Sunday, July 28, 2013


“How’s the bathroom?”
Ian shrugs, “The usual.”
I nod. Why the hell doesn’t Hawaii clean its public restrooms? It’s Paradise in every other way, but the bathrooms?
I rise from my shady view of the lovely sea, snorkelers dotting the surface, the clouds floating over the blue grey sky. I do need to use the restroom, but…..
Sighing, I venture over.
Poke my head in first, the dark, dank, sandy, cave of the public elimination situation.
It is unusable.
Now. I know I’m a bit squeamish, but hell, I did travel and live in China. I think I’m pretty tough when it comes to bathrooms, but….today?
I simply can’t.
I will spare my more squeamish readers the terrifying details.
Use your imagination.
Or not.

“I can’t use this bathroom,” I announce.
“That’s too bad,” Ian points to the sea, “it looks like there’s a lot going on out there. It’d be nice to swim here.”
We’re up past Sunset Beach, at Pupukea beach, in Oahu's North Shore area. The sea is calm in the summer and I long to dive in; however, my wretched bladder calls and sure I could go in the sea but….
No I can’t.

So back in the car heading down Kamehameha highway to Kaneohe again.
We spy the sweet beaches along the way, jammed with dome tents and families and barbeques and suspect bathrooms.
Where oh where will we find a bathroom for me?
Then I spot it.
Atop a grassy hillside amidst a grove of graceful palms.
“What about that one?” I exclaim.
“You think that one will work?” Ian asks.
“I think so.” At this point it has to as Ian does a cab driver U turn and we head back to the parking lot. Leaping out of the car, I head up the little hill and into the cement block housing the bathroom.
No one there. No grossiosity.
I am relieved!

Okay, okay, I know this preamble is a bit much but it’s a big part of my travel experience—finding suitable bathrooms. So when I do, well…it’s such a beautiful thing.
And to top it off—the beach here…..
It is astonishing.
Sandy white slopes of shade under swaying palms. Not too crowded, but with the usual families boogie boarding. Mostly locals which is a good thing.
"WARNING. NO LIFEGUARD. SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK" the signanage announces.
Perfect, I think.
“It looks a bit rough,” Ian remarks.
“Nah, it’s okay,” I grin, “let’s stay here and swim!”
And we do.

I don my bright pink suit and then cover up head to toe in my anti-sun suit.
Then wasting no time, I dive in.
Oh how delicious! The water is a balmy 80 plus degrees. The waves are small and fun. I body surf the first one.
Racing down the side of the little wave, I’m exhilarated. I forgot how much I love to swim in the ocean. It’s just the best.
And to top it off.
The sky.
There’s a shower approaching. I can see it in the distance as I bob up and down over the waves.
And is that a rainbow?

Only in Paradise would you have the combination of the perfect water temperature, wave action and a rainbow on the horizon.
Will it come my way?
I dive under another wave. It’s too wonderful to be in this water with a rainbow on the way.
And when it arrives?
Of course, it’s not a rainbow anymore, but a delightful shower of warm raindrops falling on my head, my face, my back.
Ian jumps in now and we crack up together.
This is the best! The rain comes down harder in sharp little pellets. I laugh like I haven’t since the last time I swam in the rain in Hawaii. I think of my student who has the picture of the delirious swimmer in the rain floating in the sea of Chile. “I’ll think of you, Alyssa, when I swim in the rain in Hawaii,” I told her the last time we spoke.
She’d laughed, “That’d be so awesome!”

And I did think of her, working so hard on her writing, creating a book that she will be proud of. I know it. But still so frustrated and defeated when last I spoke with her.
Yet when I’d mentioned my trip to paradise and how I’d think of her when swimming in the sea rain, she’d brightened immediately.
The Sea Rain has the power to transform.

In the moment and in the distance and in the imagination.

And thanks to the bathroom gods who guided me to this enchanting beach below the north shore of Oahu….

Sunday, July 07, 2013


“Is That yours?” P nods toward the mysterious orange lotion in the shadows. She had noticed it when Retrieval Woman had left the sauna. The bottle was enticing. P likes to steal product left behind at the gym even though this goes against the Y’s Core Values. Maybe because it’s against these values?

No, P just likes free stuff. So she’d been eying the orange lotion when RW had reentered the sauna and claimed her elixir.

Laughing softly, RW shakes her head, a strong accent (Russian? Czech? Something Eastern European?) accompanying her embarrassed reply. “Yes, it is mine. I have it for my Fat Stomach.” She giggles strangely. “It gets fatter everyday. I eat a lot of bread and.....”

Her voice trails off as P nods, wondering how the Orange Lotion fits in with Bread Overindulgence.

“Do you swim?” P asks, knowing that she doesn’t but it seems like a good topic to bring up in light of the Fat Stomach Situation.

RW shakes her head, “Oh, no. I do not swim.”

“That’s too bad,” P replies, though secretly she’s relieved. The pool definitely doesn’t need any more swimmers to fill its Aqua Mayhem this summer.

“I use the Lotion on my Fat Stomach and it does help I think,” she continues.

P eyes her in the dark. A white Y issued towel covers her ‘Fat Stomach’; her bleached blonde hair hangs in curly waves round her pale face; her eyes are moist and round. RW seems on the Verge of something and P isn’t really in the mood, yet she feels for her and her Fat Stomach that keeps growing (even though P has no idea what this would be like—all that swimming keeps her stomach at bay)

What could be in the Orange Lotion that could make the Fat Stomach go away? Are there such Miracle Cures for eating too much bread? How does it work? Does one rub it on the stomach and then watch the fat disappear? Does the sauna’s heat help to fortify this process?

P has never heard of such a thing. A lotion that melts away stomach fat. She’s intensely curious, but there’s something delicate about RW. She seems like she’s ready to cry.
P isn’t in the mood for crying. So, she hesitates in her fact-finding questioning.

“I have a surgery 3 months ago,” RW announces.
“Oh?” P nods, wondering what this has to do with anything.
“And since this surgery, my stomach it keep on growing and growing.” She giggles, shyly, embarrassed? “But I do like to eat a lot of bread. This is why my stomach is fatter and fatter....”

P remembers a friend who had a similar stomach issue and thought the growing was due to too much gluten. Her stomach just kept growing and growing and getting bigger and bigger till finally she went to the doctor and it turned out she had a cyst the size of a football inside her uterus.

Damn. P wonders if RW has the same situation? But she said she’d had a surgery, so...Should she mention the Cyst Possibility?

She opts for vagueness: “I hope it’s not something more serious?”

RW sighs, “No, I had the surgery. I am OK. I just eat too much bread.”

P wants to witness the miracle of the Fat Eating Orange Miracle lotion but decides against a request for such a demonstration. She’s curious, but squeamish. What if the lotion bubbles off her stomach in weird little fat globules?

P wouldn’t be able to handle that.

“Well, I hope that your stomach improves,” P offers.

RW smiles shyly. Shakes her head sadly. Is it that hopeless?

Suddenly the day catches up with P and she has to leave the sauna pronto. She needs to get home and eat something. She thinks she has some bread in the freezer. She’ll defrost it. Devour it. Watch the Young and the Restless.
And be glad that she doesn’t have to worry about a Mysteriously Expanding Stomach..... Esp. since she wasn't able to steal That Miracle Orange Elixir.

Mad as Hell!

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” Remember that line? Remember that movie? Network , right? What was everyone so ma...