Saturday, July 31, 2010

The screamer

I have a screamer that lives next door to me.  I am guessing that she is about 10 years old and I think the cause of much of her woes is that she has several older brothers. Now, I get the frustration that siblings bring at that age. I also get that some people need to vent their frustration in some manner. What I don't get is how it can go on and on and on and...

I mean, where is the rest of the family while this rant is happening? Do they just tune her out and pretend that it isn't taking place? Remember, I live in Hawaii where multi-generational domiciles are more than common.  There is a very minuscule probability that there are not several other relatives at home at each given moment when a tantrum of this type is occurring. Don't they mind? Do they have sand in their ears?  Are they investors in cotton, earmuff, and earplug companies?

What I also don't get is the actual need to scream. I must be missing some female gene that dictates that every girl must scream starting at around the age of 2.  I see girls screaming with delight at the playground. I see teens screaming as they look on in teen-adoration at their teen-idols. I even see grown women screaming in either fear or excitement at something as simple as squirting water.  I, myself, am not a screamer.

Oh, I do exclaim the occasion "Oh!" or "@$?&!", but never a full-blown blood curdling scream. 

Hold on a minute. I think I do remember a time when I let out a throat-burning, lung-deflating, scream of terror. I was just about ten years old (the same age as my neighbor), on the verge of drifting off to sleep.  My older sister jumped into the doorway of my room (dark silhouette backlit from the hallway) and in a menacing voice yelled "TARANTULA" with her arms thrown wide. I remember I sat bolt-upright in bed, eyes popping, screaming bloody-murder. Even the thought of it makes my neck ache a bit.

Yes, that may have contributed to my life-long phobia of spiders, but it did not send me down the road of being a serial screamer. Luckily, I think I may have passed this missing scream-gene proclivity on to each of my two daughters; it was a blissful and peaceful time at the playground with them. No ear-piercing shrills, or deafening tantrums.

My young neighbor, on the other hand, is perfecting her skill at every opportunity.  With the aid of her brothers, she will be ready to enter into the Banshee Hall of Fame at a very early age. And she will know people far and wide who will be able to verify her claim.  Lord, have mercy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are Wii having fun yet?

Normally, I think of myself as being an agile and well-coordinated person. But, as of late, I have discovered that I am no good at snow-boarding, floating in a bubble down a stream, or riding a Segway on the beach. But, on the other hand, I am really good at hula-hoops, kung fu, and flying like a bird.

And, my wings are feeling very tired.

I have discovered the wonderful world of Wii Fit Plus. Not being of the "gaming generation" this is all fairly new to me.  We are talking about a virtual yoga instructor as well as a sassy cartoon that tells you that you are not only obese (according to medical standards, of course), but automatically adjusts your Mii caricature to reflect your plumpness.

Not feeling daunted by the Nintendo manual that warns of seizures, eye strain, motion sickness, and damage to your console or TV screen, I leapt onto the Wii Fit Board and began my journey into wellness. 

"DO NOT JUMP ON THE BOARD" the screen warns me as it puts me back at the beginning of my routine. Shoot, I thought I was doing so well.  "STEP IN TIME TO THE MUSIC" it then screams at me. Wait a minute, I was in perfect sync. It is the carpeting under the board that is screwing with the results. "SO, BALANCE GAMES AREN'T YOUR CUP OF TEA", the screen consoles me, "KEEP WORKING AT IT", it placates.

So far my injuries have been minor; feet tangling with the edge of the board as I attempt to step on and off in time to the music, a sore elbow from trying to hit home runs, and a very bruised ego.

The dogs have learned to flee the room when they see The Board being laid out on the floor, and I'm wishing that I actually had curtains on the windows. But, my personal trainer is very encouraging and never laughs at me; at least to my face. For all I know this thing is hooked up to some central Wii Fit Headquarters where virtual trainers compare whose "client" is least coordinated or who is not in first place, but rather, who is in millionth place.

Overall, I am having a blast with this thing and it will all be worth it as I whittle away layers of exercise apathy and shed pounds of inert activity. Besides, I take comfort in knowing that I at least look better in person than all those little Mii characters that I am in fierce competition with.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Life and Death

As my daughter so succinctly put it, “Life is always fatal”. At its base level, it is easy to understand that yes, we all must die one day. But, seeing it Up-Close-And-Personal during my recent trip to Oregon and Idaho saying goodbye to family, knowing this fact doesn’t make it any easier on those left behind.

Certainly, life is a journey. Although this is an oft-overused cliché, it is absolutely true.  It is an ongoing quest to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually.  It is a journey fraught with danger as well as delights; filled with friendships, family, and sometimes heartbreaks. But it is a journey we all must take. If we are lucky, this trip will take generations to complete.  For others, it must come to an end sooner.

And, as we approach the end of our journey, or are forced to face the end of our loved-one’s journey, it is a time to contemplate whether every road taken was the right one.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to look back on your life and not have one single regret?

But to contemplate regret is actually to admit that no action was taken after determining that a wrong turn was taken. It is so easy to just sit back and ride that slippery slope into a lifetime of “what-ifs”. 

Through all of this introspective time, I have determined that my new year starts now. I have resolved that I will no longer let life happen merely to me. I will go and make life happen for me.  Every mistake I make is mine and I had better wise-up and learn from each one of them. Go for the gusto, grab for the brass ring.

Death will come for me; I have no doubt about that.  Although I might not be ready for it, when it does come I want it to say, “GOOD JOB. NICELY DONE.  LETS GO NOW”.  And, I’ll have no regrets. How about you?


Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Wish Tree

Today I went to a an event at a Asian marketplace that they called the "Oregon Summer Fest". It was a gala affair with hot-cooked noodles, lots of kimonos, an Asian band doing covers of the Jackson 5 and Elvis, and, best of all, a Wish Tree.

A Wish Tree is an individual tree, usually distinguished by species, position or appearance, which is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value. By tradition, believers make votive offerings in order to gain from that nature spirit, saint, or goddess, fulfillment of a wish (yes, I looked this up on Wikipedia).

In this case, it was a small bamboo tree in a pot, moved into the parking lot area, easily accessible to the masses. The point of the Wishing Tree was to write down your wish and hang it from the tree. Today, it was even made more special for us non-asian or japanese-speaking revelers by having someone read the wish and write on the back of it the same wish in Japanese. How cool is that?! A double-whammy wish!

Anyway, I decided to go with the whole "fate gives you what you ask" philosophy, backed by the fortune cookie I just received last night at Panda Express (which clearly stated that I will have a comfortable life). So, I bought a Power Ball ticket and made a wish. Yes, it is flapping in the light breeze, in both English and Japanese, summoning the great spirits to shower wealth upon me (as well as good health and happiness).

I'll let you know how it turns out.