Like One Fish Out of Water


The Iliad Library. Photo taken from my writing vantage point with a wide (repeat, very wide) angle lens.

The Iliad Library. Photo taken from my writing vantage point with a wide (repeat, very wide) angle lens.

Whenever I travel, I always look for the quiet nook, the place away from the karaoke bar scene and the disco fever, where I can sit and write. Last night while exploring the ship I found a little room called the Iliad Library. There are four tables, a few chairs and a couple bookcases—locked bookcases—where left-behind airport gift shop favorites are kept rigorously unread behind blurry glass.

Perfect, I thought.

But tonight when I sneak in with my laptop, Diet Coke, and ice pack for my throbbing heel (surgery three months ago and still healing), I interrupt a West Indian couple and a Sales Dude working them hard. I sit at the table the farthest away and start tippy-typing away.

Seriously, for 10 minutes nobody on their side of the room says a word. They’re just waiting for me to figure out the all night buffet is three levels up or that the conga-line is grooving on the Lido deck. Finally, Sales Dude remembers time is money and starts yammering about a vacation photo-package. He starts at $999.99 and over the next five minutes sweetens the deal with a memory book, a CD, and an extra free 8×10.

He can’t see me, but the couple can. As he offers his best and final price, I keep shaking my head no. The lady nudges her husband. Slowly the price keeps dropping. Sales Dude throws in a genuine diamonette necklace, discount shopping coupons, and a souvenir tote bag. When his price hits $300 and he throws in free daiquiris at the bar, I hear desperation in his voice.

That’s when I catch Wife’s eye and shrug. It’s on par with a photo shoot and print package at some place like a Target or Sears Photo Studio back home. Considering Sales Dude is showing printed photos, many of his costs are already sunk and he’s behind the eight ball.

Husband sees me, but sets his jaw firm. $280, he offers. Sales Dude says there’s no way he can do that. Husband crosses his arms. $280. Wife looks crushed. She really wants those photos. I start to feel a little guilty, but then Sales Dude sighs and says okay, but you can’t tell anyone the deal I’m making special just for you.

At that point I start to wonder if we’re still too high since Sales Dude’s a little too happy, but it’s done. They can pick up their vacation photos in an hour.

As they leave, Wife waves at me through the glass and gives me a thumbs up. At least they’re happy. Sales Dude packs his stuff more slowly, never giving me more than a dismissive glance. Twinkie. Now I’m happy I saved the couple at least $500 bucks from when they were first going to say yes.

As Sales Dude leaves, a couple of teenagers bounce in giggling, looking for a place to smooch. They sit in the small conversation pit behind me, but it’s clear my tippy-tapping is worse than any chaperone and after a minute of muffled groping, decide to split.

I feel like I’m doing all kinds of good tonight. Time for another Diet Coke.

Oh, hell’s bells. I have to buy new swimwear.

Hawaii, Kauai, 3 baby girls sitting at beach facing ocean.  MR availableWhen I was a kid, this meant going with Mom to Sears or JC Penney and trying on a new bikini. No big deal. Bonus if we stopped for guri-guri on the way home. In Hawaii in the 1970s, we all wore bikinis because kids didn’t grow out of them as fast as one-piece suits, and compared to the nudist colony living up the beach from us in Kihei, my sister and I looked like Amish kids. Besides, wearing bikini bottoms under dresses allowed me to yell, “Face!” to boys who chanted, “I saw London, I saw France, I saw Lehua’s underpants!” when I climbed a mango tree or swung on the monkey bars at school.

Back in the day popping a young boy’s bubble with I’m wearing a bikini! Face! was the ultimate burn. Things were simpler.

80s_swimwearIn the 1980s, I started wearing sleek one piece suits, caring more that the shoulder straps stayed in place while boogie boarding than how high the leg openings were. Remember the French-cut suits that went as high as your hip? I had legs fo’days. Looking at old photos, my ultra-conservative daughter can’t believe her grandmother let me leave the house, let alone walk on public beaches. Wop her jaws when I told her Nana bought them for me.

2000_swimsuitIn the 1990s, I started wearing saggy t-shirts with the sleeves cut off over conservative one piece suits while scuba diving. Around 2000, I switched to baggy shorts and tankinis under big shirts and started playing lifeguard more than swimming myself.

It was inevitable given my new body shape (the non-gym, non-volleyball playing, post-Mom with too many cookies version) that I’d have to fight a battle between what looked good poolside and what was practical to swim in. In the water, skirts and tankinis ride up and most shorts puff out, holding more water than a sponge. Swimsuits that allow you to swim also show every lump, bulge, and chocolate brownie you ever ate. It got to the point where vanity trumped swimming. I put on flirty swim dresses with burka-like cover-ups and stayed out of the water.

It was mainly kiddie pools anyway.

But after losing 40 lbs., all my old swimwear is too big. The family is planning a week-long seashore adventure and I don’t have a thing to wear. I want to swim in the ocean again—no more froofy poolside suits for me. But dang! While the lumps and bumps are smaller, there’s no way I can wear a normal swimsuit in public and not scar little children for life.

swimYou know you’re in trouble when you’re scouring the internet and the styles you think will work are described as perfect for the orthodox sect.

2014_swim3Right now, I’m planning on high-rise bike-style shorts under a dresskini top from Lands End–assuming it ships here in time. 2014_swim2Plan B is a longer tankini top from Junonia. Plan C is a swim bra under a rash guard. All are a far cry from the sexy French-cuts I used to wear, but at least I’m back in the water.2014_swim

Surf’s up!

PS: Of course, none of these photos are of me. Photos of me in swimwear? Are you crazy?

Native Forum Party - 2011 Sundance Film Festival

The PiBs are back in town. You can spot them in a New York minute or L.A. heartbeat, the People in Black, dressed for an ice age in 30+ degree weather—a bleak, but chic ice age—walking very quickly and importantly wearing bright Sundance badges, drinking skinny lattes, and talking a little (way) too loudly about Bab, Mark, and JJ on cell phones. They park anywhere they please, cut in line, and will run small children over to get to the counter where they take forever to order because they have to know the provenance of every item on a burger so that they can order a salad, sans croutons and dressing, with an organic cruelty-free  lemon-wedge on the side.

Gotta watch the carbs, you know.

To save us all time and misery, I’m telling you upfront that our Heber mom and pop burger joints don’t have dairy-free cheese or sugar-free ketchup or free-range pickles. Part of the adventure of traveling is eating new food. Branch out a little, PiBs. Try the fry sauce.

Like the swallows and Capistrano, for the past 30 years the PiBs have annually flocked to our little town chasing the magic of the Sundance Film Festival. And yeah, I remember the first one—I was a budding director and writer myself attending a nearby university and was bribed with free tickets to point people in the right direction and to keep the riff-raff like me out of dimly lit rooms over-crowded with non-fire marshal compliant rows of folding chairs.

Since those college days I’ve been to some of the big galas and events as both a paying and comp’d guest. Meh. The food’s always pretentious, tiny, and undercooked—something you’d forgive and forget if you were there to stargaze instead of to sample the celebrity chef like I was. I’ve seen remarkable movies—and a lot of crappy ones, too. People forget it’s a film festival, not the Oscars. Best way to tell if you’re in for a stinker? Average the age of the people in the theater around you. Sub-25? It’s really going to suck. You’ve got average at least ten years older for it to be any good.

But back to the PiBs.

Am I glad that they spend money in my town? Abso-danm-lutely. I love to see jets worth the combined GNP of most third-world countries lining the tarmac of our small town airport. I like watching the local fuel truck filling them up and all the taxi cabs buzzing in from Salt Lake City. Our quaint artisanal cheese, jams, jellies, and candy shops sell out. It’s a post-holiday season boon to local ski instructors, photographers, and restaurants. I have friends who rent out their houses and escape to the beaches every January—double score.

I know that the benefits continue when attendees see the quality of our ski slopes, hiking trails, and reservoirs and come back for a vacation when the craziness is over. I’ve even met people who moved here after attending the film festival.

There are clear benefits to having Sundance here, check.

And if it were only about watching independent films, I wouldn’t mind the crowds. We get crowds with all our world-class athletic events, too. My real problem isn’t with the films; it’s with the wanna-bees and their assistants. I’ve actually been in line at Wal-Mart trying to buy the kinds of things Moms need to keep on hand when a gaggle of gel-slick hipster PiBs demanded their own checkout line because they were in a hurry. Didn’t we know who they were?

Seriously? You pulled that line while shopping at Wal-Mart for bottled water, folding chairs, and cheap Park City sweatshirts?

And then there are the people who wail and gnash their teeth in the street, shocked that their car was towed after it was parked under a no parking sign. Once a guy actually called the cops and complained that towing his car was rude and demanded they bring it back.

Yeah, good luck with that. Our sheriffs don’t know (or care) who you are either. They’re too busy making sure the emergency service vehicles can make it down the street.

Now that I don’t work in Park City, most of the time I can avoid the worst of the plague, but this year with a foot in a cast, rocking a knee scooter and a daughter who would rather ski than breathe, I’ve been spending too much time around them. My favorite recent run-in was at a movie theater where my husband and I went to kill some time before dragging the ski fiend and her friends off the slopes. (We were watching a non-Sundance film at a mixed use  venue.) I was trying to maneuver through a crowded hall lined with double red velvet ropes that cordoned it down to a narrow one person pathway. (Fire marshal, anyone? Anyone?) A big guy was headed toward me, noticed my predicament, and stepped to the side to let me by. At least five Botox betties and two skinny jean wearing dudes with tasteful grey temples immediately leaped through the gap, blocking me from going anywhere. Big Guy rolled his eyes.

“Can you see me? ‘Cause I can see you,” I said as each person shimmied by.

It wasn’t until Big Guy growled, “Don’t worry. I got your back. Next one I tackle,” that someone woke up from his it’s-all-about-me daze long enough for me to roll by.

Yep. It’s the yearly PiB plague. I much prefer the Olympic athletes and their crew. They always grab a door for me. “Bummer man,” they say with a headshake, “And during prime ski season, too.”


castSo how do you use a laptop when you can’t sit at a table and don’t have a lap?

That’s my most pressing problem right now with my right foot in a cast and needing to be propped higher than my heart. The ice bag takes up what little room I have between my gut and knee and reclining half on my back and leaning on an elbow, I’m at a loss at how to balance the computer and type at the same time. Cocooned in a pillow nest, I’m tired of taping out one letter at a time on an iPad. Serious writing needs ten fingers.

It’s my fault for always writing at a desk with a chair and keyboard and two big monitors in a room where I can shut the door. Like a jock with lucky socks, I’ve trained myself to think that it’s all about the quiet room and the ability to use a mouse. Writing on the living room couch is a cramped affair filled with scraps of other people’s conversations and too loud music.

Adapt or die. Right now death is winning.

Being cooped up the past two days has built up a torrent of words and ideas that want to pour like water over a cliff, but they will have to wait until my foot no longer needs elevation and ice or I master some new yoga poses.

It’s going to be a long two months.


smurf_footIn Utah, I run around barefoot or in slippahs waaaay too frequently. It’s not unusual to see me scampering to the mailbox, quick stepping through the snow because until that moment when the sub-zero cold hit my tender tootsies I forgot that normal people wear thick socks and boots in December. There’s something to the saying that you can take the tita out of Hawaii, but not the Hawaii out of the tita.

A side effect of my refusal to wear shoes are rough, dry, and cracked heels. Too much desert, not enough humidity, and definitely not enough hours in the ocean and walking along the beach. I’ve tried all kinds of treatments and lotions from snooty spas to good ol’ Vaseline and plastic wrap, but nothing seems to work very well.

So when I saw this new, easy fix on the internet it’s no wonder I gave it a try. It came up on my Pinterest and Facebook feed at least ten times over the summer and was always accompanied by a zillion testimonials of how amazing it was. Maybe you saw this, too:

This is crazy. Mix 1/4 cup Listerine (any kind but I like the blue), 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1/2 cup of warm water. Soak feet for 10 minutes and when you take them out the dead skin will practically wipe off.

I know, right?

So I got all the stuff together, mixed quadruple the amounts (I wanted my heels covered) it in a big shallow bowl, plunked the bowl in the tub, perched on the edge, plopped my feet in, and goofed on my iPad for 10 minutes. The results?

Smurf foot.

My skin is blue and no amount of scrubbing with anything short of a sandblaster is going to change it. And of course, the color’s deepest where the skin looks its worst, the exact part I wanted to remove, not highlight like a muffin top over leggings.

My son, the honors chemistry student, laughs and says I should’ve known this would happen and goes through some long-winded explanation about how the acid in vinegar breaks down oils in the foot so the blue dye in the Listerine can penetrate better and then rambled on about quantum mechanics and turning straw into gold—I don’t know, I stopped listening.


And no slippahs for at least a week!

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