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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Family We Choose

First I want to say that you guys are awesome. I knew I could count on my little blog family for encouragement and moral support. Since yesterday, things have been moving at the speed of light. Well, "things" as in my thought processes. That, and the very kind offer of help from some really unexpected places have my world spinning. It didn't occur to me until well into the day yesterday that perhaps my post might have come off as a solicitation for financial help. I was definitely asking for help. But I didn't want all y'all (that was for Boogie) to think that I was begging for money. I know you didn't, but I needed to clarify if only for my own peace of mind.

Trust is not something that comes easily for me. It used to. I was a very trusting soul once upon a time. But that got broken and abused so many times, that now, in my "old age", I find I'm less and less apt to give it so freely. I have people in my 3D world who have my complete trust and I hold them very close to me. Charlie, my sister Loke, Phil, Ricky, Trent, my friend Nancy, Wes, and the kidlings. However, outside of that "circle of trust" you don't get second chances to regain it if you lose it. AND, if you hurt or abuse the trust of someone I love, well, let's just say I'm good at smiling nice.

Then there's you...my little virtual 'ohana. I look to this blog family as a hammock of emotional strength in tough times. You've ALWAYS been there for me all these years. You've watched me AND my kids grow up. You love me for all my faults and faubles. You celebrate my joys and you cry at my hurts. You laugh in all the right places. When I've had the most f'ed up day, you let me run to you and your arms are wide open. You listen and you don't judge me. You have returned that trust by allowing me into YOUR worlds. I don't take that lightly. So many of us have not yet had the privilege of actually meeting face to face (do you how many people in my 3D world are SHOCKED by this?), and yet over and over again, I see that this little family is the very best of what family should be. Best of all; you don't offer me advice unless I ask for it. Yesterday, I asked for it and you came through. In more ways than one.

So, instead of using the limited commenter, I decided to respond to you here.

Scott: Your "for what it's worth" means a lot to me. While I'm not in a position to buy Wes' inventory outright, I have a consignment plan that might work if he's agreeable. I have built an Ebay store, which is also connected to our website, and yes, it's helped tremendously over the last year. I'm hoping to improve on both if I move forward. Ebay has changed their fee structure this month and I'm not very happy with it. So I'm looking into alternatives with Yahoo Commerce, Etsy, or Silkfair.

Lee: Hey Kiddo! Nice to "see" you outside of FB and back in the Blogdom. If only for a quick visit. Now see what I mean? I asked for the family to gather, and you came. That says it all right there. Re: SCORE. Yes, I've checked with them and also with SBA sponsored non-profs that target minorities and women that want to start small businesses. Specifically, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and KIVA. Great minds think alike, huh?

Jess & Marc: What can I possibly say? Jess, your call today...well you know. I love you both so much. If ever actions speak louder than words, then you two are the Poster Children. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Just hearing your voice gave me such a sense of peace. Bokey; I will definitely be calling you for marketing strategies. :)

Chuck: Eh Brah! I'm no dummy...I have NO kala, which means I will SO need you on my advertising team! I was also thinking that if all goes well, next year, a buying trip to Hawai'i will be a write-off since so many of our vendors are there. It will be nice to have an 'ohana base in Kona.

Ricky: You scare me! :::laughing::: I just saw a glimpse of the pre-retirement Rick and I'm shaking in my boots (well ok, my bare feet). How can anyone not listen to that? Don't you worry Mister. I'll put you to work alright. As I told Trent; should this come to pass, you guys will be asking why you offered to help. The pay's not great, but I promise to feed you. Or I'll make my sister feed you. She's better at that.

Bonnie: IMUA! I'm paddling as fast as I can, Girl. I'm like a duck. Above the surface, it's all calm. But under the water, my little feet at going like crazy!

Jeffrey: I hope to move to Alpha position. It's where Sisko would begin. Picard would definitely want to know what's "out there". As for your favorite Captain, I find her wise indeed. "I've learned to walk the line between hope and caution. We've had other opportunities that didn't work out. But I will admit, I'm leaning toward hope this time."

Greg: Well, they say timing is everything! And as you've pointed out, I have a great support system. I hope the "they" and the "timing" in that saying are in sync for me. :)

Jim Dow: I don't even know what to say. But I hope that hug spoke for me today. And I hope you know that I've come to find a great deal of comfort in seeing your face in every place that H.O.T. has called home. More than anything, I hope I get an opportunity to make you proud.

My "family" rocks.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What to do...What to do?

Yesterday I called my sister. I'd had a dream, or a thought, or something. All I know is I needed to run it by her. The last time I had a decent night's sleep was at her house two weekends ago, and that was drug-induced. I haven't slept well in a month or two. My system is all messed up. For the first time in my life, I'm not stress-eating. As a matter of fact, I find that I'm NOT eating because when I do eat, my stomach gets sick. I'm honestly a mess.

Ever since Wes left last week to go to Washington to check on his mother, I walk around the shop, and in between customers, I cry. It's been a rough couple of weeks. I keep wondering if there's a way to save my "baby". I know House of Tiki doesn't belong to me. But I feel like for the last five years, I've treated it as my own. I've poured so much of me into helping Wes run this little place. Each time someone walks in the door to tell us how sorry they are that we're closing, they say.."I don't know where I'll get my 'fix' of Aloha now. There's nothing else like House of Tiki around here." It's true. There IS nothing like it around here.

When I came to House of Tiki, I was a broken person. I'd just left a very nice "career" position as a payroll accountant in the corporate offices of a very well-known national restaurant chain. I thought I'd be there until I retired. It didn't work out that way though because people lied and other people believed those lies. Apparantly, the lies had been flowing around for quite some time before I knew it, and I found out only during my yearly evaluation. When I told my supervisor that those were lies, she didn't believe me, put me on suspension and asked me to sign the eval. I refused and resigned. I left that day. For the next two months, I curled up into a ball and cried.

A year later, I walked into this little island-style store where I bought my Christmas cards every year, to try to sell them my sister's candied pecans. I walked out with a job offer to do the books part-time, and a new friend in the owner; Wes. For the first time in a long time, I started to feel like a worthwhile human again. That grew, over these years into practically running the show. Of course, Wes was still the Big Kahuna. House of Tiki was his, he wrote the checks, and he made the decisions. But he put a lot of trust in me, and there weren't a whole lot of decisions he made with regard to the store without asking for my input. Over the last few years, with other projects in the works, he began stepping further and further back. After his little venture into the adjoining coffeeshop, Hot Lava Java closed, his spirit took a beating and his heart just wasn't in it anymore. IT was completely understandable. But it was in my heart to stay with him. As long as he was willing to hold on, I would hold on with him. I moved with him when he moved the shop. I moved with him again when he moved the shop. We kept trying, but I could see that his joy and his interests were revolving less and less around House of Tiki. Again, understandable.

The truth is, I WANTED to offer to take over the business. I had ideas. I definitely had ideas. But I had no capital to make that happen. Charlie and I were/are in no position to offer to buy the business from Wes. So now, here we are, within a month's time, he decides to close for good. Whatever doesn't sell by the 30th, goes into storage or on Craig's List. Of course, I feel a sense of loss, but I will do whatever he wants to do. That's what family does.

Back to my dream. I dreamt I took over. That I approached Wes with a plan. Everything is already in place. It's all there. If I let him shut it down and put everything in storage, well then, it would kinda be over. But this way, stuff's still there. The entire store is already decorated. The rent in the unit is on a month-to-month basis, it's not like I have to sign a lease. This is my Hail Mary play. Ask Wes to do an inventory of what's left, put a value on it, and let me continue to run the store and make payments to him on the leftover inventory as I can. If stuff's in storage, who will see it? What does he have to lose? I will take out a very small loan, enough to pay the rent on the unit for a couple months, the utilities, and not take a salary. I will advertise like crazy, something we didn't do enough of. I know all the vendors and I know all the customers. I know what sells and what doesn't sell and now that everything is pretty much gone, I have a clean slate to only put what sells in there. I know what Wes did that worked, and I know what I might try to do a little differently.

For the last three years I have jokingly told Wes when he left for extended amounts of time that if he wasn't careful, when he returned he would find I'd changed the name of the business to "Pua's Polynesian Emporium." Now, I tell Lokelani, maybe I can do this. Maybe I will. Maybe, just maybe, I can make it work. Maybe, he'll let me give it a whirl. I've only got this one chance. I'm scared shitless, but I've been terrified before and lived. I've got no money and only a couple of weeks to come up with some. I've had no sleep, but I'm kinda getting used to that. Maybe I'm putting too much on a dream. But I don't want to live with regrets if I don't even try. What to do? What to do?

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Cruise & A New Car....Kinda

I got home from the shop and stood in the quiet house. Ellie, as usual, greeted me happily at the door. After receiving her "welcome home" lovies, I surveyed the kitchen; the sink full of dishes from hit-and-run meals by college kids on project deadlines. I sighed. I'd just spent the day cleaning nearly bare shelves and listening to people tell me how sorry they were that we were closing. I was in no mood to clean up dishes only to dirty more.

As I pondered dinner preparation in front of an open freezer door, my darling husband, probably sensing the vibe from his frustrated wife, called from his car on the way home.

"I'm about to pull into the driveway. Come outside and let's go out for a bite. I know you've had a hard day and neither one of us wants to cook..right?"

I love that he knows me. I grabbed my purse and waited on our porch for my knight to pull up in his old white steed named Buick. Two blocks away from home, we drive into the parking lot of a favorite restaurant; Karl Strauss Brewery. It's valet parking, so we approach the kiosk, our young friend gives Charlie a ticket and we head inside. We always chuckle at how all the nice luxury cars are parked right out front. Charlie's poor old car (formerly his mother's) is usually delegated to a space a bit farther away from the restaurant entrance.

We're enjoying our dinner while my sweet husband lets me lament my way through a couple of Bourbon & Cokes (yeah, I'm hitting the hard stuff). We talk about the countdown of the last few days left in the life of House of Tiki. I cry. He reaches across the table to hold my hand and he allows me to grieve. When I've come to a place of resolve, at least for the moment, he smiles and says;

"I have a surprise for you. Really, it's for both of us. I think we deserve it.

I look at him and cock my head, much like Ellie does when you say "Cookie?" to her. He tells me that he's booked us a little 3-day cruise in November, after all is said and done at House of Tiki, and after his October 30th project deadline at work. What? You did what? He squeezes my hand.

"We deserve it, and it's only a couple of days. We don't ever have to get off the boat if you don't want. After all, we've seen Ensenada. Been there, done that. We'll just lounge on the boat, eat, drink, and let someone wait on us. How's that sound?"

He can tell right away that I'm running dollar signs through my head. He knows I'm thinking about money.

"Stop. It cost us a pittance. It was nothing. I got a good deal. It's off-season. Besides, we spend more on kids books, and keeping kids cars running. It's our turn. It's just a couple days. Let's just do this and not think. Let's debrief. Let's leave all these cares behind on the land while we sail on the sea. Let's rock and roll Baby!"

He winks at me from across the table. A good effect. I'm sold. And grateful. I adore this man.

We pay the check and go outside to collect our ride from the stable. It's a one valet place, but he's a bit backed up with two Mercedes to park, and so I sit on a nearby bench to wait. He sees Charlie and runs to get the car. My view of the parking lot is obstructed by a palm tree, but Charlie snickers and I hear him say;

"He's bringing us a Lexus, Honey."

I laugh.

"That's a good one Charlie. A cruise and a new car all in one night."

He looks at me quite seriously.

"I'm not kidding."

Sure enough, our young page has brought us a shiny, spanking new black stallion of the Lexus variety. Through the driver's window, he sees my jaw drop. He opens the door, and Charlie says:

"Well, that's very nice, and I'd love to take it off your hands, but I'm afraid the owner might have a coronary when he comes out and sees you've brought HIM a 1996 Buick."

Our startled friend responds; "Not your car?"

"While the temptation to lie right now is overwhelming, no, that's not my car."

The embarrassed valet returns the beautiful car to its parking space and retrieves Charlie's nearly vintage vehicle. We laugh about the "possibilities" and "what ifs" had we simply got in and took a quick joy ride.

"Well." Says my still-shining knight. "I may not be able to give you a land yacht right now, but I can give you a Fun Ship for a couple days."

And off we drove into the sunset.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Abyss

I can feel it creeping in. It's slow in coming, but I know it is stealthily closing in. The foreboding cloud of depressing is about to cast itself over me. Today, people that have wandered in to the shop have all asked the question; "So what are you going to do now?" Without really thinking about it, I answered; "Well, I guess I'll just curl up into the fetal position and cry for a little while...maybe a week or so. After that, I don't know."

I'm really scared. So scared that stuff's just not right and my body is all out of whack. I have to remember to eat, which is a very new experience for me. A year ago, I'd be eating myself to death. But now, eating is, well, sometimes difficult. Food is not where I hide anymore. The stress is taking a toll. Today was a very stressful day. I so needed a hero. But the one I needed was not forthcoming, and so, yet again, I had to depend on myself.

I cry all the time, mostly when I'm alone. I haven't been sleeping very well and have unfortunately been depending a little too much on those little "Simply Sleep" pills. I know that I'm in the early stages of grief and I'm trying really hard not to be obvious about it. I just keep functioning. Because I have to. I don't know what else to do.

I feel lost. The only one that really knows how deeply my heart hurts is Charlie. I go through the motions. I keep the regular routine. I smile. I say, "Bye. Have a nice day!" when the kids leave for school or work. I fix what's broken, and clean what's dirty, and feed what's hungry, and then I go to work. And I count the days until the 30th when the doors close for good.

I remember when I first started this blog. I called it "The Abyss" because I started writing during a time in my life when I struggled with depression on a daily basis. I needed an outlet. Over the years, it changed. I found joy and family, and left the sadness behind. But these last couple of weeks, I feel that familiar pain. That sadness that grips at me and scares me down to my soul. This weekend, I escaped to my sister's house and just slept a lot. Sometimes, I think just being somewhere else besides home lets your mind rest. I used to consider home a safe haven. Right now, it doesn't feel like that to me. There is always something that needs taking care of, or requires attention, or pulls at me. This is sadness talking. I know it. It isn't rational and it's all full of emotion and it's being typed through tears. But I've gotta put it somewhere, so this is where I'm putting it. And I don't much care about anything else.

I probably should go to bed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Note to My Son

If I say "Help Me"...Can you just please say "Okay"? Is that so hard?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hau'oli La Hanau Maikalima

photo courtesy of Brown Hound Photos :)

I woke up at 3:30 am. I don't know why. I lay there listening to Charlie's rhythmic breathing next to me, and the contented sleep-sigh of Ellie at my feet. I was jealous. They were blissfully ignorant of my inability to join them in restful slumber. Dammit. I tossed. I turned. It isn't new, this insomnia thing. It's kinda been this way for months now. I worry about the shop, I worry about the bills, I worry about my husband worrying about the bills. Now, I worry about being unemployed. But that's not it this time. I looked at the clock again; 4:45, tick, tick, tick. And then it hits me...

Twenty-four years ago today, at 4:49 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, after 19 1/2 hours of labor, Charlie and I added to our family:

Averie Joy Maikalima Omakua
7 lbs. 9 oz. 19.5 in.

She was beautiful. Perfect in every way. She turned our twoness into threeness. She made us a family. Her name means "From the hand of the Father", and she was and is our joy. She didn't cry, she just opened her eyes and looked around; surveying her world. It was an indication of things to come. The way that she would function; eyes open, always watching and writing down everything she saw. She has the soul of a poet and an easy laugh. She was my first. My entrance into parenthood. The beginning of what is my continual well of worry, and my constant source of awe. She makes me feel that everything is worth it. I wrote little things she said down and I called them "Averie-isms" and sometimes, I look through that little rememberance and I smile. For all the bad, for all the fuckups, for all the hurt, for every stupid decision I've made in my life, I look at her and know without a doubt that she is part of my reward for hanging in. I did something good. And every night, when she says "I love you Mommy." My heart swells.

One Mother's Day, moons ago, she made a list of some of the reasons she thought I was awesome. I think since it's 4:49 am, and I'm not sleeping anyway, well why not return the favor? These are the Averie things I love:

1. Her favorite number is 42. Douglas Adams and I are proud. :)

2. Instead of thinking I was daft for loving Python comedy, she wink-wink, nudge-nudges right along with me.

3. She's freakin' hilarious and remembers every stand-up routine that ever made me laugh, and always makes me laugh when I need it.

4. She's equally talented and tenacious, and even though she's been let down again and again, she just keeps working at pursuing her dreams.

5. She calls home almost every night to talk to her Daddy, which makes him happy. I love that she adores him, trusts him, and values his opinion.

6. She knows how much I love trivia and feeds me constantly with yummy entertainment info so I can maintain my title of "Trivia Queen".

7. She embraces her heritage; adopting "Kulia I Kanu'u" (Strive for the Highest) as her life mantra and putting it into action.

8. She CHOSE ME to take with her to a "secret" Eddie Izzard show because she knew how much I loved him.

9. She wore the scarves I knitted for her even though a couple of them were my "firsts" and they were really ugly.

10. She's a chip off the old Nerd Blocks. Of the three, she's the one that loves Sci-Fi and comedy (especially British comedy), which makes Charlie and I pretty sure there was no mix-up at the hospital. She's definitely ours.

Happy Birthday Sweet Averie. Thank you for teaching me how to be a mommy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Note From Pua

It's hard to describe. My heart is heavy, but also overflows with gratitude at the same time. It's hard to imagine that House of Tiki will be no more. Yet, there is no mistaking that it has indeed, left a footprint. For me, a bit more, a handprint on my heart.

Through H.O.T., I've met some of the best people in the world. People who have become more than friends. I have a hanai brother, Wes, to add to the 7 brothers and 6 sisters born to my 'ohana. And I have my hanai keiki Justin ("Juice!") to add to an already overflowing pu'uwai. To me, they couldn't be any more true kama'aina than if they had Hawaiian blood flowing through their veins. We will forevermore be family.

The Aloha Spirit I felt when I first came to H.O.T. I found in Sharon, her daughter Kaytee, and in Wes and his son Justin. It was home away from home and like a tonic to a homesick Hawaiian. That is how it's been these years.

There have been the highest highs and now the lowest low, but its been a great ride.

I want to thank everyone who has shown us love these past few days. Since we made the announcement, the outpouring has been phenomenal. I want to mention everyone by name, but the list would go on and on. There are, however, some House of Tiki 'ohana that deserve mention because they bent over backwards to help us and would not accept "we're fine" as an answer:

Lance; you're the man. Coming by nearly everyday to ask what you could do to help. Standing behind that shave ice machine for 10 hours straight and then standing behind your own tiki bar for a couple more to nurse our wounds and battle scars with your fabulous MaiKai Mai-Tais. Thank you Dear Friend.

Sharon, Gary, Kaytee, & the Tropical Paradise Dancers; Mahalo nui. In true Aloha, you offered your time and talent and turned what could have been a sad day into a celebration. Thank you. Sharon, thank you for the special trip you made to help us out. I wish I cold put into words how much that meant. You are an angel.

Caris, Charlie, Averie, Juice,...You've always busted 'okole. You've been there through everything and worked your tails off. You always said; "How can I help?" and "What can I do?" and you never asked "What's in it for me?" You did what you did because your hearts were always in the right place and always at the right time, and because you loved us. Thank you.

Sis, Phil, Rick, Trent...It was a long way to come for just a hug and a kiss, but you did that because that is who you are and that is why I love you. Thank you for always listening to my rants. Thank you for always providing a soft place to land, an ear, a shoulder, and always, without question a good laugh when laugh therapy was needed. You know that there will be more tears, and you give me the freedom to do that without judgement and you hug me through the hard parts. There will be no more House of Tiki, but I know there will always be your love for me and that is the greatest comfort of all. I love you.

Jim Dow. I don't know what else to say but thank you for always being there at the drop of a hat. Whenever. Whatever. And again without ever once expecting anything in return. You're a good, good person and I look forward to seeing you at happy events outside of the hut.

Big Ed; Mahalo for the special trip. As you could probably tell by the end of the day Saturday..it wasn't without merit. You "rock" and I'll miss those Big Ed bear hugs.

Nick; the fact that you drove ALL THAT WAY to support us and to say Aloha will always be something I look on as special. It really meant so much to see you there. Thank you. I hope your son is loving his "surfing ants". :)

Holden; I honestly don't have words. Mahalo. From the bottom of my heart. From the words of encouragement through a really hard week, to your generosity in keeping our shelves stocked with the best mugs in the world, and for always listening with a kind ear and an open heart. Most of all, thank you for being there Saturday. It meant more to me than you can know.

To the TC 'Ohana who wrote notes and sent emails...mahalo for your heartfelt wishes. I know this isn't the end. It's just the beginning of new adventures.

To the friends and customers who've come through the years...thank you for your support. If I've forgotten anyone, please forgive me and know that you are in my heart and I am grateful.

Finally, to my hanai brother Wes; though it is heartbreaking to see our little hut close, we did what we could to nurture it. Because of that, friendships were made, bonds were formed, and new family was born. I watched you pour out a generous heart year after year. In my small kid days; my uncle always told me to do what you could with what you had, even if what you had was only manini (little). I've seen you do that again and again. You gave when you had little and you never expected a return. 'Ohana is more than just a word for family. Hanai goes beyond adopted family. It is the life which revolves around the extended family and the clan. It is a group of both closely and distantly related people who share nearly everything: land, food, children, status, and most importantly; the Spirit of Aloha. You have been more to me than the owner of a little shack of Aloha here on the Mainland. You are my friend. You are truly my brother. I adore you and I have been blessed and honored to have shared this experience with you. Me ke Aloha pumehana my dear and beloved friend. I do not know where the wind will blow us, but I know that there are new adventures ahead. This is not goodbye. Remember...Kulia i Kanu'u and IMUA! Malama Pono, Pua

Aloha `oe, aloha `oe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A ho`i a`e au
Until we meet again. (Queen Lili'uokalani, 1878

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It Is What It Is

The feeding frenzy has begun. Since the email advertising campaign, the Facebook notice, and the postcards we sent have hit the street, the vultures have been circling over House of Tiki. Wes tells me that I should take some customers' f'd up, greedy attitudes in stride. "Just let it go Pua. Don't get so worked up. Water off a duck's back." But I have a hard time standing by while some people try to rape us.

For the most part, people have been generous and kind. They have come by the shop this week, not waiting for the sale on Saturday, in an effort to support us. They're sad, and they know we're sad. They're buying things at their regular price and not haggling. They're staying to talk with us about how they'll miss us and how they've been regular customers for the eight years we've been open. Even the "Tikiphiles", who can sometimes be a little overwhelming for me, have been exceptionally kind.

Then there are the bottom feeders. The ones who say "Wow, I'm really bummed. So sorry that you have to close your business." Then in the next breath ask if a price on a beautiful tiki is the "best you can do." Even worse, one woman actually asked if a 99 cent sticker was also going to be on sale come Saturday. A freakin' 99 cent sticker. Wes spent a half hour last night listening to a customer tell him how he'd just got back from two weeks in Tahiti, staying at an $1800 a day resort and how much money he dropped there on artwork. In the same breath, he asks Wes if the price on an Acacia carving is different because, well you know, it's "me". As if Wes OWES him something. Wes tells him that we still have to make money to pay bills and he's not just GIVING stuff away. The guy's response? "Well, it is what it is." Which I translate as his way of saying; "Hey, you're going out of business anyway, so why not let me kick you while you're down?"

When I was growing up, I would hear the phrase "stupid haole" all the time. No, it isn't nice. But you have to understand that many native Hawaiians have a real bone to pick with white, non-locals. It's a story that has hundreds of years of history. A kingdom illegally stolen, a queen overthrown, threatened with the certainty of the spilled blood of her people if she didn't surrender her throne and made a prisoner by rich Americans. It isn't a pretty story. Some Hawaiians can't forget or forgive. Pineapple and cane fields are disappearing. Land is being bought up by rich foreigners and mainlanders. Native Hawaiians cannot even afford to own the land that is rightfully theirs. The truth is, Hawaii depends on tourism to survive.

Fortunately, we are a beautiful and welcoming people. A people with a rich heritage and an overflowing wealth of culture that we are proud to show off and share. There is no denying that it is paradise. But we'd really like people to understand that it is so much more to us than a premier vacation spot. It is our home. We have jobs, real jobs. We're not just hula dancers, or tour bus drivers, or musicians. We have bills to pay, and elderly parents to care for just like everyone else. We have poverty in the parts of the islands that you don't see when you're on your tours. We have a terrible drug problem, and our public schools rank lowest in the nation. It is a real place with everyday problems that continue to go on even after two week holidays are over.

As a native Hawaiian, I don't prescribe to the notion that every non-local is a "stupid haole". So sometimes, when I hear the term come out of someone's mouth, I cringe. After all, I'm hapa (half) haole. My boss is haole, my husband is haole, my children...well let's face it; they're haole. I am surrounded by beloved friends and family who are haole. I don't bandy the word "haole" around, and the truth is, the word by itself is not necessarily derogatory. In my 'ohana, we use it to describe someone.."You know, that haole girl that has the green jeep." It's really only when you put the word "stupid" or "dumb" in front of it that it becomes, well, mean.

Over the years I have been at H.O.T., there have been times, when I've come across some people who lack sensitivity when it comes to Hawaiiana or Hawaiian culture. I have always tried to maintain my spirit of Aloha. I really think that's why the people who have come there have continued to come there over the years. They sense that Aloha Spirit, which I have always felt Wes has embodied. If I didn't feel that way, I would have never come to work for and with him. It has been, at times, very difficult to listen to people drone on and on about their spectacular home in Kauai, or their beachfront property in Maui. I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if these were their everyday homes. But these are just their vacation homes.

Yes, I understand that people love Hawai'i. I understand that they would want to share their excitement. The problem is that it's very hard for someone who can't relate to their material wealth to be excited about it. I don't want to know how many rooms your house in Hanalei has. I don't want to see pictures of your macadamia nut farm. I don't want to know how you can afford to retire in paradise when members of my own family have to LEAVE the islands to be able to retire SOMEDAY, or if ever. I don't fucking care that you're building your dream home where I will never be able to live again. They are talking to someone, who when they go home, goes to a sister or brother's home, not a four-star resort. They are talking to someone who comes from such a large family that we sometimes share sleeping space on the floor, or a futon, or a couch, or sometimes, even a sleeping bag in a tent in the yard. I'm not complaining. I love going home. My kids love going home. We have the benefit of 'ohana. Lots of 'ohana. In this alone, we are more wealthy than can be described. We know the true Hawai'i that people who do not live there will never know. This is just about perspective.

Now, if they want to talk to me about the beauty of the land, where to visit, what to see, I can barely contain my excitement. If they want to get away from the usual touristy crap, I'm their girl. If they want to hear the stories of my people, my culture, my home, I am all over it. But please do not come in the store and try to tell me how much YOU know about Hawaii. And for God's sake, DO NOT give me a history lesson because your history is skewed. Also, I'm the LAST person that wants to talk about religion and the role of missionaries in the islands.

Last, but not least, do not come in with expectations that because you believe you know so much, and you "THINK" you're so polynesian because you can say "Iorana!" and you got a fucking Tahitian tattoo and your kid takes hula lessons, that you can come in the store and take advantage of us. We're going out of business you asshole. If you've got the money, and we know you do because you keep throwing it around all over the islands, then Jesus Christ, pay the price on the tag and don't ask for the "bro deal". You're not my fucking my bro. You're just a...well you're just a stupid haole.

It is what it is.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Absolutely Fearless

Before our trip to New York, I went into the large, nationally-known bookstore in the big-ass mall by my house with the sole purpose of purchasing FARB's new book.

(I'm good at hawking wares)

I knew that once I got to the East Coast, I would have an opportunity to FINALLY meet him, thanks to Jess and Marc, and I wanted to be prepared. I have probably been one of Rob's stalker nightmares over the last few years. Pandering mercilessly for the prize of his signature in my books. I have done the same with Ricker, who, in his adorably sweet way (shhhhhh...he has a Julia Sugarbaker "public persona" to uphold) has not only signed my book, but rallied to help me "flay" FARB if he didn't sign my books as well. I did, by the way, tell Jeffrey that the lack of Rob's signatures in my books was NOT his fault, but mine. Rob has been very kind in telling me where to send them. I'm just a procrastinator. That, and I held out a secret hope that I would get to have this done in person, one fine day. Thanks to Averie's interview process and Jess and Marc's hospitality, that fine day finally arrived. But I digress.

I'm at the BIG bookstore. I'm looking for the book. I'm not having much success. So I begin looking for an "associate". You know, the kids with the nametags that work there. As it turns out, I see a VERY hot, young person with a nametag and a headset. I would say that it's safe to assume that he works there. He's a cutie, this one. Black pants, black v-neck t-shirt, big radiant smile, deep brown eyes. His hair is kinda funky, but we can't have everything. So I approach the young hottie to get some help finding my book.

"Excuse me?"

He turns around from the stack of CDs he's organizing and nearly falls backward from shock.

"Whoa! Hey Mommy! What are you doing here?"

He hugs me and gives me a quick kiss on the cheek. Then I begin to explain to him that I'm looking for my friend's book, but I'm not having much luck. He says, in a very confident tone; "No worries. We'll find it." So I follow him. Upstairs. Downstairs. For five or ten minutes. He's not having much luck either. So he goes on the little computer and types the name.

"Well." He says, quite matter-of-factly. "It would be in the Gay & Lesbian Fiction section."

"Yes." I say, in affirmation. "I'm thinking that's the direction."

So, off we go again. And again, we're walking in circles for a few minutes. I can see he's a little confused and frustrated.

"That section WAS right here last week. Where'd it go?"

His frustration grows to the point he gets on his little headset and in a sure and certain, unhushed tone says to the person on the other end;

"Hey! Where the heck did the Gay & Lesbian section go?"

Every head in the attached Seattle's Best coffee bar turns in our direction. Bry's attention is on the task at hand.

"Yeah, I looked by the Religion section. That's a dumb place for that section to be anyway. Who did that?"

More heads turn. I smile.

"Well, my mom is here and she wants to know."

Now the WHOLE coffee bar population, and then some, are wrenching their necks around corners to see "the mom looking for the Gay & Lesbian section."

Bryson finishes his headset conversation and turns to me. I'm cracking up, and he gives me the "what's up?" look. I give the head nod over to the coffee clutch. He shrugs his shoulders and says.."Eh, whatever. I don't know what the big deal is."

Laughing, I said to him, "Well Grommie, there's two ways those people were probably looking at it. One; you have a mother who has FINALLY decided to come out of the closet, or two; your mother has just discovered that YOU'VE come out of the closet and she's getting reference material. Either way, I know of some young men around here that would be mortified to be stared at by a bunch of people AND who would have literally whispered "Gay & Lesbian" when they had to help someone. But YOU? You're absolutely fearless and that makes me so proud."

He looked at me, shook his head, and said again.."I don't know what the big deal is. People need to get over themselves. Let's go get your book."

With a twinkle in my eye, and proud as could be, I followed my son to the counter. I'm thinking an anonymous letter to the bookstore about their awesome young associate might be in the mail soon.