Let It BE!

let it be, Hawaii vacation, relaxationDo you remember those middle school essays: “What I Did on My Vacation” ?

Back then, I proudly wrote: “I read, I swam, I sunbathed by the pool, I caught fireflies.”

Back then, we didn’t have computers and cell phones, I-Pads and I-Pods, Twitter and Facebook.

Back then, we didn’t have a hundred choices of things to DO, like skydive or zipline, paraglide or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, river raft or whale watch.

Back then, vacation was a time to just BE.

Now, most of us are always doing, especially on vacation.

So I’m kind of embarrassed to answer the question about what I did on my vacation this month:reading, vacation, Ann Patchett,

(1)  I read six books: The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Time and Again by Jack Finny, Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming, Marry Me, by Kristin Walker, The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett.

(2)  I walked hand and hand with my man, with no destination in mind.

Kauai, Hawaii, walking, vacation

A path to nowhere.

(3)  I watched giant turtles teach me the power of floating to wherever I am taken.

turtle, Kauai

I could do this all day.

(4)  I shopped at the U.S.’s western-most bookstore in the little town of Hanapepe, Kauai.

Talk Story Booksore, bookstores

(5)  I dozed in the sun after an hour of a yoga tai chi class along the ocean.

yoga, tai chi, vacation, meditation

(6)  I admired the sunrise…and the sunset.

Kauai, sunset, relaxation,

(7)  I caught waves of memories, splashes of insight, whispered tradewind words of wisdom, sand drifts of dreams, and a beach load of joy.

Many say I didn’t DO anything…

I say I explored the world of BE.

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” Robert Orben

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” Robert Orben

Are Your Ears Ringing?

flying, ears poppingA week before we’re to leave for our winter vacation this month, the ENT peers into my ear canal and says, “You can’t fly with this ear!”

“Okay, I’ll take my other ear,” I crack.

The doctor doesn’t crack even a glimmer of a smile. “Your eardrum will rupture. You can’t fly.”

“I am NOT missing my vacation, or my flight,” I respond, rising from my reclined position in the doctor’s chair.

“I suppose I could rupture it for you,” she says calmly.ear anatomy, ENT

I sit back in the chair, beginning to sweat. I’ve had ear “troubles” since I was a kid. My mom tells me that when I was a toddler, the doctors wrapped me up like a mummy to pierce my eardrum. I don’t remember this incredible horrible form of childhood torture, but have wondered if those repressed memories are the reason that I suffer from claustrophobia.

And a fear of ear doctors.

ears, flying, ear popping

I like my ears
just fine.

Is there a phobia for that? Upon looking it up, I found that (1) there is an ENT doctor whose name is Dr. Fear. I promise, you won’t catch me dead or alive in his chair, and (2) there’s a fear of ears, called  Kaciraffphobia. But I like my ears fine. No, I just have ENTphobia.

“I can’t let you near me,” I whisper to the doctor now in what I had hoped would be a threatening growl.

“Let’s try steroids first,” she suggests. “We have six days before your flight. If prednisone doesn’t reduce your inflammation and allow you to pop your ears, come back the day before your flight. We’ll make a small incision in the eardrum to drain the fluid.”

Incision?

Eardrum?

Back in six days?

Notre Dame bells, ringingI back out of the room, prescription in hand, ears chiming like the Notre Dame bells, knowing that this ENT specialist won’t see the front of me, or my ears, again for a long, long time.

Sorry, doc. Are your ears ringing now, too?

Family Reunion

family, reunion, airportI race to the baggage area for the usual “hurry up and wait” routine, but the carousel begins its screeching circular belch of bags almost immediately. My cell phone rings when the ‘beep beep beep’ begins and 150 newly arrived passengers swoop in to retrieve their bags before anyone else.

“Hello,” I chirp cheerily on my cell while scanning each bag on the merry-go-round.

“We’re here to pick you up,” daughter welcomes me, in a stressed tone with a capital S. “Come out the doors as quickly as you can. Security guys are watching.”

“Bag’s just about here!” I trill. “Can’t wait to see you!”

But she’s already shut off her phone.baggage claim, airport, stress

As the suitcases circle I wonder about daughter’s use of the word “we.” Our plan had been for her to leave the two kids at home with her husband so we could have some blessed “just mom/daughter” time before the madhouse of a family reunion. We rarely have time to finish a sentence these days – a one-hour car ride with just the two of us sounded like heaven.

Just as my large once-forest green, now cooked-artichoke brown bag sails by, my cell rings.

I pick up the duffel with a yank as I answer.

“Where are you?” sweet daughter shouts.

“Got it!” I reply.

“We’re right at the doors!!”

I begin to run to the right side of the baggage area but stop in confusion. A similar set of doors are also located on the left side. And they each display a sign that says, “Pick-Up: Taxi, Bus, Car.”

directions, which way to go?Which doors should I go through?

I stand in the middle of the large noisy room, vacillating. My cell rings again. Damn.

I shove my hand into my cavernous purse, the one that reminds me of Hermione’s magic bag in Harry Potter, where she pulls out books, clothes, a tent, and a shovel. My fingers search for my phone with no luck. My ring tone blares to the Beatles tune of ‘HELP!,” but I can’t find it anywhere.

So, I bend down in the middle of 100 bustling people and pull out my wallet, make-up bag, roll of Mentos, pack of red licorice sticks, favorite pink pen, hairbrush, and then finally, my phone.

A voice mail awaits me:

“WHERE ARE YOU?”

I hit Reply back and scream, “Which set of doors?”

Daughter shouts back, “What? THE doors. We’re by the red car. Quick!”directions, lost, stress

I throw everything back in my witching bag and take a wild guess, going for the left-hand side doors.

But then I remember, she just bought a new car, and I’ve never seen it. I peer up and down and don’t see anyone I recognize. I open the g.d. phone again and, while standing in the middle of the airport car lane yell, “Can you see me? I can’t see you!”

“We can’t see you! A black van just passed us, did you see it?”

At this point I’m hoping to get run over by it. But then I view a brown hybrid five cars ahead, underneath the overhang. Heart pounding I run toward it with my 50-pound duffel bag, my book bag, my witch purse, and my cell phone at my ear.

Eureka ! My daughter is sitting at the driver’s side! I open the passenger door and almost sit on my mother, who along with 3-year-old granddaughter and 2-year-old grandson is grimacing at me as if I’ve been a very bad girl.

“Find a seat in the back,” they all yell.

Ahhh, family reunions!

famly reunion

Calm DOWN!

calm down, Calvin Hobbes, stay calmI haven’t seen my East Coat grandchildren in three months. Maybe, at the ages of 2 and 3, they won’t remember me.

So, like any self-respecting, upright, honest and upstanding woman, on this visit I bring 2 singing stuffed animals, 2 books, 2 lollipops, and a bag of my famous chocolate chip oatmeal bars.

They may not remember me, but by God, they will like me!

I arrive at their 1-week vacation cottage, a place where they’ve never seen me, so they could be even more confused about who I am and how I fit into the scheme of things. But as soon as I enter the front door, I’m greeted with “Madre! Come see my room!” “Madre, look at my car!” “Madre, can I have my pop now?” “Madre, let’s play outside!”

I breathe a sigh of relief as they cuddle with me, sit on my lap while I read stories, play with my sparkling earrings, and stroke my face like a blind person making sure my lips, eyes, nose have remained in place.

But.

Still.

I want to be the good Madre, because after this week, I won’t see them again for at least three more months.

So when they jump on the couch, I bite my lip.

When they eat their lollipops and touch the doorknobs with their sticky fingers, I only let an ‘ugh’ escape.

When Sophie brushes my hair and pulls too hard on a curl, I just laugh.

Until bed time.

The three of us are sharing the room – Sophie and I are in the double, Clark in his own little futon. The clock is pushing 10 and I’m exhausted, but Clark is yet again sneaking out of the room like a little munchkin looking for Oz.

“Clark!” I yell, scaring the poor kid into scampering back to his bed like a bird into his cage.

“That’s enough!” I continue. “Bed! Time!”

Sophie jumps out of her side of the bed and stands in front of me, chest puffed, hands held above her head.

“Madre, Madre!” she exclaims dramatically, moving her arms from the up position to below her waist. “C a l m  D O W N!  Just C A L M  d o w n.”

“But…!” I begin to protest. But then I realize, what the hell, she’s right!

And I laugh.

And continue to be the good Madre the rest of the week.

calm down, babies sleeping, relaxation

Calming Down

A Whale of a Good Time

whale watching, funPeople ask me, “What are you doing for fun on your vacation?”

I’m afraid to answer.

Walking. Wandering cliff sides and warm sandy beaches. Watching whales.

To many, these skimpy answers do not constitute F U N.

Yet, as I peruse the Pacific Ocean from our balcony, or the bar, or the lounge chair, I can’t help but feel the simple joy of walking, wandering, and watching whales as they cavort just seemingly hundreds of yards away.

First I view fountains of water spouting out from the ocean up into the air. Some thing, or things, out there are having a whale of a good time.

They prove it by defying gravity and jumping out of the water, their tons of blubber slapping back down with priceless delight. From my vantage point on the beach, I can see the monumental splashes the whales produce.

I swear, they are having fun out there!

The thought brings me to a scene a decade ago, when our son attended college 20 miles away, but we rarely saw him unless he needed gas, cash, or homemade cookies.

One Saturday he surprised us when he came home at 8 p.m. unannounced or forewarned. As he entered the living room my man and I guiltily jumped apart.

Yes, he caught us, cuddling on the couch, glasses of cabernet half sipped, immersed in the movie we’d rented.

Sonny Boy shook his head in sorrow. “You guys are so boring,” he said sadly.

We laughed about it when he left (for a frat party). We thought we were having fun!

I guess it’s all in the perspective. I choose to follow the whale’s theory: just splash around and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Just for fun.

(Note: Whales are mammals, so they are warm blooded, breathe air, and give birth. These gentle giants of the oceans are also extremely intelligent. It’s believed that the average Beluga whale has an IQ of 155 – in human terms that’s a genius. Furthermore neuroscientist Professor Patrick Hof at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Dr. Estel van der Gucht of the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology have discovered that the brain of whales contain a special cell that is thought to make humans loving and caring. The neurons (known as spindle cells) allow humans to experience self-consciousness and to interact socially. Previously it was thought that these spindle brain cells, which allow us to feel empathy, were only found in humans and greater apes. However, the research conducted by Professor Hof has found these same cells in whales, and they are also located in the same brain region as humans, suggesting not only they are extremely intelligent but they are also able to experience empathy and love …. And, I would add, fun.)