personal history

Geysers And Minefields Of Grief.

Grief is a constant companion.

Once Grief comes into your life, it is always with you. Not always in the forefront, but always there. There are daily (hourly) reminders of what you've lost. Sometimes the reminders are sweet and funny - memories of experiences you had, pictures of younger selves. And you can smile, feel nostalgic and sad, but mostly warmed by a good memory. Some reminders are bastards that come at you with force, knocking the wind out of you, making you wonder how on earth you've gotten this far, for this long without the person who died.

Fucking Grief.

Many things have brought Grief up lately. Our neighbor's mom died recently. She was 98 and her end was comfortable and good. As good as any unwanted end could be. I also had a conversation with Grace around that time about Jen and thinking about what we've all lost - we lost a mom, a sister, a wife, a daughter, a good friend, a kind person. My neighbor, whose grief is raw and new, talked with me about how it feels like a roller coaster, a minefield, a geyser. If only it were a geyser like Old Faithful, when you can anticipate the blasts of emotions and schedule around them. It's really more like a minefield.

When someone is ripped from your life, not only are they gone, but you get sent to Griefland without your consent. It's an alternate universe that looks exactly like this one but is full of mines. You pick your way through - sometimes you are blown apart, sometimes only mildly bruised. Though admittedly the "mildly bruised" part comes a long way after the initial arrival in Griefland. When you first arrive, you are simply blown apart the whole time. It takes a while but eventually you can put pieces of yourself back together long enough to withstand the next blasts.

Patton Oswalt is an actor and comedian I admire. His wife died a few months ago, unexpectedly and way too young. They have a seven year old daughter. He's in the desperately-trying-to-breathe-there's-not-enough-air-in-here phase of grief and he wrote an essay that starts with "Thanks Grief." (Read the full piece here.)

If you spend 102 days completely focused on ONE thing you can achieve miracles. Make a film, write a novel, get MMA ripped, kick heroin, learn a language, travel around the world. Fall in love with someone. Get 'em to love you back.

But 102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years and you have shit to show for it. You will not be physically healthier. You will not feel "wiser." You will not have "closure." You will not have "perspective" or "resilience" or "a new sense of self."  You WILL have solid knowledge of fear, exhaustion and a new appreciation for the randomness and horror of the universe. 

There is no "closure" when it comes to someone you love dying. They are gone and there is no coming back and you have to live with it. How can you close that loop when a giant piece of it is missing?

I'm obsessed with the Broadway show Hamilton. In the second act, there is an unexpected death and in the aftermath of it is a song called "It's Quiet Uptown" with these opening lyrics:

There are moments that the words don't reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you're in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down
The Hamiltons move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable

"It feels easier to just swim down." Lin-Manuel Miranda knows things.

When I first heard this song I was still reeling from the previous song in which the death takes place, so I didn't really hear this one. After a few more listens I just lovehate this opening verse. It's so beautifulawful. (I can't listen to this song unless I'm alone and not expecting to see anyone for a while so my eyes can recover from all the crying.)

The best advice I got about grief was "the only way out is through." Grief is pain and suffocating. Grief knocks you down, literally. Grief is confusing and messy.


You have to feel it all, experience it all, every day, one foot in front of the other. You can't suppress the feelings because they will wait and fester. You can't push them away and expect them to be gone. Those brutal feelings are never gone. It does get easier less hard. Later, eventually. In your own time. 

It's been eight years since Jen died, 10 since my dad died and 23 since my GrandmaJane died. Even now I still have pieces of grief I express about my grandma that are leftover from 1993 because I would not let myself feel those shocking horrible feelings. They are like pieces of shrapnel that work their way to the surface of my skin and finally come out.

The grief I have been working with lately is about not making any new memories. My analogy is that we are all in our own boats, sailing along together and at some point those who have died drop anchor. You can still see their colorful sails, but they get farther away. The memories will always be there, but without the person you shared them with, there is not a constant refreshing of those experiences, the laughter, the anger, whatever. You know what? I don't know what the hell the sailboat analogy is about. Except it's about desperately trying to make sense of something that you can't makes sense of. And I'm startled, sometimes daily, to realize my memories of Jen will fade more quickly then they should over time because she's not here to help me remember.

I'm still learning to live with the unimaginable. I'll never stop having to learn.

I wish for all of you that you don't get a ticket to Griefland for a long long time. If you are already there, walk carefully, but keep walking.


Roller Skating Life Lessons - Lesson #1

Lesson #1 - Moonlight Rollerway (Since 1950!)

June 25, 2016. 

Holy crap what am I doing here? I'm so nervous. There is a 17 year old girl out in the rink doing amazing things on 8 wheels and I wore the wrong socks. The teacher better get here soon or I'm going to bolt in a panic.

Up on skates, Jeff, the skating instructor, is very gracious, his voice and manner calm and soothing. He holds my hands and/or my arms. He's like a dance instructor, leading without making you feel incompetent. And what I am is incompetent.

I tell Jeff to treat me like any of his five year old students. I have no ego about being an almost 50 year old woman getting back on skates. (Or so I think-more on that in another lesson.) I get my feet under me after a few shaky circuits, I can propel myself in the most basic of skating ways, after a bit I can scooter push and do scissors. This is good.

SneakerskatesWhen was the last time I skated? Early 80's?* I'd coast mom's car backward out of the garage to make room, then sweep the pebbles out, lace the skates, turn music on, then go around and around and around in a tight little two-carport-garage-circle. My skates were blue sneaker style with white trim and laces. When we lived on Oahu, I had white boot style skates with metal wheels which must have been hand-me-downs from one of my sisters. My quick google search led me to these pictured at right - no toe stoppers? Amazing. I do have memories of skating into grassy lawns to slow down/stop or grabbing trees. But maybe I had skills enough to stop without any of that?MetalSkates

God, being a kid is great for physical stuff. No fear, low center of gravity and, most importantly, the joy of ignorant self confidence because at seven you haven't collected decades of self-doubt and -loathing to get in the way of trying new things. Or a good skate.

I remember Dor coming to visit once from the Big Island. I was nine or ten. Not sure how long she'd been staying but on her last night she was making lasagna (her specialty) and while she cooked, I skated. The window over the sink looked into the garage and we would talk. Details of the actual conversation are gone, but I recall Dor laughing and saying something about "Nini is ready for me to go home!" How could she read my mind? We'd had a fun visit, but I wanted to have my regular routine back. I tried to deny it to not make Dor feel bad. Looking back, I love that Dor (at 17 or so) had the insight to read me so well. I know now that I worked so hard to hide those kinds of feelings. I wonder if I was simply unable keep hiding them at the end of her visit or if the physical act of skating pushed those feelings out of my body and made it obvious.

I didn't fall in my first lesson with Jeff, a huge achievement. The muscles in my feet were tired as were my thighs, but otherwise I felt great. I would get the hang of this again in no time!

I'd had a wacky idea: Roller Skating lessons! And I didn't back out of it. Feel the fear, do it anyway.

But I didn't really know what there was to fear yet.




*The couple of times I roller bladed in the mid-90's didn't stick.







Ropers Heels


The other day I wore these half boots that Kurt bought for me. My colleague and I were walking down some stairs and I was off balance and mentioned I was not used to wearing these boots. He looked at my feet and said, "Oh yeah, ropers heels."

Dang! Someone who knows about cowboys and rodeo! If you saw him you'd think: "LA hipster" but in that instant I remembered that he grew up in Calgary, home of one of the biggest rodeos in the world. I'm guessing he wasn't really involved with rodeo as a kid, but you can't live in a city like Calgary and not know about rodeo. That would be like living in LA and not knowing about Hollywood.

Of course there are plenty of times when I talk about rodeos and people would say "Wait, you grew up in Hawaii, how do you know about rodeo?!" Clearly all they imagine are beaches and hula girls. Well, that and Diamond Head. Hawaii is a big cattle state, having one of the biggest cattle ranches in the country. It's on the island called "The Big Island." Big being the operative word.

My dad had a career as a sportscaster in Hawaii. When they moved to the Big Island, he started to work with the cattle ranchers and became the announcer at all the rodeos they had in Waikoloa. (He also had a big hand in bringing polo back to the Big Island, but that's a different story.) As a kid I spent summers in Waikoloa and when there were rodeos at Waikoloa Stables Arena, I ran around with all the other kids, punching cattle through chutes, hoping to get ahold of one of the coveted cattle prods. How old were we? 8? 9? 10? We used cattle prods with no supervision (I don't remember any) but no one got hurt (other than the cattle). 

Ropers heels. Good times. 



Ten Years, Man! Ten YEARS! (Part 2 of 2)

IMG_1495The first half of 2006 had been a fun year, jetting to Paris and up and down North America. And by the way, if you ever get the chance to hang in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Montreal, take it! We got to relax in the business class lounges for all of our travels because in 2005 I was supposed to have worked on a long term project in Virginia. I would have been flying twice a month from LA to Richmond for about eight months so my work partner and I decided to spend the money on a United Red Carpet club membership. Then that job got cancelled but I still had the membership. Silver lining? I suppose. I would have liked to have worked on that job.

So July. The job in Mexico had gotten into a smooth rhythm. We had some adventures on our weekends. Then I got a call that my dad had taken a serious downturn and would probably die in the next 48 hours. And he did. My dad had been in a nursing home facility for years as he had alzheimer's. He also had heart issues and was 83 when he died, so it wasn't entirely unexpected, though a death is always a shock, even when you know it's coming.

100_1265The team in Mexico was supportive and helpful, of course. At the end of July, I flew back to LA for a night, then Kurt and I flew to the Big Island for a week, helping with the funeral plans and reminiscing. We stayed at the hotel at Anaeho'omalu Beach, which was perfect. It is the beach I know so well on the Big Island, have known it since I was so little, where we used to go before there was a hotel. Also, let's be honest, so happy to be in air conditioning. Waikoloa is H O T in August.

It was a fascinating time, learning more about my dad, hearing others talk about him, people who knew him in a totally different way than I did. We all told stories and looked through old pictures all while playing the Keola and Kapono records, shouting out the words to Mr. Sun Cho Lee. (He got plenty lychee!) 100_1288

It was also surreal to be with my sisters and stepmom and nieces and nephew in dad's house, all there without dad. All the emotions were heightened, of course, the grief hitting us all in different ways. There were tears and laughter and plenty of shouting and hurt feelings, all the usual family stuff. At one point Dor turned to me and said, "How can you be so calm?" I just shrugged and said, "That's what I do. That's what I've always done." Then added, "Hand me another beer..."

There's my dad. The Don Draper of Honolulu. (Who later moved to the Big Island.)

The day after the funeral, we scattered his ashes from canoes at Anaeho'omalu Bay. The water was calm and the experience quite new for me on a variety of levels.

Then a big aloha to Hawai'i and back to Mexico for me. I was really glad to have two overnights in LA on each side of that trip. Nice to sleep in my own bed and pet the cats.

There were three more weeks of the shoot in Mexico and I enjoyed the hell out of them. We went to Puebla for a few days as well as Cuernavaca. We had various locations that were a refreshing break from the sets at the abandoned quarry/mall. A friend from LA came down to hang out for a long weekend and we timed it for the two day weekend that had been scheduled (we were working half days on Saturdays). It was so nice to be a tourist with a good friend.

100_1460A giddiness started creeping into the crew as we got near the end. We were all still working hard, but laughing more and taking more pictures of each other. The crew went out one night for drinks and music and that was our non official wrap party and it was a blast. Then the real wrap party came and it was nice, but not as much fun. On the last day of shooting, when the first AD called "That's a wrap!" I, of course, burst into tears. What a long crazy summer it had been.

Adiós Mexico! Adiós Diana, my favorite statue in Mexico City. Hello LA...

Home. But not for long. At the end of September I'd be off to London to work with the VFX team for a few weeks, handing over the information from the shoot to the new producer. But before that, we were invited to a friend's beach house in Santa Barbara for Labor Day weekend. A wonderful few days of good friends and sitting on the beach and looking at the ocean. Soothing.

London. I got good at figuring out the bus schedule (cheaper/easier than the tube) and my little neighborhood in Clerkenwell where I stayed in the Zetter Hotel. Quite hipster cool at the time and so expensive that when my work was done and Kurt and I were staying a few days more, we found a cheap and therefore TINY room elsewhere. We played tourist, my favorite day being the one at Hampton Court Palace. (I love a good audio tour!) 100_2347

Then for fun and also because you can, we took the train to Paris for three days where again, our friends were staying in their apartment and we spent a lot of good time with them.

Paris twice in one year? Man, that is a good year.

Home at the end of October. I was exhausted and charged with emotion and restlessness since I had been moving practically non stop since April.

There was one more trip and that was to Maui in early December with Kurt's family. They had never been so we enjoyed many touristy things, trips to Hana, up to Haleakala, ziplining, snorkeling, big hotel Luau, the whole nine yards.

Then home. HOME. A quiet Christmas on our own here in LA. Just us and the cats.

2006 was a roller coaster and I loved it all. I know that sounds strange since my dad died in the middle of it, but loving it all is just embracing all that life throws at you - the good, the bad, the easy, the tough - everything. I'm proud of that year. I doubt I'll have another quite like it. But I hope I do.

Ten years, Man! Ten years.

Ten Years, Man! Ten YEARS! (Part 1 of 2)

IMG_0669The other day I was pouring coffee into this mug and thinking about when and where I got it and realized it was ten years ago.

20th Century Fox had hired me to work on The Omen (6/6/6) and the offices were at The Lot on Santa Monica Blvd. The job itself was not too intense and the crew was great, mainly the woman who ran the whole office, Emily. Technically she was the Production Assistant and had only recently graduated from university, but she really ran the place. She and I had many fun conversations and now, ten years later, we are still friends. We haven't seen much of each other lately and that is something I promise to remedy very soon. (Oh and I got the mug at the Starbucks at the corner of Santa Monica and La Brea on a slow work day just before Valentine's Day.)


TEN YEARS! This is my favorite moment from Grosse Point Blank. I love Jeremy Piven.


But then I started thinking about what a nutty crazy year 2006 was. Come with me...

January through mid April - working on The Omen, met Emily. Learned how to really set boundaries at work. Didn't let the outrageous screaming guy get to me. I was quite proud of myself.

In April I got a phone call asking if I could come and work in Mexico City for the summer on a movie, but due to work and vacation schedules I had to turn it down as they needed me to start right away in April. (But pay attention to the name of my blog...)

SpidermanI got another phone call asking if I could work on a movie for two weeks in Cleveland at the end of April. This actually worked out as The Omen was just finishing and I arranged to leave and work on a 2nd Unit shoot for Spiderman 3. It was the wildest/wackiest two weeks. The shoot only happened in daylight (best kind of filmshoot because once it gets dark, you are done.) AND our hotel was literally on the street where we were shooting. No 45 minute bus rides to location.

And because my hours were not too nutty, I also moonlighted in the evenings redoing vfx shot breakdowns for an HBO mini-series as new scripts came in. Hey, why not make a few extra bucks on the side? We had a trip to Paris coming up...Cleveland was fascinating and OMG SO COLD. I loved being downtown where there is a football stadium, a baseball stadium and the basketball arena and all the historic buildings from prosperous days gone by with names like Carnegie and Rockefeller sprinkled about.

The crew on the job was fun, though we had a local PA who was none too bright, I'm sorry to say. Hopefully he had other strengths. The best part was that while none of the actual stars of the movie were there (only stunt versions) the crowds came out to see Spiderman and the production company let Spidey meet all the kids who came to see him and take tons of pictures. I snuck one in myself.


I got back from Cleveland and almost immediately we jetted off to Paris in May.

20120706-110844We were in Paris for two weeks and rented an apartment about two blocks from Notre Dame Cathedral. We spent almost every day with Pranab and Kate who were in their apartment in the 12th arrondissement. It was relaxing and lovely and I'd like to do it like that again. The highlight for me was the day we walked along La Promenade Plantee - the original Highline Park. It was magical to walk up above the streets of Paris, looking into apartments and offices, through lush gardens. At the end we found a place to sit and have a refreshing beverage and just enjoy the city.

We walked so much on that trip, eschewing the metro every time we made the 2.5k walk back and forth to their flat. We always went to them as they had a large indoor market plus boulangerie and lovely wine shop all within two blocks. Heaven.

We have not been back to Paris since then and we need to remedy that soon.

Grace graduated from high school in early June and we were all there to celebrate that fun day. While there I got another phone call from the Mexico City job asking if I were available now. I said, well, I'm in No. Cal for an event then going to Montreal for a wedding in two weeks. After that, I said, I'm free. So on the phone I got the gig as they still needed a producer on the ground. They asked if I could come down for four days between trips to get a lay of the land, have a few meetings, etc. Ummm. okay! Hooray for Hollywood.

So after the graduation trip, I hopped on a plane to Mexico City with a script and not a clue what it would be like or even who in the world I would be working with! I have amazing guardian angels because I got to meet and work with Paddy and Steve. Two kind, relaxed and funny guys who made my quick pre-trip to Mexico easy and fun. We stayed at the very colorful Camino Real hotel and it was a whirlwind trip. I said "see you soon!" and hopped back on a plane to LA.

Montreal! An old family friend Paul married Dee in her hometown. Paul's whole family had come to our wedding five years prior and when his older brother Matt got married, we were not able to make that wedding (with great regret). So I vowed to be in Montreal. Kurt and I spent a lovely long weekend there. The wedding was beautiful and the receptions and parties after were a blast.

100_0761Then back to LA for a minute, wash clothes, buy specific Mexico City gear (including the infamous BFH) 100_0949pack for three months, kiss the cats and husband good-bye and back to Mexico City.

Back to the Camino Real, back to the wild main set built next to the abandoned shopping mall down in an old quarry, back to the fun crew and VFX team. My spanish got better and I learned a lot of very specific spanish words that are not normally taught in high school: pentalla verde, for example.

It was all going well. Trips to see pyramids at Teotihuacan, adventurous dinners out around town, just driving through the city every morning and evening there was something new to see. Finishing the work day in the bar, having cocktails, doing paperwork and emails with Paddy and Steve. Seeing other film crews arrive for other movies (clearly the Camino Real is THE place to stay).



Then my dad died.


More to come....







David Bowie Can't Die

Zoolander was the first movie we went to after 9/11 happened. It seemed the no-brainer choice -- total escapism. I was having a good time, laughing an enjoying the ridiculousness of it all.


Then came the moment where the two models have their "Walk-Off" and they need a judge. I knew, I KNEW it was going to be an amazing cameo by someone huge and I was so excited SO EXCITED to see who it was going to be. Then this:


And I felt like nothing bad could ever happen again. David Bowie was there.

It was not dissimilar from the scene in Extras where Ricky Gervais' character is in the VIP section and tries to connect with the genius who is David Bowie. I'm sure I did a spit take when Bowie just launches into singing with "Poor little fat man..." Then a bigger spit take as he swivels round to the piano and just launches in to the full song.


I don't know Bowie's music very deeply. I don't relate to Ziggy or The Thin White Duke. I was about Putting Out Fire With Gasoline and China Girl from Let's Dance. I could probably sing all the songs by heart if you played it for me right now as it came out when I was in high school. I have fond memories of listening to it at Lisa's house in Makawao. I do know all his greatest hits, though, and have been surprised this week to realize just how many there are.

Of course I knew who he was and that there was a big important history to him in the music world. And yet, I truly fell in love with David Bowie in the movies.

Now you are going to scoff at me because having said that, I will confess I've never seen The Man Who Fell To Earth.

I know, I know.

I think I first heard about David Bowie in any serious way from my friend Jai. When I knew her she was just Karen. But she came to Seabury from Honolulu with a stack of records that blew my little Maui mind. She might have had Bowie, I don't remember (Adam and The Ants stood out to me more). But she talked about Bowie and about The Man Who Fell To Earth. This was back in the day when you couldn't just pop over to the video store and grab it, much less download it. But the way she talked about him and the movie and how much she admired him really stuck with me. It's almost like I don't want to see the movie because it might not live up to what I heard about it from Jai.

Jai died in 2003. I miss her so much.

There were two movie theaters in close proximity to me on Maui and I lived in them. In 1985 a movie came out called Into The Night with one of my favorite actors, Jeff Goldblum. It looked funny and I went to see it. (Probably alone as I loved going to see movies alone!) In the middle of this wacky awesome movie comes this scene:


Bowie playing a hit man, out to get Jeff's character. Bowie is suave and smiling and charming and amazing. He's in the movie for about 5 minutes but it made me happy and surprised. I also thought, "How cool that this amazing musician (so I'd heard) was just having a laugh doing a little part in this movie!" (I own this movie and can watch it over and over. I also love it because it is such a loveletter/postcard/snapshot to LA in the 80's for me as I was just about to move there.)

Also in 1985 was The Breakfast Club. That seminal John Hughes movie that defined a generation (I can use that phrase, can't I since I'm that generation?). And what was the opening visual of that movie?


I'm not sure which movie I saw first that year (They both came out in February of 1985), but David Bowie just seemed to always be there, always kept showing up. (Let's Dance came out in 1983.) And again, I didn't know much about him, but clearly he was important.

Important is not quite right. Significant. Exceptional. Vital.

One of his last big roles was playing Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.


If you know anything about Tesla (and you should because he's astounding - read this from The Oatmeal) you know that he's otherworldly in his genius. I believe he was also kind and open minded and misunderstood. Who better to play this wonderful soul, but another wonderful soul?

And while everyone is posting images of Bowie from the Glam Rock period  -- you know the one with him and the big painted bolt on his face -- I will always remember him like this - impeccably dressed, handsome, gorgeous, enigmatic. Those eyes.


As my friend Laura said upon hearing the news: "Bowie seemed timeless, so his passing just feels incongruous with reality."

Incongruous with reality.

That is the truth to me. How could this ethereal, otherworldly, but oh so human being actually die of something so crass, so low as cancer?

Bowie just keeps showing up on social media this week and I'm glad. I don't want him to ever go away. I want to be surprised by his cameos forever.

Maybe he'll make a cameo in my dreams.










Going To The Beach

This morning I started a blog post about going to the beach in LA vs. going to the beach in Hawai'i. About one paragraph in I realized that it's not that different because I was remembering going to the beach as a kid.

As a grown up with a three-year-old in tow, going to the beach means bags of towels and dry clothes, snacks, drinks, hats, sunscreen, buckets, shovels, etc etc etc. It also means finding parking in expensive lots or parking spots, some times far from where the sand actually starts. Then schlepping all that stuff across the W I D E expanse of beach that lines the Santa Monica Bay to sit near the water.



Compared to my three favorite beaches in Hawai'i:





and Anaeho'omalu:


And Beach 69, but I think I've made my point. The beaches in Hawaii are small.

(Bonus points to whoever can tell me why it's called Beach 69!) (Dor, you are disqualified from competing.)

My main point is this. As a kid, going to the beach was a snap: put on your suit, grab a towel (and maybe a t-shirt) put on your slippahs and HELE ON! Easy! But of course the more I thought about it earlier this morning, I realized that whoever drove me to the beach had also packed a cooler, bags of snacks and all the other stuff. (Minus buckets and shovels - we dug WITH OUR HANDS!) So, in fact, it wasn't that different than today in terms of schlepping all that stuff. But at least once you got to the beach, the distance was much smaller.

So my original rant of a blog post fizzled out by the dawn's early light.

Then I got to thinking about going to the beach in high school. That, in my memory was also a snap. Bathing suit, shorts/t-shirt, sunglasses, slippahs, bag with towel and suntan lotion (not actually sunscreen...). Oh and someone might have had a small boombox. On the way we would stop and get manapua and/or arare and/or li hing mui (oooh my mouth waters just typing that) and sodas.

Steinlager-new-zealand-beer-lagerAfter a long hot day at the beach, catchin' rays, brah, all relaxed and sun-kissed, we would head home but usually with a stop at a store along the way for a quart of ice cold Steinlager. (A quart each, mind you.) And maybe more manapua if there was any left.

Okay, if I'm honest, sometimes it was Lowenbrau.

Going to the beach as a kid and later as a teenager was the best. I like taking Harper to the beach. I am just looking forward to when she is old enough to carry more of her own stuff and old enough that I don't have to hold her hand as we splash in the water. Sometimes it's nice to just sit at the beach and chill. With a cold Steinlager.





Misty Watercolor Memories...Then Pele Burned Them To The Ground!

This bad boy is parked in our neighborhood and it instantly brings me back to fun summer times on the Big Island.


My parents were divorced so in the summers I would visit my dad, stepmom and two older sisters. One summer we rented one of these Tioga RVs (not sure what the actual model was, but this seems close) and toured Volcano.

In my small kid memory we spent a week, but in reality it must have have been about 3 nights or so? Someone older than me is going to have to help me fill in the blanks! Also, I can't remember, did we do this one time or multiple times? I remember Jen being there but then I remember her not being there. (She didn't always come in the summers - long story on how my nuclear family breaks down.)

Anyway! The point is - happy memories. Kilauea caldera, Kilauea Iki, Chain of Craters road, Queen's Bath (Rest in Peace!), Kalapana black sand beach, bird park and of course Thurston Lava Tube. Night times were filled with eating at pic-nic tables and singing John Denver songs to Dor's guitar.

My dad had hearing loss/damage from work he did in WWII (This is my understanding, of course I could be mistaken). He used hearing aids, but still had issues with hearing. Most times I think he had issues with paying attention, but that's another theory... Dad's lack of hearing was just another aspect of him, like he wore glasses and was a good swimmer. But I never really got what his hearing loss was like until one day on this trip we went to Kipuka Puaulu (Bird Park) to walk the mile loop trail. Dad, in his tour guide way, announced that on this trail we would hear a lot of birds singing and that many were endangered native birds of Hawai'i. At some point on our walk Dad said something like "Wow, there really aren't many birds in here at all." I remember someone saying "There are tons of birds singing" I was thinking the same thing. And it dawned on me that Dad couldn't hear them at all and that made me sad for him.

Black Sand Beach was a great local stop for us to get out of the RV and go body surfing and swimming. Queens Bath was the same, but more magical as it really felt like a place Pele built especially. Sadly, both are gone. Queen's Bath in 1987 and Kalapana Black Sand beach in 1990. Pele clearly needed to start over.


Look how enchanted this spot was. I'm so sad I can't take Harper there.


But the best memory of all was having Lucy along for all the fun. She walked the trails with us and body surfed at Black Sand Beach (She really did!) and swam in Queen's Bath. Mostly though, she hogged the front seat of the Tioga. I miss that Lucy, she was one in a million.


I think fondly of the RV trip (trips?) and actually fantasize about doing our own some day. But oooh, it will be so much easier with just the three of us!

Answering More Questions

It's been a while since I continued the "Getting to Know You" questions from this article. (Previous questions answered here.)

Today's questions are:

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

Openness. Being able to laugh or cry together (or both at the same time). Being able to say "hey it really bummed me out when you said XYZ" to a friend and not have it be a fight. My closest friends share similar values in self discovery, they are working toward knowing themselves deeply, making positive change in their lives and sharing that journey. 

17. What is your most treasured memory?

RedleiThis is tough. I've had a great life so far, so many good memories to treasure! So, you know when you do proofs in geometry you have givens? Well my givens are the obvious things: Harper being born, our wedding party, etc etc.

But the memory that popped into my head when I read the question was from 1985. It was Valentine's Day and in chapel (Seabury Hall is an Episcopalian school.) my favorite teacher/woman/person was speaking about love, giving, selflessness, aloha spirit. And as she did, she was stringing a lei to symbolize that. Then she said that she wanted to give that lei to a person who embodied all those traits - Julia? Could you come up here?

I cried.

That was powerful, wonderful, amazing. Not only did I get recognized for something I didn't even realize I was, but recognized by someone as inspiring to me as this woman. Wow. That is a treasure that lives forever in my heart and I work to pay that forward as often as I can.

18. What is your most terrible memory?

Sadly, that's an easy one. The morning my sister died. (Seven years ago this month.) I can still hear my niece's hysterical voice on the phone telling me the news, her dad in the background weeping. Then I had to call my mother and tell her. Then I had to call my sister's father and tell him. Horrible, brutal, awful. 

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

I would book tickets to many places in the world and travel travel travel. I would visit friends and family and squeeze all that I could from that year.

This is something I am actually going to start doing very soon. Harper is getting old enough to do some traveling and it's been over five years since I used my passport and that is just not right! I've made new friends that I have not yet met in real life, babies have been born and are half grown who I've never seen. Travel has always been a priority in my life and I've not been focused on it for a while. That changes now.

20. What does friendship mean to you?

A friendship is another kind of marriage. It means commitment and support, in good times and back, for richer for poorer, sickness and health. It means honesty and letting go of fear, not worrying what the other person thinks of you when you are at your worst, knowing they will be there for you when you come out the other side.

I Love Scarves. I Live In The Wrong Place.

Okay, I actually live in the right place for many things. The main thing is the movies. I always wanted to work in the movies, so here I am working the movies. But the weather never suited me. I always wanted to live in a place where I could wear a scarf like this all the time:


That's Claire from Outlander, in case you didn't recognize her. I just started watching the show and it's a perfect escape after busy days. (I don't binge, I savor.) But it's one of the first times I've watched a show and through the whole episode I just stared at her scarf. I believe my exact thoughts were: WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT.

Problem is I don't knit. Then I googled "Outlander Scarf" and dang if there weren't a ton of these for sale on Etsy. Problem solved.

But I live in LA and it's spring (and going to be 90 today) so what on earth am I thinking?

Maybe I'll just google "Highland Cottage Rentals" and fantasize a little more before Harper wakes up. Oh and pin the esty pics to my pinterest account for later.