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Monday, August 29, 2005

Happiness on the Down Low

I'm happy. But please, let's keep that to ourselves, shall we? You see, over the past few weeks, I've noticed that whenever I sense the state of happiness fighting it's way into my world, some sort of weirdness is not far behind. Therefore, I'm a little gun-shy when it comes to asking myself if I'm happy at some particular moment. Either that, or I'm looking over my shoulder like I've just committed some heinous crime. Perhaps, this is the true definition of SNAFU. The situation is normal, but soon it will be fucked up. No worries, I'm pretty used to that, and I just continue to move on and function in that capacity...normalcy; whatever that is. But in my breathing space, this is what that looks like:

The new job is awesome. I really like my boss and my co-workers. There are only 5 of us, but it's a nice little family. I was a tad nervous at the get-go because, you see, what I thought was going to be a little office job, something that I thought I could do with my eyes closed, is a bit more involved. Basically, there's a lot about the job that is new. Not just to me, but to everyone there, even my boss. So sometimes, it's the blind leading the blind. Okay, maybe it's the farsighted teaching the nearsighted. There are still nerves because I want to do the best job that I can do for him, but I have to tell you, sometimes even though it's not what I expected, nerves are SO much more better than having the soul sucked out of you on a daily basis. I get to wear jeans, t-shirts and slippers, and listen to Hawaiian music all day. I smile a lot more. Even when I don't understand everything I'm doing. I must look a bit goofy, but I wear goofy pretty well.

Averie and her boyfriend Jason bought me tickets to see James Taylor for my birthday. It's been on my wish list to see him in concert since I was a senior in high school. I was elated and it was a nice bonus that they came with us. It was a beautiful venue, the Hollywood Bowl. JT was all I imagined him to be and age has not diminished his perfectly smooth voice in the least. A perfect, starlit night. And then the people behind us arrived....late. Then they ate and talked through the whole thing. And even when asked very nicely if they could keep it down, it appeared they couldn't, so lost were they in their selfish little world. Tunnelvision. One woman even had the nerve to say outloud; "I don't even care about this show, I'm just hungry!" I don't understand people. I don't think I ever will.

The next night, quite unexpectedly, Averie received two free tickets to see Little Shop of Horrors at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. She and Jason had already purchased tickets and so she asked if Charlie and I would like to go, but we had to be ready and leave in 15 minutes. Luckily, we live only 5 minutes from the Arts Center, and so we threw ourselves together and were on our way, Averie and I giggling like girls with crushes. Two nights in a row of exciting nights, something so completely out of the ordinary for us, but for me, so welcomed. We were ecstatic to find that our seats were in the orchestra section, tenth row center. We've NEVER been so close to the stage in this massive theater. Needless to say, it was Serendipity. The music was fabulous, the performers sterling, and I was grateful to see my husband smile. And then, somewhere in the 3rd act, the guy behind us started to snore...LOUDLY! Are you kidding me? Snoring in Little Shop? Who does that?

At intermission, I checked my phone and I had voicemail. Bryson wanted to know when we were coming home. That seemed strange to me. He's never called to see when we were coming home. He said that he "just wondered". Hmmmm. Sounded suspicious, but I let it slide, telling him it was "half-time", a term I knew he'd understand, and that we'd be home in about an hour. Still, it seemed strange to me.

When we got home, Averie and Jason decided to go out and get ice cream and left in her car. A few minutes later, she called me and asked if Caris had used her car. I reminded her that Caris wasn't even home. She said that her seat had been moved up, the mirrors adjusted, and someone had left trash on the passenger side. She said something that never occurred to me and in fact, I thought she was crazy; "You'd better ask Bryson if he drove it." I scoffed. My Grommet wouldn't do that. After all, he doesn't even have his permit yet. He's only 15. He wouldn't think to do something like that. Would he? And then I remembered the weird phone call while we were at the show. So I went to his room and asked him..

"Bryson, is there something that you want to tell me about tonight?"

His face got suddenly serious. "No, why?"

I continued. "Well Bry. Your sister just called and said that there was trash in her car, her seat was moved up, and the mirrors were adjusted. She thought it was Caris, but Caris hasn't been home all day. So...is there something you want to tell me about tonight?"

Now, he's as white as a sheet. "Yeah, I drove it. But I only drove it around the block once!"

Just then Averie called. "By the way," she says. "Just in case you do find out who drove my car, tell them they owe me for putting 2 and a half miles on it. Gas is expensive, you know!"

Now, we don't live in a very big neighborhood. And it would take quite a lot of "driving around the block" to put 2 and a half miles on a car. So I present that to Bryson.

"Your sister says there's 2 and a half miles on her car."

He scrunches up his face and becomes indignant. Not with me...with his sister. "Are you kidding me? She checks her miles? God, she's weird!"

I try my best to keep from smiling. "Bry, she's less weird than you are busted. You're just pissed you got caught and that you weren't smart enough to put everything back the way you found it AND pick up your trash. Evidence, Son. Evidence all over the damn place. So start talking."

He goes on to tell us how he and his buddy decided to go toilet papering a house down at the end of our culdesac and that they drove around a bit before deciding it was the right time. Then he settles in and prepares himself for the lecture, which is worse, I think, than the actual punishment phase. He'd rather be grounded for the rest of his life than listen to Charlie lecture.

I don't sleep well that night. I take acts of deliberate disobedience as personal affronts. These things don't happen with MY kids. I taught them better. These are the voices in my head. It hurts my heart and it takes a little time for me to get over the disappointment that my kids are...normal. Typical teenagers.

It's okay though, next week, Charlie and I will be running away for a few days. Alone. Las Vegas, Baby! Reservations have been made. We've been smiling like kids at each other. Kids who have a secret. The anticipation is exciting. Three days away for my birthday week. We've been looking forward to it. For a short time, we questioned whether it was a good idea to go away the first week of school, especially in light of Bryson now doing something as dumb as joyriding with his sister's car. But the girls tell us to go. They'll keep a good eye on Bry. We deserve it. Charlie deserves it. He's been stressing so much over the layoffs taking place at his work over the last few months. So we keep our plans. And then...

Saturday, Averie tells us that she needs $500 for books and she needs it this week. I called and cancelled our reservations. So, it'll be a quiet birthday at home that week. Ehhh..who wants to celebrate a birthday anyway? It'll just remind me how old I am again.

Sunday night, Averie was walking down the hallway and suddenly there was an ear-piercing scream. I ran down the hall and found her on the floor, crying hysterically and cradling her bleeding foot in her hands. She'd located a sewing needle in the carpet with her bare foot. It had embedded itself and then broken off in the ball of her foot. We couldn't get it out at home and she was too upset and scared to let us dig in there..it hurt too much. So Charlie loaded her in the car, still crying, and took her to the Emergency Room. I stayed home and cleaned her room and did her laundry for her. With school starting tomorrow, I knew she'd be worried about these things. Two hours later, Charlie called and said they couldn't get it either, she was going to have to have minor surgery. Four hours later, she was out of surgery. They'd extracted 3/4 of an inch of broken needle from her foot. Another hour later, they were both home, exhausted, with Averie hobbling on crutches. First day of school today should be an experience for her. Good thing we cancelled Vegas. We couldn't afford to lose another penny...another hospital bill to pay.

But hey...I've lost 6 pounds! I'm happy. But shhhhhhhh...let's keep that on the DL!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Humbled and Grateful

I have to tell you; I am overwhelmed. You have all bowled me over. If I didn't feel loved before (I did), my cup runneth over now. I have much to update you on and I think that you'd be proud of me. I know I'm working hard on learning to be proud of myself. That's something I have usually reserved for the kids, or Charlie.

I want to, and will, respond to every loving and uplifting comment. Every word of love from each of you holds a special place in my mind and heart. I promise you, they have all touched me deeply and profoundly. Each one is a brick of defense against all the negative thoughts that usually send me running to the fridge or pantry.

Please know that I'm grateful. In this, I face the greatest single struggle of my life, but I know I don't face it alone. In love and support, I am already victorious. And the luckiest person in the world.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The "F" Word

OhhhhKAY! As Dr. Phil says, "Stick a fork in me; I'm done!" I am a fat, fat woman. There is nothing else to it. There it is, in black and white. I am F-A-T.
It's funny; all of the words I find completely offensive begin with "F". Well, I do like one "F" word. It's the one I can say without cringing. It's the one I can do without being convinced. But the other members of the "F" family present, in blazing clarity, the source of my grief.

Once I reached the big 4-0, I started saying I was "Thirty-Ten," then "Thirty-Eleven," then "Thirty-Twelve". I couldn't bring myself to say I was Fo. For. Oh fuck (See? No problem with that one!). I'm Forty dammit. In fact, next month I'll be forty-five. On the humorous side of this (if there is one), my sister Loke and I are, at this moment, the same age. She had her birthday while we were in Hawai'i and until the beginning of September, we're both fo..for. For Chrissake. You know.

But honestly, age is not so much the issue to me anymore as it is that I'm fat. I can't call it anything else anymore. Not that I haven't known. I'm not naive and I'm certainly not stupid. I've always acknowledged that I have a weight problem and I've struggled with the reasons for that my whole life. I've come to realize that in my adult life, if I openly acknowledged my weight issues, then I beat everyone to the punch of what they're thinking. At least, that's how the game is played in my head. I'm surprized to find out after all these years of self-abuse that I may have been the only one playing. Sometimes anyway. People don't seem to care about my obesity NEARLY as much as I do. Except the young guy behind the cash register at the department store who looks right through me and asks the teenaged girl behind me if SHE needs any assistance. That's still almost a daily occurrance in my life. Which causes me to still continue to play that headgame on myself. To some, here in the "perfect" OC, I'm invisible. I always will be. I know it's stinking thinking, but it is what it is.

Last year, when I found my birth family, I had hoped that I would see that there was something genetic I could blame my fat on. I wanted to blame anything rather than myself. After meeting, I laughingly said to my siblings; "Crap! I'm the fat one! I had such hope...." That was my last hope. Something genetic. Nope.

The sad truth is that I ate myself into obesity all by myself. I didn't know it years ago, but it started out as a pain relief. In my childhood, it helped me forget that I was abused. Food didn't hurt me. In my teens, it turned into my protection. If I was "chubby", my dad's horny friends who I was supposed to call "Uncles This-or-That" didn't look at me "that way". It was my anti-rape tool. By this time, I'm so messed up and this is the way I reasoned things through. In my early adulthood, after I met the man of my dreams, who loves me thick, thin, and everything in between, food was just yummy and I loved every aspect of it.

Coming home from Hawai'i and looking at the pictures, I'm literally doubled over in pain. When we got on the plane, I prayed that I wouldn't have to ask for a seat-belt extender. I was elated to get past that as the standard buckle clicked into place, and yet the fact remained that I couldn't put the lap tray on the plane down in front of me. It didn't fit because of my belly, which made me curl up in embarrassment. Then, as we were disembarking, one of the flight attendants called me "Auntie". Normally, that would be welcomed. But this was no kid. He was probably my age and he was graying. Would he have called me "Auntie" if I was at a normal weight? I doubt it. Did he call my sister "Auntie"? After all, we're the same age. No, he didn't. Just me. The fat one.

I'm repulsed. I'm miserable. I'm disgusted. I'm done. It took every bit of courage I could muster to put those pictures on my blog. But I don't want to run away anymore and I can't erase myself from good memories. I just can't stand it one more day. I can't take the constant buzz in my head, the tapes playing over and over, the repetitive self-abuse. I've been through it all; every diet, every book, every gym. The thought of surgery is so sweet to me and yet it is not an option I want to grasp.

I need to change the thinking. I need to be kind to me. I need to teach myself new "F" words. Words like "funny", and "fabulous", and "forty is fine". I need to believe that I am loved "just because" (because I am), but I need to work hard to care for me and believe that I am worth the hard work ahead. I know all the health issues. I know how important all of this is. I know how much my kids and Charlie want me to be around. But I also know that I owe this to myself more than anyone else. I deserve to be okay with me. I deserve to not be haunted by these fat demons. I deserve to just love me. I just want a little less of me to love.

Monday, August 08, 2005

First day....canoe paddling on the windward side. Posted by Picasa

First night...Visiting Petra at work at the Turtle Bay Resort: Niece Aja on Brother Kimo's lap, Brother Doug, Sister Loke, Sister-in-law Petra, Pua Posted by Picasa

Family, Food, Fun Posted by Picasa

The Family Tree of the 12 kids Posted by Picasa

Mom, Dad, and all their living children. Posted by Picasa

Petra says this is how Germans drink their beer. Posted by Picasa

What number drink is this? Posted by Picasa

Brother Lono enjoying the pool. Posted by Picasa

Brother Eddie says Brownies and Beer are "Da best kine puu puus!) Posted by Picasa

Golden Moments

I wish I knew how to write in the Reader's Digest Condensed Version style so that I could fit the entire week into just a few sentences and you'd get the jist of it. But the truth is, what transpired over the past week was over 40 years in the making, and a few short sentences wouldn't do it justice. For the first time EVER in the history of my family, all 12 of my mother's living children gathered under one roof.

Last year, when I found my birth family, it was more than I could possibly have asked for. The warm aloha that I received, the open arms, the tears of joy, were beyond description. I was the lost sheep returned to the fold. But this year was not about me. It was more about my eldest brother Clifford, whom I had up to this point, not yet met. And it was about my brother Lono and my sister Lokelani, who were also adopted and raised by another family and were returning to Hawai'i to meet these other birth family members that they had yet to meet themselves. Yes, it's confusing and at times convoluted, but the discovery of roots so long sought after, and the ability to look into someone's face and see a warm familiarity is an experience I really never thought I'd be fortunate enough to realize.

Because our eldest brother Clifford was bringing his own family back to Hawai'i to visit, My brother Eddie, the self-proclaimed "Mr. Ohana" (ohana=family) started making calls to all of us who live away from O'ahu. He called my brother Kimo in Seattle, he called my brother Lono in San Diego, He called my brother Bryan in Kaua'i, he called Loke, and he called me.

"Wouldn't it be great," he said, "If ALL of Mom's kids got together? It would be the very first time. THAT would be a GREAT event, wouldn't it?"

Before I ever had an opportunity to wonder how I was going to manage a plane ticket or ask Charlie if it was a possiblity, Loke called and said that for her birthday, Lono wanted to pay for her ticket AND mine as well. Lono wasn't going to be able to go because of work obligations, but he wanted Loke and I to "represent" the California wing of the family. The thought of going without him was not one we wanted to face, and despite our best efforts at begging, he just didn't think he could do it. Same with Kimo up in Seattle....just didn't think the boss would let him go. Once Loke and I called Eddie back in Hawai'i, he decided he wasn't taking "no" for an answer from anyone. He was absolutely determined to get everyone there. He had EVERYONE call and leave messages on Lono's machine and he worked him over day after day until Lono finally relented. Once he told his boss what the occasion was, his boss was more than accomodating. As the chain continued, once Kimo learned that Lono was going to be there, he too, went to his own boss and told him what was happening. "It's an Oprah story" said Kimo's boss. Something we've all heard countless times. And indeed, it is. Who could stand in the way of history in the making?

Loke and I left San Diego on Friday and our brother Kimo and his wife Beth met us at the airport. We followed Kimo on a quick family history tour on the Windward side of the island. He showed us our grandparents graves, the 7 acres of beachfront property where once our grandparents home stood and where they all played as children. Back then, a small, simple house of simple means, with no money but plenty aloha. It was like that all week, a brother or a sister filling in stories and gaps that those of us that were hanai'd (adopted) missed. Some sad, some happy, some bittersweet, all of it important in some way. Our brother Eddie and his beautiful wife Petra, the host and hostess without equal, showing us the time of our lives and paying for WAY TOO MANY drinks to get us to sing karaoke at Kainoa's in Haleiwa. I think it was the 3rd Blow Job that got us singing backup on Bohemian Rhapsody.

For me, the trip was just a bonus after the intial meetings last summer. It felt good to be a part of something so phenomenal. But for Lono and Loke, I think this year for them was what I experienced last year; healing. Some painful hurts healed, a spiritual renewal. A rebirth in a whole new way. But then again, whatever they experienced I can only surmise, after all, it was theirs and theirs alone.

Loke, Lono and I found ourselves wishing that we had more time, at least a full day with every brother and sister. But with so many siblings, and so little time, that was an impossible feat. We wanted to stay longer, but we were missing our loved ones on the mainland and wishing they were there with us. Next year, we promised, next year for sure.

It does my heart good to be able to say those words and have it mean something not just to me, but to someone else. A family that loves me and can't wait to see me again. The one thing I've desired my whole life.