My Blogs' Identity Crises? That's SO 21st Century!

In May of 2005, I created my first blog and loved the experience.  I found witty, thoughtful/goofball friends who knew their way around a keyboard.  We read each others' stuff, commented, re-commented, re-re-commented and generally had a grand ol' time.  It was a semi-anonymous experience, as my 'fellow bloggers' were all over the place, so we were not a part of each others everyday life.  There was a certain openness that felt comfortable.  Unfortunately, it was also on an adult-oriented website, so my efforts to get the people who ARE part of my life to come read my blog didn't go over very well.

Well, life moved forward and we wandered away from that site, looking for something a little more mainstream and palatable to others in our world.  To this day you can find traces of my mwukelic blogger journey - from blogspot to this Live Journal blog to the really cool WritersCafe, which managed to lose -yes LOSE- everything I posted.  One of my favorite blogging experiences was on a site called Six Sentences. The catch was, each post is supposed to be exactly six sentences.  Not five, not ten, but six.  Way harder than it sounds and it's a GREAT exercise for writers.  My page is here and I hope I wander back some day.

A couple of years ago, I decided to create my own wordpress site, so MartiWrites was born.  Originally intended to be a showcase where I park stuff that I considered "good" writing, it never really developed a personality and now is a little stuffy and not much fun.  

These days, the omnipresence of Facebook (and the fact that 50% of everyone I've ever known is there) and my innate laziness makes it easy to just toss up semi-mindless soundbites, get good interaction and just forget about blogging altogether.  However I recently found a wonderful group of Social Media experts/afficianados who know how to coalesce all these online apps and ops into something directed and purposeful.  (Well, okay, maybe the purpose is to play, but that's fine).  Through them I joined a Maui Bloggers Group and if I don't post something at least monthly, I'll get kicked out.  So here I am.

The blog site that I'm putting together right now is called Achieving Our Dreams, and it's my first blog to actually have a purpose beyond the fact that I like to hear myself talk.  Over the past year I've developed a three part workshop called "Manifest Your Dreams" which deals with the idea of manifestation; from both the pragmatic to borderline spiritual perspectives.  One thing we've learned is that many of us need some outside motivation to keep us focused, some sort of accountability, something in our brain that says "wow, tomorrow someone's gonna ask me if I did what I said I was gonna do, so I better do it."  [see Maui Bloggers Group comment above] Thus the blog.  It's not completed yet, but the point will be to supply those who are interested with a sort of gentle carrot/stick support. I like the focus.

But back to the point ...
The online persona identity dilemma.  Where should I blog?  Everywhere?  Do I keep them all or dump all but one?  When I read some of my posts on blogspot, a site I hadn't visited in three years before today, I was reminded of what I first loved about blogging.  I wasn't trying to "BE" a writer.  I was simply having a conversation with anyone or everyone who might be interested in joining in.  Sort of the poor man's Dave Barry.  That's what I miss and that's what I want to get back to.  

Now WHERE I'm gonna do that - THAT'S the next question.  Stay tuned, lol...
hand on mouse

We Alll Remember Where We Were

As it was for most of us, my September 11, 2001 began like any routine work/school day. I was a single mom living in the heart of Hana-Maui, trying to get an eight year old out of bed, into school clothes and out the door.   Just as I began my “Get ready or else” speech, my friend and next door neighbor phoned.

“Did you see the news?”

“Uh no, why?”

“A plane flew into that building, that tower on the mainland. Go look, it’s on TV right now.”

Knowing we were running late, I didn’t really want to take the time to watch a news bulletin  about an obscure event that didn’t pertain to my life, but it sounded important to her.  So I went into my bedroom where my son had sneaked off to watch TV, and wrestled the remote away from him.  I saw footage of the plane hit and thought wow, how terrible for the pilot and for the people on those floors.  I said as much to my friend on the phone.  She simply replied, “Keep watching.”

So I watched.  And I watched it again.  And again.  As the dreadfulness of what I was watching began to sink in, the phone calls began.  Is there school?  Is it cancelled?  I called Hana School and was told it was cancelled.  Got a call back saying, no, it’s not cancelled.  By this time we knew it appeared to be terroristic action and we knew about not only New York but also the Pentagon.  And more horrific for me personally, we knew about the downed flight in Pennsylvania, less than an hour from where I grew up.  Later, I learned that my family would find bits of charred material and ash in their yard for weeks after.  But at the time, I mainly tried to stay focused and not panic.  Like the rest of us, I had about 50 – 50 success at that.  It took days to get through to key family members and friends, until we were all accounted for.

I looked at my son, sitting in the corner of my king sized bed, in the corner of my bedroom, in the innermost part of my house and all I could think of was how much I wanted to push him deeper into that corner and keep him there.  Safe, in our house, away from the world, away from things like exploding airplanes and destroyed buildings and people who might hate him through no fault of his own.   In my twenty years of life in Hana, I had never been so grateful for the secluded, sheltered little town as I was at that moment.

“So Mom, is there school today or not?”

“I don’t know but you’re staying home,” silently adding to myself ‘forever, if I have my way.’

As the days and weeks unfolded, I cried with the world, grieved the losses of those affected, made the contributions and uncharacteristically looked to our leaders for direction.  And in recent years I’ve become friends with survivors, and have learned about it from their unique perspective. But in those first moments, my visceral reaction to our national tragedy was that of a mom, plain and simple.

Memories that come more often than once a year

“Hey, did you guys see this thing for POW bracelets?” Cathy came bounding into 14D with a mail order flyer. “We should order some.”
It was November of 1972 and I was a college freshman at an expensive but academically mediocre all-girl junior college in Miami, Florida. I took the paper from her and began to read aloud. “Over a thousand American soldiers have been held as Prisoners of War in North Vietnam. Our goal is to make sure this stays in our awareness until each soldier is returned to us. Please order a POW/MIA bracelet and pledge to wear it until your soldier comes home.” I checked the cost – only $2.50 which for the standard bracelet and $3.50 for the copper one, even by 1972 standards, was really cheap. The idea appealed to me instantly. “Yeah, let’s do it!”

So on that day, several young women from Bauder Fashion College in Miami, Florida, marched to the post office, got our money orders for $2.50 each, slapped on our 8 cent postage stamps and ordered our bracelets from the address on the somewhat amateurish but passionately produced flyer.

Several weeks passed before I received the small lumpy manila envelop in the mail. In it was a bumper sticker : POW/MIA: I WANT THEM ACCOUNTED FOR, a many times folded sheet of white paper with program information, and a nickel plated silver colored cuff type inexpensive bracelet with an engraved rank, name and date. The point was to clamp the bracelet onto our wrist, and keep it there until the person whose name was on the bracelet came home. I studied the inscription:

LTJG E. James Broms
8 – 1 – 1968

Wow, my guy (as we thereafter referred to ‘our’ soldier) had been missing since I was in eighth grade and about a month after Bobby Kennedy died. Bummer, I thought. My idea of celebrating his homecoming by triumphantly removing the bracelet upon his return lost some steam. Nevertheless, a deal is a deal . “Okay, E. James, here we go.” I put the bracelet on my right wrist, squeezing the ends together.

And there he stayed. I only took it off once - to emcee a beauty pageant- because the person who supplied my gown thought it “ruined the lines of my silhouette.” All evening James flashed into my mind and I vowed to never take it off again. And I didn’t. Through my college years…through graduation…through my return to Ohio and job interviews, job placement and through my wild and crazy early 20s social life. Day or night, professional or partying…while I slept, showered or even while “doing the deed” the bracelet never left my arm. Until one night in 1977…

I was in a Columbus area night club with friends. A man with whom I had an intense to-the-depths-of-our-souls type of relationship, and hadn’t seen in months, walked into the club. I saw him, gasped and the bracelet broke off my arm into two pieces. No kidding; it really happened, just like that. I placed both pieces in a secure pocket in my purse and turned my attention to the situation at hand. The next morning I was scheduled to make a quick visit to the warehouse of the clothing chain for which I worked and while I was counting Jones of New York jackets, someone slipped into the break room through an open window and stole my handbag. Money, license, keys – replacing all that was inconvenient, but what could never be replaced was E. James Broms.

I’ve often wondered about the cosmic implication of those events and the only thing I can come up with was that it’s not about a strip of metal and it’s sure as heck not about me. It’s about one person honoring another. It’s about a man who put himself into harms way – either by choice or by draft – and got the short end of the dice roll. Honoring such a person transcends politics or our opinions about war, specific or in general.

The last contact anyone had with James was while he was piloting an A4C Skyhawk over the Gulf of Tonkin. He was flying the fourth position in a four plane airstrike, and his last transmission was “Puffs all around me.” That’s war, I suppose. He was 24 at the time.

In the mid 80s I was able to visit his name on a traveling replica of the Vietnam War Memorial. When I finally visited DC in 2004, I couldn’t wait to visit and etch/rub his name as a keepsake. Unfortunately, the wall was being renovated and I was unable to view that portion. “It’s not about the wall, it’s not about me” echoed through my thoughts.

If James is still alive, he turned 68 earlier this month. It’s unlikely. However, when I shuffle past the “stuff” of bracelets and walls and self congratulatory ego, I know what’s important. The spirit, the essence of who this young man was is definitely rattling around the cosmos somewhere. And to that spirit I say, “Mahalo, James. And Godspeed.”


My Semi-Annual Rant

Dear Starbucks,

 It doesn’t bother me that your coffee is overpriced. It’s an occasional treat and I like the product.

I don't even mind your over-the-top terminology like barista and grande.  I just give you a mental eye roll and continue to use words like clerk and medium.

I can even deal with your “aren’t we just the most socially cool company?” advertising.

But every camel has their own personal backbreaking straw and mine is the hypocrisy of a corporation not really being as environmentally conscious as they pretend to be. Two little things:

Last month, when I was ensconced in the little comfy chair area and fully intending to drink my tea on site, I stopped the clerk before she put the plastic hat on my cardboard cup and said, “oh you can save the lid, I’m just going to be right here.” To which she replied, “I’m sorry, we have to put the lid on everything.” Fine. Legal department: 1, Environment: 0. But that was just my ‘lead up to’ straw. Today’s illogic did me in, I think.

I – sugar and cake crazy addict that I am – allow myself one of those scrumptious $2 tiramisu cake pops now and then. So as she pulled my precious little cake pop out of the display case I tried again. “You can just hand it to me. No sense wasting a little bag or something.” And she replied “Oh, they want us to serve them in this box,” and proceeded to put together this goofy little two part sliding cardboard box, put my cake pop in it and slid it shut, handing it over. I took it, removed the cake pop and immediately handed her back the box.

Isn’t that just plain silly?

Will I completely boycott Starbucks? Probably not. But Barnes & Noble has a cute little coffee/reading/wireless corner and I think they actually serve Starbucks products (along with others). The employees are easy going, friendly and are happy to not waste stuff that I’m just going to throw away. In fact on the rare occasion that I remember to request it, they’ll even put it in a ceramic mug that will be reused.

Gestapo lady at the Lahaina Foodland Starbucks, I give you a gold star for consistently following orders. And B&N, I give you my business.


So Far

 A couple of summers ago I attended a two week Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) professional development class and we had to write a "poem" (I put it into quotes because I STILL don't know what constitutes a poem) about who we are, within a certain structure.  And I came up with this:

So Far

I'm from the earth, hard tilled by Serbian peasants
From the anxious chattering crowds on Ellis Island
the alchemy of fear and hope permeating all

I'm from the American fifties and sixties
Adorned with Bobbie Brooks sweaters in cranberry and plum
and every Barbie accessory imaginable -
All slowly replaced by faded jeans and peace signs, ardor and attitude

I'm from the world of freshly ground designer coffee and Windsong cologne -
Jockeying for "aroma rule" with new leather seats and steaming concrete
In the tense and anticipatory race upwards

I'm from the biology that creates new life,
Where midnight blue Crayolas and Gerber peaches give way
to Roller Ball Papermates and microwaved pizza
As babies slowly morph into men

I'm from - to my continued surprise -
The lush tropical aina, rich with volcanic ash
Infused with a sweet falsetto a'ai, cradled by a ukulele breeze

I'm from the sum total of my life.

Ask me tomorrow and I'll be from more.


(no subject)

 Had an interesting two sentence conversation with my dear friend and maternal beacon this morning. I mentioned that regardless of how much I love the tiny town in which I lived for twenty years, that I never really fit it. She abruptly turned, looked me in the eye and said, “it’s not a question of whether you fit in here. It has to do with whether or not it fits your needs.” She was dead serious and you know – I think she was right.

My adopted town is beautiful, filled to the brim with lovely people and sweet memories. It also has its share of pain and pilikia, but that’s not the point right now. The point is – I needed to leave and it had nothing to do with the community’s thoughts, feelings or perceptions of me.

There’s a safety element to living here – sheltered and secluded from the rest of the world.  Not only geographically, but also in more subtle and layered ways. For me, Hana was a place to hide out – to avoid many challenges of life.

And for a while, that was really good – a much needed respite. But frankly, I sort of overdid it. Respite can turn into stagnation, if we close our eyes to it. And that’s pretty much what happened to me.

So I moved on.

Or at least 90% of me did. What I’ve come to realize is that the part that didn’t move on contained the ideas, beliefs and attitudes – not particularly positive ones – that have been deeply rooted for years (lifetimes, perhaps) and those things steeped and simmered within my years of stagnation here.

And this week, all that changes. I’ve come to reclaim, dismantle and refresh my last ten per cent.

Wish me luck.
net and alau


As true for so many other Americans, the last decade or so has been a real uphill climb for me, financially. Layoffs, learning to be a one income household, mortgages on houses that are in ill repair with tired appliances, state employee wages, and of course the mental/emotional/esoteric back story of it all – it all becomes rather challenging, yes? Nevertheless, upon weighing the ups and downs, life itself has been pretty darn good, struggles notwithstanding.

The past year has been particularly daunting. Moving, renting, getting tangled up in the web of insanity which calls itself GMAC (if you get a chance to pick them as your mortgage holder, DON’T. Honest. Trust me on that.). For months I dealt with the threat of foreclosure, due to a largely red tape snafu until finally I decided to just put the damn house on the market. Upon making the decision, I immediately knew it was the right one. Absolutely. Not just selling the house, but the action of moving on with my life.

So I set my intention to make it happen, asking for help along the way – from legal and real estate advice, to requesting good vibes and prayer. Yep, all that. And it’s been tense and something of a race against time. But last week, “it” happened. After offers, counter offers and all that posturing, a deal was made. Ahhhh… a win-win situation for all and I can breathe a major sigh of relief.

So on Monday, my house went into escrow and I went into …

… a crazy twisty tumble of relief and regret, of sadness and doubt and mostly a feeling of “now what?” free fall. Suddenly my whole being was flooded with memories and emotions – Christmases with the boys, hanging with friends, the remnants of a dysfunctional but secure relationship, a safe and comfortable life that I still miss, in many ways.

If that wasn’t a Down the Rabbit Hole moment, I don’t know what is.

Although I’ve regained a degree of perspective, there is still a slow motion earthquake taking place beneath me. Shaky ground, unsure territory. But perfectly safe, if I navigate it wisely.

The odd thing is - this is the beginning of a new era and a very, very, very good thing.  Guess I just forgot about the 'saying goodbye' part.

Coincidentally (and you KNOW what I think of that word), the closest thing I have to a counselor or spiritual advisor will be on island this weekend. Am planning to camp out on his doorstep, I think. Like a puppy that just won’t go away until she gets enough head pats and scratches. But I digress…

The point is this:

We experience pivotal moment in our lives. Moments where the old ways that no longer serve us begin to crumble and crash – via our conscious intentions or otherwise. All we can really do is take a deep breath and say goodbye. And I'm okay with that. 

However, the part that I want to get RIGHT this time around is being conscious of what the old stuff is being replaced with. And the only way to do that is with love, gratitude and forgiveness as I let go of my past, and make the decision - with complete and total trust - to follow my soul.

What a crazy ride we’re all on, yeah?  Here's a toast to all our journeys, rich and varied as they are.