When I was very young, I believed in ghosts. I don’t remember what I thought they were or why they were scary, but I was scared of them. When I would have a bad dream in the middle of the night, I wanted to run to my parents’ bed for comfort. I made it only a little past my bedroom door. Then I stopped. Because between me and the door of my parents’ room was the hallway. I had to pass across the hallway to get to their room. And down that hallway was a ghost. I just knew it. There was a ghost hiding in the dark just a little past my view, and if I ran across and exposed myself for even the short second it would take to get to mom and dad’s bedroom door, it would get me. I don’t remember what I thought it would do to me if it got me, but it would get me and that was a frightening prospect. Many a night, I teetered at the edge of the hallway wall, trying to force myself to run across. Many a night I sadly turned around and went back to bed alone. I was not brave enough to go anywhere near a ghost.

There were other places in the house a ghost would hide. My parents’ bathroom, with the only shower in the house, was at the end of their long closet in their bedroom. Guess what was on the other side of the closet? A wall. Guess what that created? A very very short hallway. Ghosts like hallways.

The door to the bathroom was a sliding wood door. I would close the door to take my shower at night. I would open the small window in the bathroom to vent the steam. When I got into the shower, the ghost would rattle the door. I was terrified. I was completely vulnerable, alone in the shower.  There was nothing I could do. The next time I took a shower, I tried locking the door. The ghost rattled the door. The next time I took a shower, I pushed that sliding door as hard as I could, pushed with all my might to close it tight, and I locked the door. The ghost still rattled the door. The door rattled at some point in the middle of my shower when I was just starting to get comfortable and feeling a little bit brave, scaring me out of the shower, with or without shampoo in my hair, to grab my towel and yell at it that I was there and I knew it was there and I was leaving now so it could get across the bathroom and out the window. Because that is what I figured out it wanted to do. Go out the window.

This routine went on for a little bit. It made me scared and sad. But you know what? You can only be scared and super sad for so long. It’s exhausting. It makes you want to change your behavior to avoid the thing that is making you scared and sad. But what could I do? Whether or not I explained the ghost, my parents were still going to insist I take a shower at night. And, except for the part about being so scared my flight instinct kicked in, I wanted to take a shower. But really, I didn’t want to take a shower. I was too scared. I was in a quandary. I had to shower. The ghost was not going away. But there had to be another solution besides long-term angst. So, I thought of one.

I took my towel into the bathroom. I opened the window. I went to the sliding door. I closed it most of way. I left a small space between the door and the door jamb. And I tried to make friends with my ghost.

I told the ghost we could make a deal. Instead of trying to keep the door shut tight to close it out completely, I would leave the door open a little to let the ghost in. But if I did this, then the ghost must just race across the bathroom, leave me alone, and go straight out the window. The ghost could go about its business. I could finish my shower. It would stop rattling the door. I would be able to relax and rinse shampoo out of my hair. And it worked. The ghost was still a ghost and it was still there, but we had a tenuous friendship. The door stopped rattling. I showered in relative peace.

There are some ghosts that will not go away. There are some scars that will not heal. There are things that cannot be avoided, things that cannot be forgotten, things that cannot be done, and things that cannot be undone. These are our ghosts. If we are to continue to live with them and still live our own lives to the fullest, it would serve us best to make friends with our ghosts. Or, at the very least, make a deal with them to allow them to coexist with us and pass by us, but not rattle us. Not scare us. Not hurt us, not cause us to alter our own course of life to avoid them. There are ways to do this. Sometimes, ghosts are more accommodating than we give them credit for. Sometimes, if we stop trying to close the door on them and shut them out completely, thereby causing them to rattle more loudly than we ever imagined, we can learn to acknowledge them and give them what they really want. Not us. They don’t want us. They want to go along their own path. They want their own freedom. And none of us can help it that our paths just happen to cross. We don’t have to best friends. But we can learn to be peaceful friends.

What are your ghosts? Can you find a path of peaceful coexistence?

Writers gotta write

My work laptop blinks at me. It stares. It glares.

I hide in the glow of my home laptop. I avert my gaze. I search for answers in Pandora.

Today, I put what looked like a blank CD in my player in the car, driving back to the office after an early-morning project meeting.

Blank is deceptive.

Nothing is really empty. Nothing is really blank. Blank paper is potential, is it not? The blank CD? Not so. It was one of my “D” playlists (see: (someday) “Sandman playlists”). Which Sandman sibling?

The appropriate one. Doesn’t the appropriate one always appear? 

Not really. Some of them like to try to shove their way into every situation. Why do I smile when I think how inappropriately they behave sometimes? 

Maybe because that’s what life gives you more often than not. The Endless sibling you least want to see. And then it laughs, grabs some Chex mix, and sits back to watch.

So, what happened when my playlist played today, of all things, *my* song? I wanted to speak. For some of us, that translates to “write.”

Why worry about the things that keep me from my blog (my poor, neglected little space here)? Why worry about taking time away from my technical writing? Why worry about garnering attention? Why worry about going unnoticed? Is not writing for the sake of writing good enough?

Why am I writing so ambiguously?

How do you catch a wave upon the sand?

I’ve been wanting to reignite my blog for a while. It is true that I rarely have brain power after work and after caring for home and family to articulate all the things that run through my brain. It’s also true that a lot of what runs through my brain these days is triggered by local and world events around me, and that train of thought somehow inevitably leads to musings of an opinionated matter. But why should I worry about sharing such musings here? This is my space. My blog. Musings of a cynical optimist. Writers have quiet courage. Or, we should, shouldn’t we?  Some have loud, seemingly fearless courage. Some, not so much.

But what do we all have?

We have words. We have words. What are your words?


Still looking for time to blog. I have motivation these days. Until then, will have to just repost my latest musing:

In the quiet of my nights, between 2-year old “tuck tucks”, spousal good-nights, and 8-month old early-a.m. cries, I spend a part of my “alone” time praying. Between work deadlines, familial heath concerns, and some sort of mid-life-crisis-level fear of death, it’s often hard for me to hear answers these days. But life is not always about answers. It’s about the dialogue we share, the fears we admit, the failings we face. It’s about the strength we share, the joy we find, the truth we seek, and the integrity we hold. May we all hold each other up as we seek our own answers. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a universe to keep us “old folks” from falling down.

Stagnant Again

Hmmmm…..the blog is getting a little musty. 

Should I continue with this blog, or start anew? Either way, it’s time to blog again. 

Snorkel Trips in Maui

[Note: This is a reprint from my August 2008 post]

I’ve been wanting to do a quick review of snorkel tours on Maui.  Now, I am combining it with my latest beach snorkeling experience. 

Beach Snorkeling

Sweetie and I went snorkeling a couple of weeks ago.  Finally!  We are such home bodies, you might almost never guess we live in a tropical paradise with year-round sun and warmth.  But after I raved about how wonderful the snorkeling was at Tunnels Beach in Kauai, Sweetie said “Well, let’s go out one day in Maui.”  So we did.  He took me to a few places I had not been to before.  We drove south past Kihei and Wailea to Makena and got into the water at Five Graves.  This is a place to snorkel, not to lay around.  It is very rocky and we were lucky that there was almost no surf.  We were able to get in and out of the water easily.  This is a good dive spot, from what I have read.  The snorkeling was good and we were close to Turtle Town (see a sea turtle say hello over HERE).    We didn’t see any turtles and were heading back to shore when we passed another snorkeler.  He said “Did you see the turtle?” and pointed us back out.  Sweetie scouted around a little and lo and behold, he found the turtle.  I found another one, but they weren’t swimming around too much.  Just hanging around the sand below us. But I love spotting the turtles!

We drove south again towards the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve Area and Waiala Cove.  We snorkeled from Waiala Cove.  In my opinion, you have to be a little careful snorkeling from here.  The water is very very shallow.  This means, in order to not touch the coral, you have to stay floating on your stomach as soon as you get into the water.  You have to swim out a little bit before you can tread water without hitting the coral.  Of course, people will just stand up, adjust their masks, hug each other (a couple I saw), wave to family members, etc. etc.  But you should not do this unless you can find sand to step on and avoid the coral.  Check out some coral reef etiquette guidelines HERE.  That’s another reason I liked Tunnels Beach so much.  Lots of sand around the coral.  When I was ready to get out of the water at Waiala, I had to belly paddle all the way up to a little strip of concrete that jutted out into the water.  Of course, I was being so careful of the coral, I totally forgot about the waves behind me.  Luckily, Sweetie was already out of the water and ran over to haul me out of the water as I tried to crawl from my knees to my feet without being smooshed by a wave. 

Finally, we kept driving south just to take a look at La Perouse Bay.  Pretty, but I don’t know that I would try snorkeling here.  There is much less protection from the surf.  So, unless you come on a very windless day, the surf could make the water too murky. 

Note:  Just this week, the Department of Land and Natural Resources has closed off a large portion of the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve.  You can still drive to La Perouse Bay but you cannot walk around the lava rock for the next two years (until July 31, 2010).  For those of you who have heard about the lava-rock trails to snorkeling sites like the Aquarium and the Fishbowl, you can no longer legally walk there.  Waiala Cove and areas north of the cove will still be open.  You can read the news article HERE.

Snorkel Tours

During the last couple of years and visits with friends and family here on Maui, I have paid for a few different snorkeling trips.  I have gone out snorkeling with the Pacific Whale Foundation, Gemini Sailing Charters, and Maui Classic Charters.  You can follow the links below to any of those websites.

Here is my basic statement on Maui snorkeling:  It all depends on the weather. 

You should be aware, whenever you plan a snorkel trip on Maui, that it can rain any day of the year and it can be windy any day of the year.  OK, some seasons are better than others.  Taking my mom out snorkeling in February probably was not the best time.  But there are no guarantees for calm seas and clear water.  You just have to take your chances.  That being said, the best time of day to snorkel is in the morning.  As early as possible before the winds kick up.  You may see that many snorkel tours have a morning snorkel and an afternoon snorkel.  Often, the morning snorkel is more expensive.  There is good reason for this.  Once the winds pick up around Molokini or anywhere offshore, the water becomes more murky, the fish scatter away, and it is harder to get back into a boat that is bobbing like mad in the water.  Having taken an afternoon snorkel tour, I would now always advise to pony up the extra money and go for the morning trip. 

If you go during whale season (roughly December to April), you get the added bonus of seeing whales on the trips in and out.  This is no small bonus.  It is quite a treat to see the whales close up.  If you come during whale season and just want to go on a whale watching trip, I think you can do fine with the cheapest trips.  There are sooooo many whales during the height of whale season, you can’t miss them. 

After that, there are not TOO many differences between the tours.  They all offer good, basic snorkel trips.  They all provide the gear, including some prescription masks.  They all have friendly staff.  There are really only a few differences.  Here are my rundowns, based on my trips.

Gemini Charters (http://www.geminicharters.com/).  They depart from Ka’anapali Beach .

This is Sweetie’s favorite group to snorkel with.  A little more expensive, but good. 

Good Stuff: 

  • ·        They use a catamaran, and it is quite fun to zip out on the water in a smaller boat where you can sit out on the trampoline nets and feel the spray wash over you.
  • ·        They travel to Honolua Bay, which Sweetie says is better snorkeling than Molokini.
  • ·        The BEST food I’ve eaten snorkeling.  Really yummy food.  You know how I like food.  I must have gone back to the buffet three times.
  • ·        The catamaran has steps that drop down straight into the water.  Easier to climb back onto the boat while snorkeling. 

Not so great: 

  • o   They are more expensive.
  • o   If you can’t go to Honolua Bay because of the weather, the alternative spots aren’t that great.  They don’t go to Molokini.  I was disappointed going in March because it was too windy to go up to Honolua Bay.  That’s why I paid more money.  We ended up traveling up and down the West Maui coast looking for a spot to drop anchor.  But, as I said, there are no guarantees. 

Maui Classic Charters (http://www.mauicharters.com/).  They depart from Maalaea Harbor. 

Good Stuff: 

  • ·        They offer a decent, basic snorkel trip out to Molokini.
  • ·        They have a slide on the boat.  Nothing big.  A tiny slide they bolt into place on the side of the boat.  But the kids/teens on the boat really seemed to enjoy it.
  • ·        Less expensive than Gemini or Trilogy (another popular group with catamarans)

Not so great:

  • o   They claim their BBQ is superb.  I didn’t think it was anything special.  But, to give them credit, my opinion may be tainted by a small bout of sea-sickness due to the choppy waters. 
  • o   Harder to get in and out of the boat using the platforms on the back of the boat.  In calms water, it would be fine – there are staff folks there to haul you on board.  But it was really choppy when Mom and I went out and we had to wait for one woman who was having a very very hard time getting back on the boat.  I had a brief moment of panic myself as I floundered in the big waves. 

Pacific Whale Foundation (http://www.pacificwhale.org/).  They depart from Maalaea Harbor.

Good Stuff:

  • ·        Once again, a good basic snorkel trip.
  • ·        Probably the most knowledgeable naturalists on board during whale season.  I had the best whale viewing while on the Pacific Whale Foundation boat. 

Not so Great

  • o   These trips can get crowded.  The Pacific Whale Foundation boat is much larger than the Gemini catamarans.  So, you are snorkeling with a much bigger crowd of people.
  • o   Food was ok.

That’s about it for my reviews.  If I think of anything else, I’ll add it in.  In my opinion, if you want to enjoy some basic snorkeling on Maui, rent some gear, get up early in the morning, and go to a beach with some coral around.  If you hit it on the right day, you can see plenty of fish right off the shore.  If you want the full vacationy feel of a trip, with food and sun and sailing (though most don’t actually sail), splurge and take a guided tour.  I found on most of my trips, when I wasn’t feeling seasick, the boat rides around Maui are as enjoyable as the snorkeling.  Some of my pictures from February are over HERE.  The catamaran trip was almost worth the price itself.  And did I mention the yummy food???

Deja vu all over again.  I was looking back at the last few blogs I wrote – oh so long ago.  And from July 2011:

I sat in front of my computer after a long 12+ hour work day, after listening to some insightful questions from my sweet nephew about how many hours I work everyday and how often I work this late, after eating some warmed over canned chili with much too much sharp cheddar cheese, after daydreaming about welcoming Sweetie back home on Saturday after his long work trip away from home, after taking my blood pressure and marveling at the startling increase in numerals from my blood pressure reading last night……….and I sat in front of my computer and switched on my iTunes and asked my music “What do I want to listen to right now?”

And I have to laugh because tonight (March 2012) I was feeling wiped and slightly demotivated after working a 12+ hour workday (which is short these days), eating microwaved pizza that I missed eating with my nephews because I was working too late, wishing fervently that Sweetie was home already from his week-long work trip away, and marking a noticeable increase in my blood pressure from my February reading. Yes, that’s how my evening went tonight.  So, I thought “Might as well.”  I opened iTunes, turned on shuffle and hit play. 

And my music replied:

Sad and Lonely

Does my music know me or what?

Sad and Lonely (Daughter Darling)

Did they tell you I’d be boring?

Do you know where to order the next morning?

There is no guarantee

That when you wake up, you’ll be able to breath

So I’ll throw you moonbeams

Ill make you kick and scream

Oh then baby I’ll make you smile

Then I’ll make you bleed

Sad and lonely

Don’t you look so sad

You know it can’t be that bad

Just consider it to be

Another way you’ll see me

Did you forget your place of ambition?

I’ve seemed to move you from your only position

You’re so afraid of my reality cause it burns your eyes

Makes you sad and lonely

And I suppose everything new is old.

It’s ironic, I think, that there is so much chatter on Facebook from people who are trying to jump onto Google’s social networking site.  I think that is what the chatter is all about.  I can’t be certain.  I am what you would call  a “late adopter.”   I’m not hot and heavy to try the latest newest thing.  I still carry my personal flip phone.  Smart phone foisted on me by my workplace.  OK, I’ll admit I like it for Pandora and Pocket Frogs.  But the smart “phone” part of it confuses me still.  Exactly *how* do I playback that voice mail blinking at me?  Not very intuitive.

So, we fickle tech users jump to the next new thing, do we?  Is that what we do?  And the next and the next.  Until we’ll be able to transmit thoughts across the air mind to mind instantaneously.  Until we can know what our friends and family are doing before even they do.  Until our appointments take care of themselves and we don’t even have to show up for any human interaction anymore.  Until we can do half of everything we need to in four times the time, leaving us somehow with one-tenth the free time we had three years ago.  But, that’s ok because……….because………..well, because we’ll be hip to the latest gadget, in tune with those in the know, and keeping up with the Smiths. 

Well, I think it’s time for this hip gal to deactivate, rejuvenate, and maybe spend more time writing blogs and other things that consist of more than 52 characters.  Or however many characters our short-attention-span media allows us these days.  It took my slow-tech, low-tech ass a long time to join all my “friends” on Facebook.  If they are going to turn around and abandon me and my 3,782 pictures and my pithy status updates – well, heck!  I’m just going to call them on the phone more often!  *gasp* 

Take that.

Now that he has found his way out of the box in the garage/storage, Hiker Smurf has taken to the trails with alacrity. He loves hiking.  He loves being outside.  He loves nature.  He also enjoys photobombing my scenic shots. 

Here he is. 

Where is he?

I sat in front of my computer after a long 12+ hour work day, after listening to some insightful questions from my sweet nephew about how many hours I work everyday and how often I work this late, after eating some warmed over canned chili with much too much sharp cheddar cheese, after daydreaming about welcoming Sweetie back home on Saturday after his long work trip away from home, after taking my blood pressure and marveling at the startling increase in numerals from my blood pressure reading last night……….and I sat in front of my computer and switched on my iTunes and asked my music “What do I want to listen to right now?”

And my music replied:

That’s my Phil!  Hmmmm……sounds about right. 

Long Long Way to Go

While I sit here trying to think of things to say
Someone lies bleeding in a field somewhere
So it would seem we’ve still got a long long way to go
I’ve seen all I wanna see today

While I sit here trying to move you anyway I can
Someone’s son lies dead in a gutter somewhere
And it would seem that we’ve got a long long way to go
But I can’t take it anymore

Turn it off if you want to
Switch it off it will go away
Turn it off if you want to
Switch it off or look away

While I sit and we talk and talk and we talk some more
Someone’s loved one’s heart stops beating in a street somewhere
So it would seem we’ve still got a long long way to go, I know
I’ve heard all I wanna hear today

Turn it off if you want to (turn it off if you want to)
Switch it off it will go away (switch it off it will go away)
Turn it off if you want to (turn it off if you want to)
Switch it off or look away (switch it off or look away)

Switch it off
Turn it off

I’m not going to criticize Facebook.  I like Facebook.  I don’t have any complaints about the site itself.   

I just have a small complaint about what I consider the utter laziness that some people display when hitting the “like” button.  Not most of the time.  Generally, if you see something you like, you hit “like.”  It’s a simple honest message.  It’s quick.  Fine.

What about, however, when someone posts bad news?  “My significant other just died.”   “I lost my job.”  You read that and there, sitting beside this tale of woe, you see a small “thumbs up.”  Maybe, the tale of woe is eased a bit if it includes a statement like “but he was a great guy” or “but then I went out and got blitzed with my buddies.”  But really?  Is that worthy of a thumbs up?!? 

You can’t take the time to say “I’m sorry.”  Or……….or…….well…..anything……anything else??  Ten extra seconds to write something?  I’m not kidding, I’ve seen thumb ups next to the woest of the woes.  It’s creepy.  It’s annoying.  It’s sad.  I want to write a comment say “What exactly about this status do you LIKE?!” 

I succumb to the ease of the thumbs up.  Sometimes, I remain mum when I can’t think of a reply.  But I’m not going to click something for the sake of clicking and leave a symbol of good news next to something that so obviously is not.  Let’s not let convenience technology render us so lazy that we can’t articulate the simplest, and something the most important, of sentiments.