Marti's Theory

Okay, here’s the deal… this front page is my regular, ongoing, run-of-the-mill “whatever’s on my mind today” blog.  The page “Invasive Species” is a murder mystery work in progress that I’m posting for anyone who is interested in following along, as it unfolds.  If you like it, subscribe to the blog and you’ll get a notification when new pages are posted.  And as always – I love comments!  Enjoy…

Marti

I actually wrote this in 2005, but it just came up in conversation on Facebook, so I hunted it down on a now defunct blog and copy/pasted it over here.  Didn’t edit; just copied.  I love this goofy man and yes, this happened:

Okay, I’ve got a story – this happened a couple of years ago, in the Kahului Safeway.

I was standing in line to have my groceries checked, sort of biding my time, privately zoning out, when I could sense that the person behind me seemed to want my attention. Know how you can just feel it when someone wants into your space? I could peripherally see that there was a man behind me, looking back and forth between the tabloids and me. He was about three inches farther into the zone that is universally declared as MINE than I cared to have him. Finally, he spoke.

“So…do you think this stuff is true?” He spoke in the halting voice of someone who might be a little slow or at very least undereducated. Normally I’m a very friendly person, but on that day, I just didn’t want to deal with it. Without making eye contact, I politely mumbled something about not believing anything those papers wrote. I glanced at the tabloid, which had a photo of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.

A few seconds passed. I could tell he was still looking at me.

Him: “You know, I used to work for them.”
Me: “Oh, that’s interesting.” Said nicely and warmly but still no eye contact
Him: “Yeah, they had a place on Kauai.”
Me: “Did they?”
Him: “Yeah. I was their gardener!”

He said this with such pride that I was moved to turn around and be warm and decent to this poor person. “Wow, that’s neat,” I said as I turned to smile directly into a pair of very familiar twinkling blue eyes and ornery smirk. (Holy shit, it’s Bill Murray). Without missing a beat, I turned back around and continued to stack my groceries on the conveyor. He helped. No further eye contact on my part while I thought it through.

“Yeah,” said I rather maternally, “you’ve gotta really be careful about believing what you read in those things.”

Gardener Bill: “Really? Isn’t it true?”

Me: “No. They’re really mean to celebrities.” We pause again, each person plotting his next move. Okay, I’ve got it.

Me again: “But you know who they really, really go after?”

Gardener Bill, seriously wondering: “Uh…athletes?”

“No…”

(Question mark hangs in the air)

Me, slowly, after a deliberate pause: “Comedians.”

And the game began.

For the next ten minutes we played a cat and mouse game (not sure who was whom) with Bill trying to make me acknowledge who he was and that I liked him and me absolutely refusing the bait. I rattled off his whole life history practically (not to mention that of his brother Brian – I mean, Bill Murray is my all time favorite twisted brain idol – I LOVE him and know practically all there is to know about him). Yet it was just in matter-of-fact conversation, without me ever looking directly at him again or acknowledging that I had ever heard of Bill Murray. I talked about the first SNL season and said “I’ll tell you who my favorite was–” and he’d cut me off, asking expectantly, “Bill Murray??? Is your favorite Bill Murray??? I really like him!!” And I’d just shake my head like, no…don’t seem remember him. I referenced Second City, bit players from his movies, I even picked up a disposable Gillette from the impulse rack and mumbled something about the Razor’s Edge (ouch). And each time he’d expectantly ask, “Wasn’t BILL MURRAY in that??” It was so much fun.

This continued through the store, out to the parking lot and all the way to my car. For a moment, I thought he was going to actually get in (what fun that would have been). Until finally I had to drive away. My last image of him was standing in the Safeway parking lot, waving goodbye with an exaggerated sad face.

I’m thinking of this because I just watched Lost in Translation for the third time. And each time I see it, I love it more. Why do I absolutely love that movie so much? It also caused me to realize that many of my ‘keeper’ movies have him in it – What About Bob? Groundhog Day, Rushmore, A Life Aquatic…never made the Murray connection before.

I guess some twisted brains age really, really well. And his continues to be my favorite, in fact more so than ever.

o-LOST-IN-TRANSLATION-facebook

I remember sitting my office at Silverado Resort, when my buddy Gary – referring to how I handled a recent situation – made the comment that I was the poster girl for the “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” sound bite. He meant it as a compliment and I took it as such, referring back to it often.   I mean, that’s a good thing, right?   Make the best of any given situation, right?  So I liked being associated with it.

That is, I liked it until last week. While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed … past the cats, past the political sound bites, past the Instagrams of what people had for dinner last night, I came upon this:

lemon chocolate

What???

I stopped and back-scrolled. “When life gives you lemons, throw it back and ask for chocolate?” Oh, yes. YES!   Hitting the SHARE button, I announced to the world that this is how I am now planning to live the last third of my life. Yes, I’m two-thirds of the way through. I’m not sure when that happened, but I digress…

So now I had a new motto, which I was very happy with.  Until last Wednesday.  It was during my 45 minute drive back from the main campus. Traffic was slow, radio reception was static-ky and my iPod was at home, so my thoughts wandered back to that sound bite. Give back the lemons and ask for chocolate. What a concept.

But what kind of chocolate would I want? Godiva? A chocolate truffle? Wait. What if I only get a Hershey’s bar, like at the checkout counter at Safeway? I mean, nothing against Hershey’s but that’s pretty … ordinary.  Shouldn’t I ask for something better?  I could at least score one of those Cadbury eggs that they only sell around Easter.

The more I thought, the more I realized that – as much as I love chocolate – I knew I could do better. Stuck in traffic, I tried to think of my most favorite taste sensation ever. What has made my taste buds sing beyond all else? As evidenced by my current plus size slacks, I dearly love food. So could I even think of a favorite? Is there an ultimate? Traffic finally began to move, so I put the thought aside.

But then somewhere around Maalaea it hit me: I knew the answer!

When I was about seven years old, my aunt Mary took me to an upscale Pittsburgh department store that had a candy counter brimming with hand made items. Looking into the case, I saw these perfectly shaped tiny little fruits that weren’t really fruit. OMG, they were beautiful!   Lost in these miniature wonders, I thought I heard the crisply uniformed candy clerk calling my name.

“Marti Anne.”

Jumping back in alarm I responded, “What? I’m sorry!”

“Sorry?  Dear, I was just telling you they are marzipan. Those little candies are called marzipan.”

Relieved that I wasn’t being scolded, I stole a side eye glance at my aunt.

“Would you like to try one, honey?” the candy clerk lady asked, while handing me a tiny little apple, formed and colored to perfection, shading and all.   Aunt Mary gave an affirmative nod.

“Yes, thank you,“ I said while reaching for the delicacy. Carefully, slowly, I took a bite. Now I may not be remembering this accurately but I swear – a choir came out of the sky and beautiful harps began to play. Angels floated by and lifted me up onto a cloud.  It was the most heavenly bite I’d ever tasted in my life. Who knew that if you took blanched almonds and smooshed them together with a lot of sugar, it could taste like that?  Oh … my … goodness.

120107 Marzipan Fruit

Coming back to the present, I realized I was passing through Olowalu, and the radio reception would begin to improve. But that was fine because now I had a perfectly tweaked motto for this phase of my life:

If life gives you lemons, give ‘em back and ask for marzipan. And could you dip in it chocolate, please?

MW

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The rest of the story…

This whole blog made me crave marzipan something fierce.  Where, on a little island in the middle of the Pacific could I get some?  I decided to check the R Fields counter of Lahaina’s Foodland Farms, as they’re the closest thing we have to an upscale grocery store.  Yes, I know it’s not really upscale, but still. Anyway, I asked the lady at the counter if she happened to have any marzipan and she nearly demanded, “why are you asking me that??!!”  I tried to explain (thinking I was in trouble yet AGAIN because of this stuff) when she interrupted me to joyfully explain she is from the European town that is known for their superior marzipan and was so happy to be asked that.   European Candy Lady didn’t have any in stock, but within five minutes she had me hooked up with the R Fields counter in the brand new Foodland Farms, which she says “gets all the good stuff now.”  So here’s a picture of me from this past Friday, enjoying imported chocolate covered marzipan.  See?  I told you about this phase…

Marizan and Marti Anne

Marti Anne and Marzipan

All photos are “clickable” for a larger image

So a few weeks ago,  Sara Irene Smith tossed out a challenge to her social media partners in crime regarding Earth Day and her company’s product.  Sara is the founder of Wrappily, a company that advertises itself as offering “chic gift wrap with an eco-friendly twist.”  Oh, save me a couple hundred words by checking it out yourself here and then come back.

Did you?  Cool, yeah?  Anyway, back to the story…

She offered to send a supply of gift wrap to anyone who was willing to use it for a project and photograph the results, to be used in conjuction with Earth Day.

Of course I raised my cyber hand.

Now most normal people would receive the paper and use it in a nice gift-wrap kinda way.  But since I’m on this insane Mod Podge-ing cheap used furniture tangent,  so that’s what I decided to tackle.   She chose the design, so when I received my goodie bag, I had two designs to choose from: a green/blue abstract pattern and the one you’ll see in the following pictures.  I have to say – I loved the product, and immediately wanted to buy people presents, just so I could wrap them.  But back to the project …

Couldn’t find the right piece of furniture at Salvation Army so I decided to re-vamp my own little beat up particle board night stand.  I think I bought it as a do-it-yourself piece of furniture for my son’s first bedroom.  He turns 21 next month.  So….

MartiWrites "Wrappily Entertained" blog

It needed some help.

My bedroom is an odd assortment  of pinks and burgundies, so I figured I’d make this match.  First step: spray paint.

Second step: remember to not leave a heavy piece of particle board furniture on a flimsy plastic platform.  It fell over and took me forever to unstick all the grass from the side.  Yes, I swore a lot.

 

MartiWrites "Wrappily Entertained" blog entry

My first disaster

After painting all areas except the ones that I planned to cover with the Wrappily paper, I was ready to begin.  The paper – which has a different print on each side, btw – had soft creases, as gift wrap does.  For this project, I decided to iron the sheets, to smooth out the lines a bit.  Note: this is the opposite side, and also a very cool print.

Marti Wukelic MartiWrites "Wrappily Entertained" blog entry

Ironing the paper to give it a crisp feel

Normally I use a heavier paper, so this was challenging.  It’s newsprint, which is PERFECT for gift wrap but a little light for Mod Podge-ing.  But I’ve done it a lot so I made sure to give it plenty of drying time between coats.

 

Originally, my plan was to use the paper on the top, drawer front, and bottom skirt panel.  But when I did it, although I liked the look in general, I knew it would be too much for my room.  I simply have too many other crazy designs going on in there.

Marti Wukelic MartiWrites "Wrappily Entertained" blog entry

 

After walking around it in my living room for a couple of days, I finally decided to change the front panel to a solid burgundy:

Marti Wukelic MartiWrites "Wrappily Entertained" blog entry

I thought that worked a lot better in my room, so I’m glad I made the change.  The next step is always the most challenging for me … finding a drawer pull that I like.  I couldn’t find anything in Lahaina, and I really needed to get the darn thing out of my living room (remote controlling “around it” was an interesting gymnastic maneuver) so I reverted to a trick I used when I couldn’t find drawer pulls for my desk.  I raided my bead stash and came up with this, as a makeshift drawer pull:

Marti Wukelic martiwrites.com

Beaded Drawer Pull detail

 

Isn’t that cute?  I really like it.  Cautionary note about beads as drawer pulls – make sure that whatever material you use to string them is strong, and likewise for the method of fastening it.  I strung them on a hemp cord (hemp is nearly indestructible) and knotted it like a sailor on steroids, on the inside.

Well, I finally got it back where it belongs and here it is:

 

Marti Wukelic MartiWrites "Wrappily Entertained" blog entry

The finished product!

I still would like to do some sort of finishing around the top edges, where the particle board has gotten a little funky, but haven’t figured out what or how.  But I will.  In the meantime, I love my spiffy little updated nightstand, and am now happily a Wrappily customer forever.

Sorry, had to do the “happily Wrappily” thing.  Couldn’t resist.

Anyway … Mahalo, Sara.  That was fun!

I was a fourth grader, and had spent Sunday at my grandparents’ farm.  I didn’t care whether we left and got home BEFORE The Ed Sullivan Show started, or whether we watched it at Baba’s and left after.  All I knew was – my ten year old self just had to see what the hype was all about.

By this time, I already was aware of how influenced we could by our friends or the cumulative roll of public opinion.  I couldn’t articulate it in those terms, but it made me cautious.  Excited but cautious.  Like … all this hoopla could be a crock.

So I waited.  Ed did his introduction, calling them “youngsters from Liverpool.”  I remember that he pronounced their name funny – everyone else said it was though it was spelled Beadles, but he said it, either as Bea Tells or Bea’les,  I found that odd.

Girls screamed their way through the intro, while my parents and uncles cracked jokes.  The camera switched to the performing stage and there were the Beatles. Weird hair (for the times) combed forward, matching suits, looking pretty much like they did in photos we’d seen.  Okay, let’s see what this —

“one, two, three four…”

“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember I’ll always be true…”

From the first three words, I was transported.    Where?  I don’t know.  It wasn’t just that I developed an immediate crush on Paul. It was about the whole experience.  All these years later I still cannot explain it.  The best I can do is say this – some gut-deep part of me that I didn’t know existed was opened, awakened.  It was exciting.  Scary exciting.  We had laughed at the photos of British teens fainting in a state of hysteria but as I watched them, I understood.  As dramatic as this might seem to those who were not “there” – it was a true paradigm shift.

And the first of many such shifts, I have to say.  For the next six years, they did it over and over again.  Every Beatles album took us someplace new, someplace we hadn’t even imagined.  And the musical world followed.

As the band broke up, I continued to listen to them individually.  Loved Plastic Ono Band, thought All Things Must Pass was heaven. Switched loyalties among the four of them over the years (yes, Ringo, too), thought they all went on to great individual careers but I always missed the alchemy of “The Fab Four.” When I later learned what the word synergy meant, I understood it by thinking, “oh, like the Beatles.”  Alchemy, yes.  The universal elixir, turning base metals to gold.  That’s what it was.

In the past twenty years or so, younger friends have asked in in total earnestness:

“What was so great about the Beatles?”

When asked that, I pause.  I can tell them that everything they ever did, they were the first ones to do it.  I can site classics like Yesterday and rattle off a dozen tunes from the Lennon/McCartney song writing team.  I can point to George’s superior guitar skills, even at the young age of 22, or John’s cutting edge insights or Paul’s ability to know an audience.  But the truth is, I can’t explain it.

You had to be there.  You simply had to be there.

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I am from the mainland, a second generation American from Eastern European ancestry.  THAT is my background, my history.  My grandparents gave up everything they had and everyone they knew just for the privilege of living in America.  Never regretted it, never looked back.

I grew up in the same house for the first 18 years of my life before wanderlust got ahold of me.  I moved from a steel town in Ohio to Miami, Florida, back to another part of of Ohio, to Denver, Colorado, Napa, California, Los Angeles and finally – nearly 28 years ago – to Hawaii.  First to the Big Island, then to Maui.

Yes, like so many others, I came to Hawaii from somewhere else.  I am not Hawaiian, I don’t (to my knowledge) try to “be” Hawaiian.  At least I hope I haven’t turned into one of those.

Nevertheless, every January 17th, no matter how happy I am (and this is a very happy year thus far), I am overcome by a sadness.  The word sombre comes to mind.  On this day, 121 years ago, the government of my country, the land that my grandparents gave up everything for, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.  Why?  Basically because the Queen’s desire for a new constitution which would bring a balance of power (BALANCE, not absolute) back to the Hawaiians might be a little troublesome to the American businessmen’s long term plans of trade and commerce.  Seriously.  That’s why.  The Hawaiian Islands was a monarchical kingdom that the US, represented by a small handful of men, then “conquered” for our convenience and profitability.

Sound familiar?  On my more radical days, it feels like it’s happening right here again with the whole 1% vs. 99% thing.  Or maybe not.  I don’t really know.

But back to the point.  When I first came to Hawaii, this revelation about the overthrow confused and upset me, made me sort of uncomfortable, even embarrassed.  I’m not sure why; my people were getting stomped on in Europe while this all happened.  But it did.

Now it just makes me sad.

 

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After choosing to step down in order to save the lives of her people, this is the attitude of Hawaii’s exiled monach. If you want to learn about compassion, selflessness and class, read about Queen Lili’uokalani.

 

I see a lot of year’s end “letting go” posts as I scroll through my Facebook page and I decided this time I’m going in the opposite direction.  So last evening, a friend and I had a conversation that we called The Best of 2013. We casually and without a lot of direction compiled our own list of Favorites from this year that is ending.   Starting with the usual Favorite Movie, Favorite Song (I couldn’t come up with one) type stuff, we eventually wandered into increasingly more specific and ultimately more meaningful terrain.  Just a few of our 2013 Favorites were:

Favorite new toy

Favorite phone pic

Favorite Facebook post (neither of us really came up with one)

Favorite thing to wear

Favorite holiday experience

Favorite new friend

Favorite event

Favorite moment.

That last one gave us each pause.  What was my favorite moment in 2013?

The funny thing was, it came to me instantly.  In a year that held a million wonderful memories during a great mainland vacation, my favorite moment took place only one island away.  I was at a restaurant with a friend, listening to a jazz trio after a killer great meal.    The lead guy invited his niece up to sing “When Sunny Gets Blue,” one of my all-time favorite songs and I was so happy.  Could this night possibly get any better?  She took the mic, opened her mouth and … totally SUCKED.  We were about five feet away from the band and I tried my damnedest to keep a straight face.  It took a great evening and made it absolutely perfect.

Now the memory is a little bittersweet, as the past is – well – the past.  So what’s the takeaway?  What, from that moment (as well as the other Favorites)  do I take with me into 2014?  I guess it would be along the lines of:  Be present.  Surround myself with the people and environment that I truly enjoy.  Allow myself to feel that all is right in my world.  And above all – don’t take any of it TOO seriously.

Wishing you the same in 2014.  And hoping you get to bring your “favorites” along for the ride…

xo,

Marti

Okay, Christmas..

For years I’ve tried to distill the meaning of Christmas into its essence, into something that doesn’t divide us, but instead offers something we can all relate to. And for me, it comes down to one concept:

Hope.

There the world was, a few thousand years ago, in the middle of political unrest, caught between a burgeoning economy and an expanding empire that utilized an increasingly brutal use of coercion to maintain that empire. In other words, things were kind of a mess.

In the middle of all this, a child was humbly born who would, as a young man, try to explain that rather than brute force and politics, the better (and frankly, more practical) route would be love and compassion. And to top it off, he tried to explain that every one of us carried the potential for those traits – love and compassion – within us. Really? Dang!

Hope.

Things are a little dark out there this year (arguing over whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Really?) but for me, a good focus for this time of year is to believe that he was right – that love and compassion do, in fact, exist within us all.

My wish for us all (myself included, lol) is that we are able to access those traits within ourselves.

Hope. Now THAT’s a gift.

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