So This Thing Happened …

I moved to Lahaina, Maui from Hana, Maui about seven years ago and it took awhile to adjust. Like, maybe six years to adjust?  Hana is a very down-to-earth, very Hawaiian “local” kind of community where I lived for twenty years. But Lahaina is full of hotels, restaurants and luxuries like fully stocked grocery stores that are open later than 7pm and even a movie theatre.  It also is full of mainland visitors and the recently moved.

What I noticed right away was that people treated me differently than I was used to being treated.  They were polite, of course, but there was something missing.  In fact, there was one grocery store checker that really kind of bothered me. She was courteous and efficient, but not really “there.”  Then it struck me.  She treated me like a …

… tourist.

I didn’t consciously think about it, but under the surface, it bugged me.  I wanted to pull out my “Twenty Years in Hana” hat or fake pidgin street cred and say, “Hey, I’ve lived here half my life!”  But of course, I didn’t.

Nevertheless, I began to behave a little differently whenevah I went to da stoh.  (see how I did that, there?  Yeah, that’s what I’d do).  For some crazy reason, I wanted her to know that I wasn’t a tourist or recent transplant.  There are a hundred different ways in which that’s a messed up attitude, but the one that fits my current train of thought is simply:

I had an agenda.

I wanted her to see me in a certain way.  Odd, yes?

Once I understood that, it was easy to let go of it. Pouf! Gone!

But it got me to thinking … do I have agendas when dealing with other people?  Think in terms of the phrase hidden agenda for this to make sense. It’s when you do something that seems one way at face value, but under the surface, you actually want something specific from a person.  Some common, relatively benign social ‘hidden agendas’ are:  Do I want this person to like me?  To do something for me? To think I’m smart? Or cool?  Do I want them to adopt a certain opinion?     And yes – I sheepishly admitted to myself – I often have those agendas, without even realizing it.

It was one of those “moment of truth” times, where we fluctuate between patting ourselves on the back for being so self-honest and wondering why it is necessary to always be so damn deep.  Okay, maybe I’m the only one who fluctuates thusly.

Anyway, the point is…

I spent the next year or so honestly examining my motives when dealing with others.  I mean, yes – we like to be liked.  But no, I’m not running for Prom Queen.

At this point, those of you who have known me for a long time are probably thinking, “When in the hell did ‘what people think‘ ever stop her from saying what’s on her mind?”  So I will qualify it by saying – this wasn’t a HUGE issue; it was just a little quirk that had gone previously unnoticed.

These days, I’ve hit a good balance.  Life is good so I’m happy, and “happy” leads to kindness.  But on the other hand, I’m technically a senior citizen, so regarding most opinions of me (or anything, actually), I really don’t give a shit.  Really.  I don’t.  [Young people take note: This actually makes getting older worth it.]

What brought this one?  The other day I saw a notepad thing with AGENDA as the heading, but someone had scrawled

I have no agenda!  across the page.  And I decided it was a sign.

So I am going to dust off my “no agenda” agenda and make sure that it’s still valid.  “Being Present” – I think that’s what the kids are calling it these days.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Oh and an anecdote:
A few years ago that grocery store checker needed some college advice and – even though I was only my regular, no frills Marti, the Haole College Lady self – she now calls me Aunty.

Funny how that works.

heh

heh

In 2007, a young college student named Michael from an online writers’ site told Lori and me about something called Facebook.  We each promptly opened a profile, designated either other and Michael as our “friends” and -for me- it stayed that way for the next couple of years.  Those were the My Space days and, since I lived in a beautiful yet very remote part of Maui, the early days of social media really appealed to me.  It gave me a little mainland fix.

Fast forward a bit.  My Space, which was quite a nice little thing, was eclipsed by Facebook and began to wither away, due to a sudden lack of nourishment and has been on life support ever since.

Since then we’ve learned to tweet and snap and make circles and lord only knows what else. Apparently we are not into cockney accents here in cyberspace, as the occasional “Ello” only echoes through empty halls.

But then there’s Facebook…. the enduring (though not particularly endearing) Facebook.  Why are we all still there?  Lord knows, we grumble about it enough.

I think the reason is  that there’s an accrued investment factor.  Friends, families, grandmothers, exes, co-workers, non-real-life friends that we’ve gathered up over the past decade … have almost all wandered over by now and it’s so easy to have one access point for all these people.  Except for that one word: Almost.  They’re ALMOST all there.  And now the point is starting to come into focus for me.  (I don’t pre-write or plan what I’m going to say – welcome to the circuitous pattern of Marti’s Thinking Process)

ALL of my friends are not on Facebook.  In fact, one of the few people on this planet who holds the title of Marti’s BFF Forever is not and has no plans to be.  And there are others.  A friend who I see weekly and socialize with occasionally is not.  Email, text – yes.  Facebook – no.  I’m continually surprised when he isn’t aware of something that is happening and then remember … oh, he’s not on FACEBOOK.  And one of my favorite aunts?  No FB, no computer.  I actually have to call her on the PHONE.  Yes, it makes calls, I am reminded.

So…

Put these musings together with the fact that I am savoring a reclusive, crotchety phase where I find social media annoying as hell (yes I KNOW what your political opinions are and I knew them throughout the last fifty memes) and simply want to cut down on the inner and outer NOISE in my life and voila … the No Facebook week was born.

How was it?  Well, to be honest – I only made it through five days.  In the beginning, I did log on a couple of times, but didn’t much care and logged out after reading just a few things.  Mostly I only wanted to make the little red numbers go away. So it was easy. But what made me go back to FB last night, two days earlier than planned?  Well. I was home alone, watching an old Criminal Minds.  (To toss in my usual digression – I’d never seen the procedural FBI drama until a couple of months ago, when I began to Netflix it from the beginning. Since then, it’s about all I watch.  Sort of the TV watching version of eating only PB&J sandwiches for a week.)  But anyway… They start and end each episode with a pithy quote that is designed to make the viewer say, “OH MY GOODNESS, YES. HOW RELEVANT AND PROFOUND!”  And I admit with slight embarrassment, that’s usually exactly what happens.  And the closing quote last night was a MUST SHARE.  So I did.  On Facebook, automatically.

Here’s what struck me as the interesting part:  I posted because I had something to share and no one immediately present to share it with.  Does that mean I wanted someone here, in my house, to tell it to?  Oh hell no.  It was a long, people-intense day and right now my little house feels like my own private sanctuary.  BUT … I find it interesting that it was my need to communicate OUT that caused me to automatically log on and share the quote.  And that – I think – is sort of the point.  That, and the whole idea of social media being a double edged sword.    Now I have very strong opinions about both of those concepts, but I’ll stop here and let you think about them on your own. And yes, I know this ALSO means I should probably lay off Criminal Minds for a bit.   And – as always – feel free to comment.  ;- heh.

Marti

Matthew Gray Gubler as Spencer Reid

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Around January 3rd-ish, my goal was to try to post a weekly blog.  I blinked and it was February and I thought, “Okay, monthly then.”  One-third of the way closer to March and I ask myself, “So … you got a plan C in there somewhere?”  In the past six weeks I’ve had at least ten blog ideas that pop into my head while driving, standing in line at Safeway or in the shower (never mind that one), but they’re only one short thought that has to be fleshed out in order to become a REAL BLOG POST.  Hence, plan C: Short, one thought, shallow blog posts.  Case in point:

Long Hair

Right now my hair is longer than it’s been since Denver in the 1970’s  When wet, my hair goes about an inch and a half past my shoulders, so it’s actually just longish.  And why do I say “when wet?”  Well, as every curly-haired person knows, only wet hair is measured by length. Dry hair is measured by width.  To whine further- when you have a long neck, it takes FOREVER for the length get down there far enough to officially register as Long Hair. But I digress…

Longish hair takes some getting used to.  First of all, when getting dressed it gets caught under my bra strap and I never figure that out until I’m fully clothed and have to fiddle around with where it is and how to unleash it.  Same principle for trying to turn my head while driving or when leaning back in my office chair.  The worst, though, is when I wear something sleeveless. A fast turn to the right and I am immediately startled by whatever or whomever gave me such a light touch on my left shoulder.  And then I remember: Oh.  Right.  It’s the hair.

But the negatives of longish hair are far outweighed by one major advantage: I can toss the whole thing into a maintenance-free ponytail and forget about it all.  Unless I’m driving, or sitting in a high back chair, that is. [Picture someone seated with her head pitched two inches forward] Then it’s low pony all the way.

Yeah, this was a pretty pointless blog.  But that’s how we’re gonna roll this year.

This illustrates the flat iron magic of Salon Bella Maui’s Kim Willits. Six times a year, I have “normal human” hair.

wizardofoz5740

The Wizard of Oz was released by MGM in 1939, with music by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. I know every lyric of every song, and more of the spoken dialog than I’ll admit in public.  “Optimistic Voices” is the name of the short piece that plays when the gang first sees the Emerald City in the distance, and may be my favorite part of my favorite movie.  I love the 1930s style of the tune, and also get a kick out of Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow) looking around puzzled, as though he’s thinking, “Hey, where’s that music coming from?”  Just a tiny throwaway bit, but fun.

But it’s hard to understand the lyrics as sung by the choir in the flick. As many times as I’ve seen that movie (don’t even ask), I didn’t really know what they were singing until someone brought it to my attention a few years ago.  Harburg wrote the lyrics as a sort of as a “code” to an America which had just crawled out of an economic depression and a war. In an effort to find a clip that didn’t have an ad longer than the song, I found something really cool. The audio portion of the first link is actually Arlen and Harburg singing it in rehearsal for the choir to get a feel for it. How cool is that? Nevertheless, my main point of posting this is for the lyrics. Aren’t they great? So very simple…

Here’s the Arlen Harbug clip:
Optimistic Voices Rehearsal

And if you aren’t a movie trivia geek like me, here’s the actual scene from the movie:
Optimistic Voices Choir from the Wizard of Oz

And here are the lyrics.  If you’re still with me, I recommend opening the second clip and reading along while they sing ’em:

You’re out of the woods
You’re out of the dark
You’re out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light

Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the face of the earth or the sky
Hold onto your breath
Hold onto your heart
Hold onto your hope
March up to the gate and bid it open

You’re out of the woods
You’re out of the dark
You’re out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
March up to the gate and bid it open, open…

Wishing you all – individually and collectively – sun, light, hope, open gates and glorious places in 2015 and beyond…
xo,
Marti

From the Marti’s Theory archives.  Wrote this about eight years ago, but I like it.  So here it is again. Yes, all true

I can’t believe what I just did. I also don’t really know what happened. It was like the middle of a CSI scene, with the agent standing there, trying to understand the sequence of events or root cause.

It started with a bowl of chopped turnip greens.

Let me try to recreate the scene of the crime for you:

I was in the middle of about three tasks (red flag #1) – computering, cooking, unpacking. Had forgotten to eat lunch, (red flag #2) or go to the store, so I was tossing together whatever I could find in my freezer and trying to just nuke it all.

The next part happenend within a timeframe of about five seconds, so I’m still trying to understand it–

The microwave beeped as I was walking back into the room. As I reached for the door, I heard the chime that I get when there’s an I M message, so of course that diverted my attention (red flag #3). Instead of walking to the other side of the room to get the potholder (MAJOR red flag #4 here) I figured, oh heck, I’ll just sort of dance the container over to the countertop, changing fingertips en route.

Big mistake.

As (and picture this in slo-mo, for the right effect) I grabbed the container with one hand and tried to deal with the loose lid with the other (yeah, I KNOW- red flag #5) it was hotter than I anticipated, so it decided to sort of fling itself across my kitchen, releasing a torrent of green shit along the way.

But my kitchen–
I swear, it looked like someone tried to bless my house with chopped turnip greens.

Let me try to trace the spatter trail for you–
Out of the microwave, onto the scanner.
Across my NEW package of just opened computer paper, down INTO my stash of Diet Dr Pepper (yes, in the nooks and crannies of the plastic thing that holds them together). Across the floor, onto the fridge, all over the stuff magnetted to the fridge (including my brand new souvenier magnet ), UNDER the fridge, into my coffee pot, until finally landing neatly in the sink. (Now THAT was magnificent – just stood there with a silent “wow…” when I saw that. Not sure but I think I saw my dog hold up a little sign with a 9.5 on it)

Oh yeah, and did I mention that my Living Room and Kitchen are all one big room? So yes, the open suitcase that I was unpacking got blessed as well.

I’ll tell ya…
I think I topped myself this time. In fact it was almost as bad as the time I accidentally dumped a pound of coffee INTO my bookcase. (Think about that one for a minute. Let it digest.)

Am I the only one who does things like this? Is this really my life, or did I get trapped in some I Love Lucy time warp continuum?

Please tell me you do stupid shit, too.

And if you don’t, then lie.

Not me.

Not me.

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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


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  • ronmitchelladventure: Truth be told, I wanted to ask, "Can we touch with anything we want?" Decided not to ask, as sometimes a sick sense of humor falls flat. Plus, I was c
  • martiwrites: On one hand, I actually facilitated those training classes for years. On the other hand, I'm a Serb living in the land of aloha. Double whammy and h
  • ronmitchelladventure: As a manager, I refrained from my cultural hug and kiss on the cheek greeting after attending sexual harassment training for managers. We learned that