Thursday, September 30, 2010

what else is there

I met dozens of people every day in the two years I drove an airport shuttle. I still remember some passengers after 15 years. Some were that rude or that friendly. I often got asked how long I had lived on Maui to which I replied 10 or 11 years. The response was the same: ‘You must like it here.’
Well of course I liked living on Maui. I moved there in 1975 so I grew up there and the only time I spent away was college on Oahu. I really didn’t understand the mentality of picking up and moving.
The best thing about moving is that Prajna and I started dating when she helped me move. When I came back from college I lived in a bachelor pad near the beach with a couple other guys. The graveyard shift was tough and I really wanted a place of my own and when I found one Prajna and another friend helped me move. I think we did it in one trip. I had a couple boxes, a trunk and a computer. My furniture was no more than a bookshelf, a futon and a dresser and maybe a nightstand.
Prajna and had a place together when we were married. It was a cozy house in Haiku. Then we moved to a condominium in Kihei. When we went to Budapest Hungary it was like taking a trip. When we came home it was like moving. We had been there two years and had another child. We could take two bags per plane ticket and my sister came to visit and help us home. But we still packed and repacked and took more and more stuff out of boxes and suitcases. It took so long to load the airport shuttle van we almost missed the plane.
After a year back in Kihei we moved to Yucaipa. We hired movers for this but it was still stressful trying to sell our condo and get to California because Naomi had a bone marrow transplant and we had a deadline to meet.
We lived for 6 years in a house on Wildwood Canyon Road. Jamie and Nathaniel were born there. Then we moved to where we are now. The packing, the cleaning, the lifting, the anxiety and stress of moving caused Prajna to declare that we would never move again. I agreed. “You must like it here? Yeah that and I really don’t care for moving.
We are moving again in a few months.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

meaningful candy

On the way home from piano practice yesterday Harrison shared candy with me. If Jolly Rancher’s are not the best tasting candies of their kind I don’t want to taste what may be better at least while I’m driving lest I have an accident. They were chewy Jolly Ranchers so they didn’t last a long time like the original hard candies but they tasted the same. The first one he gave me was watermelon flavor which is my favorite. Cherry and grape are favorites too. I don’t know why anyone bothers making orange candy.
Before I left for work yesterday I said goodbye to Jamie and Nathaniel who each has a party favor bag they were sorting through. In addition to little noisemakers was candy. Prajna and I were remembering the other day when we were kids we got candy on special holidays and that was pretty much it. We do our best nowadays and the kids still have their teeth intact.
After saying goodbye to the boys I started walking up the driveway to my truck. Before I go to it Jamie came sprinting up barefoot on the hot pavement and gave me an orange sucker. There was such love in that gift that I kept it in my front pocket that afternoon and evening just to remember how happy he was to give it to me. When I ate it I thought that I must be doing something right in being a dad. Not because I got an orange lollypop but that I loved it as much as the Jolly Ranchers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

the 25 year paragraph

I thought maybe I would make it this time. But I usually think that until something happens that I either caused through my decisions or just decided to cause.
I mowed lawns for my dad’s church as a teenager. After that my first real job with real hours and a boss and a paycheck and all that was cleaning hotel windows for a janitorial company. That was 1985. I lasted two or three months there before being terminated. I wasn’t cleaning windows fast enough.
Over the next 25 years I’ve had about a dozen jobs. The longest I held one was almost four years. The shortest was one night. This may not seem like a good thing to post in cyberspace for everyone to see. When I came out and posted my conservative Christian points of view a few months ago I considered it risky but really just saying what I believe and braving the wrath of more liberal friends is nothing. Now I’ve just posted that I may not be the most employable person around. Truth or not, maybe I should keep this vilifying information to myself.
After Pacific Window Cleaning I worked at Pizza Hut Lahaina for nine months before quitting to go to college. In college I worked a switchboard and mailroom job. I worked at Jack-In-The-Box for two summers, a boy scout camp one summer and a different Pizza Hut my last summer of college. Then I went back to the Wahiawa Pizza Hut and drove after college until I left to live on Maui again. On Maui I was a telemarketer for a day and an Ihop cook for a night. And from 1991 to 1994 I worked at KNUI radio. I left that job when the graveyard shift became too difficult with a family. I drove airport shuttle vans for two years. Then I went to Budapest Hungary and taught English for two years. Coming back I worked a few day labor jobs until landing a bob as a substitute teacher. I drove the same airport vans over the summer but by the fall of 1999 my daughter Naomi was in and out of the hospital on Oahu. Our family left Maui for good and moved in with my parents in Yucaipa. From November of ’99 to May of 2000 I didn’t hold a job while Naomi had several hospitalizations, a bone marrow transplant and radiation. I got a job working at a placement facility for juvenile offenders and kept that until February of ’01. Then I transferred to the school onsite and taught special education. Naomi passed away in ’02. In April of ’03 I lost my teaching job because I had not done work enough to get my teaching credential. In July of ’03 I went to work for a Land surveying firm. I worked there until the economy and the housing market began to show serious signs of recession. I was let go in March of ’07. Six months later I went to work doing church facilities.
I’ve been there three years and have a week and three days left before starting my new job as a church custodian. My prayer is that I hold this job forever, but that was my prayer before too. So I will try to pray more that I stay obedient to God and do well where I am and follow his will. I have not always done that and have let lots of people down. In the last 25 years I hope I have at least learned how to humbly follow God.

Friday, September 24, 2010


My regular hours at my work are from 2 pm to 11 pm with an hour for lunch halfway through. I leave for work after lunch. I used to read to the youngest boys and put them down for a nap before showering and leaving but they don’t nap as much any more.
I get to work and check the schedule and then usually begin setting and cleaning rooms for evening events. My work phone may interrupt me and there may be boxes to move or paper towels to stock. By late afternoon I’ve got everything ready usually and I might do small cleaning jobs before I take a lunch break. There always seem to be leaf encrusted cobwebs clinging to the sides of buildings that I can sweet away.
I take an hour lunch. I may eat leftovers or a frozen dinner or once in a while go get something. I usually prop my feet up and read my book too.
In the evening I clean offices and restrooms and then get set what I can for the next day.
Some days my routine is completely destroyed by a large event. I don’t mind the disruption. For the most part I am in control of what I do at work. It’s a safe place. I work alone and listen to audio books. I enjoy being alone.
Yesterday I turned in my two week notice of resignation.
I was offered a similar position at my home church. I will have 40 hours but I don’t know the days or hours yet. They may be flexible.
I’m very happy about all the good in this. But there are things to be sad about too. Most of all I will miss co-workers. And of course the safety and predictability that I rely on is gone too. Permanent change in routine is not my favorite thing especially when it’s out of my control.
But in this economy I was sought out and offered a job. That’s exciting and humbling. God still has plans for me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

weather we like it or not

Although the weather is supposed to warm up considerably this weekend, this morning feels like summer is over and fall is hear to stay. The sky was is still a little overcast. When I got up a little after seven most of the cars on lines up on the road to Mesa View Middle school had their headlights on. The floor is cold and I’m thinking how on real winder mornings when it’s in the 30’s outside I have to remind all my children to wear socks to avoid chilblains.
I revealed in the last blog that I grew up in Lahaina, Hawaii. None of the homes there had air conditioning. Most homes had ceiling fans and stayed opened up all day and all year. The trade winds made the heat and humidity more bearable. The coldest you might feel other than Ooka Supermarket in Wailuku would be at Upcountry Maui and Haleakala. The leeward sides of the Island included Kihei and Lahaina and with the afternoon sun tended to be the warmest.
But the warmest and coolest it ever got was not as much as living near the bottom of a mountain on the edge of a desert in Southern California. But there are not great extremes here, only what we call seasons. In Hawaii we had summer heat and winter cool with rains. While most of our rain now is in the winter we also get occasional snow.
I am thankful that I live where I do and don’t get months of snow. I have always preferred warm weather to cold. Now winter is coming and now is when I’m trying to get up earlier to write. I need to make sure I have plenty of socks.

Monday, September 20, 2010

town mouse rides a bus

Prajna likes to kid me calling me a city boy. I suppose she can say that seeing as how she grew up in Kula, Maui which is always referred to as Upcountry Maui. She lived in the Keokea area at about four thousand feet above sea level. There are pastures, green rolling hills, cool weather and even occasional fog. Almost anything is a city compared to that. But I didn’t grow up in a city.
Lahaina was a resort town. When I moved there in 1975 I was eight years old and there was only one traffic light. There were ten on that side of the island when I left it in 1988.
One summer in 1984 my dad took me to Oahu for the weekend. I had been in big cities a lot before but never on my own until he dropped me off at the Bishop Museum. He gave me instructions on how to catch the city bus (called TheBus) to Ala Moana shopping center. When I was done at the museum I walked out and asked driver of the first bus I saw if he went to Ala Moana and he chuckled no. It was a tour bus. When I turned away I may have looked alarmed or he may have saw the Maui Youth Theatre writing on the back of my shirt but he called me back and drove me to the shopping center.
My shirt worked for me a few hours later when my friends Luana and Kalani spotted me. We were both surprised to see each other. One could say it’s a small world but really it’s a small state where at least back in 1984 no one was that much of a city folk.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


This blog can often be jejune. Jejune means sophomoric or immature. My first blog ever here used the term: navel gazing. I got both these terms in my inbox. I subscribe to words of the day. I do have a fondness for word and phrases. When I learn a new word I use is as often as I can to the chagrin of others. Usually I taper off after a while or forget about it after a time.
On the same subject of words is this: Growing up I almost never got into fistfights. Most often I would talk my way out of something or use words to hurt. Once was I was in third grade and my sister was in kindergarten she came to my saying a boy was teasing her. So one teased my sister but me so I set off to find him and ended up with a few others following to see if there would be a fight. There wasn’t. I don’t remember what I said to the boy but I only talked to him quietly for a minute and he walked away crying.
Nowadays Prajna is urging me to go to the gym but I would rather stay home in the early morning and write. I will not deny that working out physically would reduce my weight and increase my durability. But my mind is more important to me so here I am sipping coffee slinging words. It’s what I do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

superfriends of today

When I watched old cartoons from the 40’s there was a common underlying theme. I even remember a parrot singing in one of them: “Leave well enough alone.” That’s even an underlying theme in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy promises to not stray away seeking adventure. So the mentality of American culture back then seemed to say be satisfied with what you have and don’t compromise your situation with unnecessary risks.
I’m sure that there were accepted exceptions to this belief. Young men and women took risks in war, space exploration, inventions, and business. But all of those bettered society.
Nowadays the message to the children seems to be: “You can do whatever you want to do.” The only restriction on this credo is ‘don’t hurt the environment’. Actually there is another restriction and that is don’t question the ‘no limits’ doctrine or you’re a hater.
I don’t know if I was around when this great shift in society took place but I have a good idea when it took place. It’s the way the world is now and we live in the world. I may continue to question the freedom being taught to young children in government schools and the cartoons aren’t what they used to be. But I know several young people who have run with this “Do whatever you want to do” belief. They are fighting for social justice and human rights. Not freedom from censure rights dressed as civil rights but serious causes like human trafficking and world hunger.
While it’s easy to despair for the world while watching reality TV one can have hope if they pray for the generation trying to make a good difference.

Monday, September 13, 2010

has anyone invented this word yet?

Listening to music is one of the most important things for me. I like it in the background when I’m at home. We usually keep on the local Christian Radio station or the oldies station.
I like it when I’m working but I usually only have one earpiece in when I listen to my MP3 player. In the past when I had both ears in and was deaf to the world someone was trying to call me and I didn’t hear the phone. Now I listen mostly to audio books at work. I do listen to music sometimes and try to tolerate not hearing the left stereo channel. When I’m vacuuming I put both ears in since I’m not going to hear anyway.
Having music in my vehicle while driving perhaps the biggest deal to me. I have dozens of CD’s in my truck and plan accordingly. There are all kinds of driving conditions and the music can match them. I made a mixed CD for my drive out to the desert two weeks ago. The blessing of living so close to work means that I can pick out something that will last most of the week.
If this has been a dull blog I apologize. (Maybe one could call a blah blog a blahg.) But I’ve been getting up an hour and a half earlier for a week now and have not begun any writing of short stories or novels. But if I sit ant the laptop and drink coffee I must keep the wheels turning or they will rust up. Truthfully they have rusted up and are very slowly squeaking back to life.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

this day in '01

On September 11th 2001 I woke up for work. Prajna was in Los Angeles with Naomi at Children’s Hospital LA. Naomi was hospitalized for an infection and had recently been not hearing anything very well. There turned out to be fluid in her ears so that day she was getting surgery to have tubes put in her ears. My parents came over to look after the three younger children while I went to work and they told me some planes had flown into the World Trade Center. We turned on the TV and I saw the footage of smoke coming out of one of the towers. To me it didn’t look too bad.
Driving to work I listened to the news on the radio. Just before I got to work one of the reporters live in New York said:
“Oh my God,” and I heard a roar in the background. When I got in to work a TV was on and one tower was gone. The next one fell soon after.
I was teaching at the time at a placement facility for juvenile offenders. They were more subdued that day and delighted when we canceled classes so they could watch the news. I think the most disturbing image that morning was people dancing in the streets of Palestine. Children were cheering into the camera. The boys asked me why the Arabs hated us. I explained about Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and that it was a turf war among other things. The school principal heard me explaining and later had me teaching a current events class.
I drove to Los Angeles the next day to be with Prajna for her birthday. The sky was blatantly empty of planes and it was disturbing. Naomi could hear again and Prajna was showing her six month pregnancy with Jamie.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

big wheel keeps turning

The first day of school for our family that involves classroom instruction. It is damp and overcast. This is the kind of morning that I think is best for staying in bed watching cartoons and eating cereal straight from the box. The problems with that notion are as follows:
There are no good cartoons on any day of the week any more at least with the broadcast TV that we have. If we had cable that would bring in a whole new plethora of distractions.
I can eat sugary breakfast cereal the way I used to. I begin to feel ill after a bit and the best thing to accompany it is beer and it’s been years and years since I had a beer in the morning.
Finally I have committed myself to being a responsible father. That means being the parent which means overcoming distractions in the way of homeschooling. If I sent the kids to government school they would all be up right now getting ready or on their way. Then I could plop down and watch The View or what Prajna really wants: go tot the gym.
I could even sit all morning and write my novel. That’s productive. But it’s also selfish. The time to write is before they get up which is now. I’m not authoring a novel right now, I’m blogging. But I’m writing and that to me is good enough for now because the wheels are turning and not rusting closed.
In a few minutes I will prompt Benjamin to start breakfast and get the big wheel of the day turning. That one is more like a carousel and never rusts up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer is done

School officially starts today for our family. Prajna made up a schedule for our homeschooling and Tuesdays have Piano which is part of it. Wednesday through Saturday is our classroom instruction. Tomorrow morning I will start math with the older children.
Harrison has been taking piano for several years now and plays with our church’s worship team. He is composing music and has two homemade CD’s produced. Sarah is starting piano today. Jamie wants to take piano but we are waiting a year for his maturity to develop.
I have never learned a musical instrument. I won’t count drums in 7th through 9th grade as I didn’t play the snare very well and mostly played the bass drum with took little instruction or musical ability. Musicians in the mainstream media make piano look easy and sometimes I wish I had learned to play anything. (Yes I do play harmonica but it’s self taught and not well.)
So I’m up early this morning. Early for me at least and the kids don’t need to be up for a little while still. With school starting up again I want to write again. I want to write more than just a blog. I want to get back into writing stories again. My two main options are to revise Icarus or begin a memoir about Naomi. Neither one sounds particularly appealing. But laziness is why I don’t play a musical instrument.

Friday, September 3, 2010

James Lee was my friend

On Wednesday September 1st James Lee entered a building belonging to the Discovery Channel Television Network. James had a radical environmentalist manifesto that railed against human population among other things. A hostage standoff ensued and James was eventually shot to death by police.
I grew up with James Lee. I knew him from the 3rd grade and graduated from Lahainaluna High School with him in 1985. When I met him in 3rd grade I first noticed his voice was always a little lazy sounding as if he was half asleep. He and I hung out sometimes though because we were both socially awkward and we both liked Star Wars. Over the years we were sometimes friends, sometimes not. He often gave me comic books that he didn’t want any more and thought I would like. He became very good at drawing comic book characters and I still have a picture of The Punisher that he drew for me. I remember another time however when a friend and I tried to convince him that he had a lover’s crush on First Daughter, Amy Carter. He became so frustrated that he was beside himself with rage. He pointed a finger to my friend and me and rasped that we would pay. He sounded like a supervillan, but it actually frightened us.
I remember walking home from school with James at least once or twice. We talked about the next Star Wars film coming out soon. Then we went to our separate homes. I never visited James’s home. In a letter he wrote to a federal judge in 2003 he described himself as a miserable loner who spent his childhood alone in his room. I think that is an accurate picture.
I haven’t seen James Lee for 25 years but in some ways he did not change. He was always socially awkward and seemed cynical and angry. After graduation I guess he continued a lonely life and it must have really hurt. I won’t pretend to understand his motivation for a manifesto so hateful against human population. But the James Lee I knew wasn’t passionate about the environment; he just didn’t care for people.
I am shocked and sad by this event. It seems completely senseless and has nothing to edify me or anything I can write here. I am only sad that he is gone and in many ways was never here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

crumbling mofifs

When I was learning to drive on Maui there were only two sections of road where the speed limit went up to 55 miles per hour. I few years later there was only one. The Kuihelani Highway was probably the longest stretch of uninterrupted road on the island that I remember. Moving to the U.S. mainland in 1999 gave me a look at not only vast expanses of land but the straightest roads I had ever seen in my life.
I have always loved roads. This may have come from my childhood love of cars. I still remember watching a paving machine lay down new blacktop. I may have been 5 or six years old. It was the coolest thing in the world to see this huge truck lumbering along pouring out road. A day later I felt it and it was still soft.
I could get all poetic and say how that in the same way there is really one ocean there is really only one road. The pavement out in front of my house connects with 7th street and then interstate 10 which goes from Santa Monica to Jacksonville Florida. It’s all connected. (Except for cattle guards and drawbridges.)
Roads are something of a motif in my blogging and even writing. They symbolize life. Roadwalker is the handle I’ve used for a while and Roadwalker media is my idea of my own filmmaking production.
So walking on a road is the same as moving through life. On Maui the roads were curvy and you couldn’t pass snowbird tourists. Three days ago I was headed west on I-40 between Ludlow and Barstow. Some cars were going 90 mph. My little truck worked best at about 75. If I needed to pass a big rig I turned off the AC.
Mixed up somewhere in this is a whole metaphor for my life. I would explore it my my daughter Sarah is putting breakfast on the table.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

love in the hand

I completed a movie and posted it on YouTube of my Desert getaway. I put Spaghetti Western Music behind it. My first version, however, had the theme music from Mad Max beyond Thunderdome. Tina Turner sings savage lyrics along with a war drums. But I changed it. I dressed very practically for the desert in light colored loose clothing. Like last year I had to overcome the desire to wear my long black coat, black clothes and of course my heavy leather boots. Maybe it’s a sign of maturity that I’m being realistic.
One thing I did take along was a Hot Wheels Car. Nathaniel seemed concerned about me and just as I was leaving he stuck himself out through the hole in the screen of his bedroom window. He offered me three of his Hot Wheels Cars. I didn’t know why at the time but he wanted me to be able to play with it if I got bored. It didn’t matter that I had book seven of the Dark Tower or that I can sit in a camp chair and stare at mountains for a long time and not be bored. It this case it really was the thought that moved me. I choose a red 1969 Dodge Coronet.
That night it got pretty creepy and lonely. Even with the moon it was very dark. The wind blew over the rocks and ground creating a discontinent uneasiness. I drifted off to sleep in the tent only to have the wind flap the tent and wake me up.
I had emptied my pockets and taken off my belt with my phone and knife and tools but I still felt something in my front pocket. There next to my lip balm was the car from Nathaniel. I turned over in my sleeping bag and held the car in my right hand.
‘What a loving gesture’, I thought.
And the night grew just a little less lonely.