I even went to the trouble to try to get an email to you through a Detroit writer who wrote a story about Detroit bloggers that you appeared in. He also didn't know how to reach you but wished me luck.

I admire your work and the risks you've taken to share the beauty of the towering relics and archive these for posterity as a good historian would. I've walked through those buildings with you, through your pics and words, in complete and utter awe. As you describe the sights and smells, I can sense them. I hurt for your friend when he cut his head, I worry for your safety when you venture into dangerous darkness. I've marveled at the beauty of the present, though the granduer is lost in some sense, and wondered about the rich past. I wanted to thank you for these steps through timeless time, if that makes any sense. I think to you, it will.

Now that you mostly use your blog to write about these wanderings, I wanted you to know that I miss the "debaucheries" as you put them. They gave me a local's glimpse into your world. One that I know I'll see someday. And even then, much like through the blogs of other blog friends, when I do finally get there, I will feel like I've been there before and I'll smile. I miss your runaway lunchbreaks to watch the Wings practice. I miss your editorials about the players. I miss your visits to local haunts, hearing about your hockey games. I wonder how your collarbone is healing up and how it effects your play. I think about your despondent coworker and wonder if he's ok. I don't mind the change. Just wanted you to know that I miss the other stuff too.

Thank you John. You're a gifted and talented writer. A courageous defender of a time long past. A historian. Somehow, even though you don't know me, I consider you a friend. Even if you never read this, at least I'll know I tried. I have this thing about letting talented people know how I feel about their work. Somehow, I feel like you'll get the message.

And by the way....Go Wings! :o)

Once Bitten...

Thanks for all kind wishes for the nuptial anniversary. It was actually very nice to get away. Even if it was only, as Caris puts it, for "what? 17 hours?" As it turns out, it was even less. Despite an amazingly incredible afternoon of sitting on the patio of The Fisherman's Restaurant, which happens to be located ON historic San Clemente pier AND enjoying a beautiful room at Casa Tropicana overlooking the ocean....I got the flu. I made it through a wonderful rainbow of tropical drinks. Yes, the silly ones, resplendant with paper umbrellas and pineapple wedges. The ones that are bluer than Cabo San Lucas waters, and pinker than Pink's hair. We enjoyed Oysters Rockefeller, me for the first time in my life. Charlie was in shellfish heaven; getting an aphrodisiac type high on oyster shooters. I had scampi, made with prawns that bring to mind the oxymoron "jumbo shrimp". It was Nirvana, plain and simple. We laughed and snuggled and watched people on the beach. We talked. Something we haven't done in so long. It felt good, even if most of the conversation revolved around the kids. It is, after all, our world. In all, we spent four hours "camped" at that table, drinking, eating, talking, reacquainting. I have no complaints.

At 3 pm, it was check-in time. We simply paid our bill (with a VERY generous tip to our waitress Colby), and WALKED across the railroad tracks to our hotel. No driving involved. Got our beautiful room (Key Largo), enjoyed the celebratory balloons and champagne the host gifted us with, and then proceeded to take a long nap on our HUGE featherbed. When I woke up a couple of hours later, I felt...not so good. It couldn't have been the food. I didn't have THAT much to drink. Charlie had everything I had, and it was just too soon for a reaction like that. Charlie surmised that perhaps sitting out in that sun for four hours may be the contributing factor. No matter, I wasn't going to be doing much of anything from that point on. So we layed there in that bed, and watched a hockey game on ESPN. Nice. I'm glad my husband can appreciate my love for the game. Especially when I'm not feeling so great. Somewhere around 9 pm, I felt a little better, so we went out for a walk on the pier, got a cup of soup, and walked back to the room. We slept. Charlie; peacefully. Me...not so much.

Being a B&B, they provided us with a full, beautiful breakfast on our patio overlooking the beach. I didn't eat so much, but what I had was very nice. We ended up leaving early, and even though we had no rush to be home, I couldn't think of anyplace better. I wanted my jammies, my blankie, my big fluffy chair. Just feeling...bad. Charlie was patient and wonderful. Kids wondered why we were home so "early". Mom sick. Bleh.

Still, despite my apologies to my ever patient husband, he reminded me how wonderful our four hours of talking, laughing, spending really valueable time together was. I couldn't argue. I'll remember it forever. No bug can ever take that away from me.

The nastiness was gone by Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, the fast pace of the world begins anew. Caris and I are off, yet again, to Los Angeles for a rush casting call on a WB Fall pilot called "Prodigy". Averie is having a "stunning" Tuesday, full of rare and special compliments. Like candy from strangers, perfect English test scores, Comedy Club wonderfulness, and artistic set work. Charlie? He has the flu. :o(

Thursday, April 01, 2004

April Fools?

I've decided to be selfish. On Saturday, I will celebrate 23 years of married life. Or at least I'll try. I've discovered that unless you point out to people that it's either:

1. Your Birthday

2. Your Anniversary

or that:

3. You're sick as a dog

nothing will actually happen. At least nothing nice that you HOPE will happen. You can bend over backwards to do nice things for other people. Namely, your children, your children's friends, your spouse, your spouse's family. But ask for a simple favor yourself, and you're met with deep and heavy sighs which make you wonder if each of these human beings have some sort of pressure leak. If YOU, on the other hand, don't do something THEY ask you to do, you're the most horrid person in the world. It's a no win situation this mothering thing. Give, but don't ask for anything.

So, I'm going to be selfish this weekend. I'm going to pack my bag and Charlie's bag and leave for a day and a night. I know they think their dad deserves it and perhaps I don't. But right now, I don't really care what they think, because I DO deserve it. They gush about what a wonderful person he is, and rightly so. But you know what? I am too. Even if I have to hear it from other people's kids instead of my own. I remember once one of my kids saying to me..."Hey, you never write about me in your blog." And even though I thought they were wrong, I wrote about them in glowing detail. As I often do. After all, I'm the Mom. It's what I'm supposed to do. I write about Charlie. I write about Life. I write about kids events and happenings as a proud parent would. And often, VERY often, I go to other blogs and try to be uplifting and encouraging. But only ONCE have I ever had someone write a wonderful post about me. It wasn't my child..it was someone else's. And she made my whole year with that honor. Thank you Mary. The "atta-boys" I get on a regular basis are from people I have never met in 3d, yet I call friends. I cherish those. I cling to those. Because they don't happen much around here.

It's funny, this parenting thing. The expectation level is so high. You're expected to do this, and you're expected to do that. Multiply it by three and it can be thankless, overwhelming, and often taken for granted. But you still do it, because it's what you're supposed to do. You also vow, "I'm going to be better at this than my parents were." And even if you ARE better, much better than your own parents were, you still find it's never enough. I've discovered that once you dive into that pool called Parenthood, you really aren't allowed to say "Me", or "I" anymore. Those days are over. That torch is passed. Everything in your life revolves around them. Your sleep, your work, your play. Even the mundane, everyday functions. There is no self. Self no longer exists in Parentland.

It's a huge risk to put this out there, and I'm probably gonna pay for it with rolling eyes and that pressure-leak "oh brother" type sigh. So what. Today, it's what I'm feeling. Selfish. I figure, if everyone else around here is allowed to have moments of selfishness, then the Mom who is feeling unloved is allowed to have a moment too. And she's taking the Dad with her.

No joke.