Friday, May 30, 2014

Call Me the Photographer

I finished my drink and then the Puritans took the stage, so I left the boys in possession of the table and went to take my pictures. The Puritans were everything I wanted them to be, onstage with their instruments, passionately singing along with French horn, drums, keyboards, and pulsating guitars. They were a very dynamic band, very different (and larger) from Matches, but their sound was also more majestic because of the availability of such an assortment of instruments. It became altogether more powerful, the rhythms more subtle, the build and falls, crescendos and decrescendos subtle and graceful. It was a sound that got into the body, moved the skin up and down from the inside, like a pitter-patter of fingers that was not content until it had explored every exposed piece of skin. It was music that demanded dancing.

I took several dozen more pictures, danced and swayed, and laughed in amusement asMeatloaf mumbled “I wish they’d stop playing tracks from this album, I hate this album.” They did play a good mix from their three albums and he appeared to be mollified by the end of the night. Before leaving I managed to procure a band T-shirt for the Boy, and Faust and I stepped out into the cooling evening to split a cab back toward uptown, where I was staying at the Bard’s.

“Excuse me,” said a long-dreaded 20-something smoking a cigarette. The first thing my mind thought of was feral hippy but he was not, in fact, a feral hippy, just a college kid with remarkably long dreads.

“Yes?”

“I saw you taking pictures in there.”

“Yes.”

“You have a nice camera.”

“I got sick of taking pictures on my phone.”

“Well, look, I’m from the radio station that was sponsoring the bands tonight, and I’m supposed to report on this for the college magazine, but our photographer didn’t show up and I don’t have a camera. Would you mind sending me some of your pictures? I couldn’t, you know, pay you or anything, but I’ll give you photo credit and you’re really be saving my ass.”

“Sure.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, I don’t mind. I take the pictures for me. I don’t care if you need them. You don’t have to pay me.”

“Oh, that’s awesome. Uh, how do I get them?”

I was out of business cards, as was he, and neither of us had a pen.

“I’m fairly easy to find,” I said, “Just look for the saradevil.”

“Saradevil?”

“Yes, sara, as in sara, and devil, as in “The Devil.”

“Saradevil. Got it.”

Faust smiled. “The Saradevil a magical and mythical creature.”

“That would be me.”

We moved into the night and disappeared in a cab until I made it to my home for the night.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Empty Bottles and Chicago Guys

The night was cool. Chicago was clearly confused about what spring meant, but the weather didn't seem to reflect anything like a real spring. We went back and forth between freezing cold and so hot that it was unbearable to breathe for a day, then would have a violent thunderstorm, and go back to the freezing, freezing cold.

Since I had planted my garden it had snowed twice. I'll admit that I was feeling rather done with the interminable changes in the weather. Yet, even though it was May, the weather chose not to cooperate in any reasonable way, meaning some days with a jacket and some days without.

May was turning into a busy month, with the ballet at the beginning, a show in the middle, and IML at the end. The show I was going to was These New Puritans. The Cloud Nothings were also playing that weekend, but I felt fairly sure that I was making the right choice when it came to the show. These New Puritans are a bit of a post-mod punk troop, with lots of nice drums, horns, and a duo singing lead that included both breathless female vocals and the more deep bass of a male lead. I was highly enamored of their last album, and the most recent also appeared to be quite good, so I decided to go for it. Plus, they were playing at the Empty Bottle and I hadn’t been there in a while. Prior to leaving the ballet I invited Faust to join me if he was into live music. He provided a non-committal maybe as he had plans for that evening. Either way, I was going to go.

The plan was, of course, to take the train. The Boy was out in Indianapolis and not expected back until late evening, but then he managed to make it home around four. He asked me when the train was, I said at five, and didn’t think much of it as I continued to clean the house. Until, of course, five when I was getting ready to go and checked the train schedule again to see that the train actually left as six.

“Dammit.”

“Again?”

“I don’t know why I keep reading the train schedule wrong on the weekends.”

“I told you to make sure you check the weekend schedule.”

“Yes, I know,” I said, exasperated. “And I did, I checked it twice. So, I don’t know why it’s wrong again.”

I missed the plentiful trains of my Korean home. After some discussion, in which I did say several times that I could, in fact, take the train, it was finally decided that the two of us would go together and have dinner in the city and then I would get left at the venue to enjoy the show. I found a little Italian place that did nice mussels, a good caprese salad, and some form of fish that the Boy liked. He left me full and well satisfied and I walked toward my bar, realizing rather quickly that I really, really, really needed a coffee. I’m not great after ten on a weeknight, and it takes work to push past ten on a Saturday night.

Coffee was hard to come by, but I eventually scored some. Much to my surprise Faust actually turned up, and so I had him watch my gear while I ran next door and got some weak, weak, weak ass coffee. WHO DRINKS THIS STUFF? Just because it is brown does not mean it is coffee. Granted, by coffee I usually mean two shots of espresso with an extra shot to wake me up just in case, so maybe it’s me. With lack of REAL coffee I tried to drink a couple of diet colas in the hope they would wake me up, sans booze, because I was feeling far too sleepy and didn’t want to end up passed out.

The first band was Matches, a one-woman act with an electric keyboard and the ability to spin really great sound. She had a lovely ethereal voice that floated above the myriad of chords she put on the stage. She had a sound that was reminiscent of Grimes, but somehow more mature, throatier and more real. There were lush waves of rhythm and beat that caused the body to sway, the toes to tingle. It was all rather lovely, and for an hour-and-a-bit-long set, hardly seemed like enough.

Between listening and dancing I snapped some pictures on my shiny new camera, and finally gave up the ghost on trying to get enough caffeine from diet soda and just got a vodka instead. The wait between the bands seemed to take forever, but it was pleasant and filled with conversation with Faust, who had not been to a show like this before. On this particular night the bar was not that crowded, and seemed comfortable and familiar in the dark places.

At one point I ran to the loo and when I returned I noticed that two Chicago guys were starting to encroach on the little table I had carved out. It is hard to describe them as anything other than these two Chicago guys. One was taller than the other, with dyed-blonde hair (or perhaps it just looked dyed blonde, it was so light). Of the two he looked more like Meatloaf with a spikey haircut, and his friend, who was shorter and stouter, looked for all the world like John Candy to me. It was an oddness,  but it was like two guys out of one of those old Bears skits from SNL, where any minute they might break out in explaining why the first band could be improved if Ditka was playing. While I painted them as a caricature, I was rather surprised to find that they had not just accidentally wandered into the wrong bar looking for a sports bar, but in fact, they had come out for the show.

“I love These New Puritans, and that first chick, she wasn’t bad you know,” said Meatloaf.

John Candy sat down.

“You don’t mind do you?” He asked.

“No, but if you gentlemen are going to be taking my seat for a bit I figure you should buy a girl a drink.”

Shameless? Me? Always.

They did buy me a drink and I left them to talk to Faust a bit about interests and music. Finally I asked John Candy what he liked to do. He said he liked to fish.

“What kind of angler are you?” I asked.

“Angler, get a load of her,” he says to Meatloaf.

“No, seriously, do you go for big-game fish, lake fish, fish in rivers? Fly fishing? You look like a fly fisherman.”

“I’ve been thinking about fly fishing but I haven’t done it.”

“You seem the type. You like the quiet, the meditation of fishing, but also the hunt, and fly fishing has those aspects.”

John Candy’s eyes got wide. “Honey, you should be a salesman, cause whatever you are selling I want to buy.” To Faust: “Where did you find her?”

Faust just smiled.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dance as the Story, the Story as Dance.

The theater was like one of those old Chicago theaters. As soon as you got there you were surrounded by concrete and stone and a wonder of those architects from the 1920’s. What must they have thought when they sketched those beautiful monsters? Buildings with solid feet and deep foundations, buildings meant to stand as long as the Parthenon, buildings designed to age and become timeless. There was something living inside these stones, a story about the sheer audacity of man to build in defiance of nature, of time, of people. A structure that would not be swayed or buried or lost in time. Perhaps a story of hubris lay in the stones as well. There was something about the cavernousness nature of Chicago, the streets a valley between mountains sculpted and crafted by men and women with unique and unusual visions.

It is a strange and beautiful city.

This was a strange and beautiful theater. Inside, the Auditorium Theater, was also spacious and lush, with marble and art deco sculptures lining the walls, creamy silk curtains hanging and swinging about around you, so that you felt that you had walked from the strong concrete and stone into a lush harem designed to be sumptuous and comfortable.

I met Faust outside and dragged him in with me. I was already swept up in the crowd, the music, and the nightand the wine I had with dinner didn’t hurt. I thought to have one more glass of wine, and even bought one, but sadly the theater did not serve great wine. (A shame for such ritual hedonism as the theater is that they couldn't afford a sommelier to help them choose a bottle that went well with the theater.) The glass I bought got left on a table. I procured water instead, and then worked my way with my date toward my box seats.

Truly, I was excited about the box seats. Perhaps a bit wrong, perhaps one too many viewings of French period movies and Dangerous Liaisons, or maybe one too many books about the intrigue that was offered in those box seats. The price was reasonable and this was my first time to see a traditional ballet live. While I love Hubbard, it is not classical ballet, and I do enjoy all forms of dance. However, for all my time going to theaters to see things, I had yet to see actual classical dance in the theater. While I think Swan Lake is pretty, it seems like it is always playing at "That is not that damn ballet I want to see." I want to see something beautiful, classical, and lovely, with a story I care about. Romeo and Juliet was a perfect choice.

The box had four comfy chairs, and much to my surprise no one else joined us in the box, so we had two overstuffed and lush comfy chairs all to ourselves, with a very good view of the stage. Next to us in the box ahead was a family of four with two little girls, who both found me fascinating. I smiled at them and they smiled back.

“Is this your first ballet?” I quietly whispered to one of the girls. She gave me a wide-eyed nod in answer. I smiled again and whispered quietly, “Mine too.”

“Are you excited?” I asked Faust.

“Yes, I think so, I…don’t know quite what to expect.”

“I thought you liked the ballet?”

“I think I do; I’ve never seen it live before.”

Well that made two of us. And almost like a snap, the lights fell away and there was nothing but darkness and the light on the stage. The strings in the orchestra pit played one last settling note, and after that the conductor whipped them in to the first jaunty measures of Prokofiev, and then dancers took the stage.

Even though it was traditional, their costuming was reminiscent of the 1930s and clearly the stage designer had decided to set this particular showing during the more modern era. The updated costuming did not distract from the dance though, and the troupe was masterful. Romeo was tall and lithe and moved across the stage with a cocky sort of grace that you would expect from the brash hero, but Mercutio. There was a dancer who will haunt my dreams. His entire body vibrated with merriment and mirth. His actions, his movements everyone were light and comical; you could almost see with each spin and turn him saying with his body “No insult intended, of course,” and hear phantom whispers of the laugh that would follow. Gods, he was perfect.

Capulet’s theme took over the stage. Dark and powerful, the patriarch of House Capulet was almost half a head taller than dear Romeo, a giant of a man, with features that were as Italian as the country the play was set in. He movements were like that of a lion and he prowled the stage with such fearsome grace I would have swooned straight out of my box and dropped to the floor below. Tybalt as he entered was also a good embodiment of who he was: short, overconfident as if trying to compensate, every muscle loaded and ready to spring, every action a reaction, without control, as if he had no control. Mercutio played him beautifully.

And then finally, there was Juliet. She looked as light as air on the stage, surrounded by the giants of men, even though not all were nearly as tall as either Capulet or Romeo, but still, she was engulfed by them. Timid and shy, but at the same time curious, her dance across the stage was perfectly balanced, her body moving with music in a way that conveyed both lack of experience and extreme curiosity about life. She was the purest vision of innocence; her love at first sight was almost like an attack on her muscles, bringing about both power, conviction, and pure confusion all at once.

Aside from some weird use of film, the production was absolutely splendid. Faust turned out to be a good date, enjoying the music and the dance quietly from his seat just behind me, and when the dancers reached the final act in the tombs I felt that it had all ended too soon, even though it had been two hours of nothing but storytelling through body movement.

So lovely, every inch of it. My next dance will be Hubbard Street again, but I do look forward to sneaking in more of this while I can.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Date for the Ballet

In April I kept getting notices that the Joffery Ballet was doing a special two-week run of Romeo and Juliet. I’m on all the snooty art mailing lists now, both because of my subscription to Hubbard and my membership at the Art Institute. This is fine; this pleases me.

Things that are true: I adore the ballet, which was as much a surprise to me when I first learned it as it would have been to anyone else. I also adore Shakespeare, and while it is as cliche as a teenage girl saying her favorite book is Wuthering Heights, I admit that Romeo and Juliet has always been my favorite of all the plays.

There's some kind of magic poetry in Shakespeare's words that have haunted me since I first watched the play, which was when I was around eight or nine I believe. I do adore Shakespeare. I’ve seen interesting productions of Hamlet, and Macbeth. I enjoyed Titus Andronicus (which hardly anyone likes). I’ve seen and read King Lear, and while I enjoyed his comedies I liked Much Ado about Nothing more than A Midsummer Night's Dream. I like Shakespere's love of violence and gore, his fascination with romance, his wit, his characters. His strong protagonist Othello, and his bombastic Caesar. What is not to love? The man was truly a genius. At the same time, Romeo and Julietwhich is like the cotton candy of all his worksis still my favorite.

After being barraged by all the advertisements to attend, I knew it was going to be impossible for me NOT to attend. I finally broke down and looked at the tickets. Surprisingly enough, there were box tickets available for opening night weekend. Also, these tickets where in the nature of what I considered “very reasonably priced.” Having never been to the ballet quite like this before, I figured hell, why not? and got two tickets.

And almost immediately regretted it because now I needed a date.

I asked the Boy.

“You want me to go to the ballet?"

"It’s Romeo and Juliet.”

“Is it inappropriate for me to chew off my own arm to escape?”

“I could promise you that you’ll get lucky.”

“Lucky because I won’t have to go?”

We want on like this for two days, so I started asking around and seeing if I could find a friend to go. I wanted to go with someone who was not in my regular social circle, but after having asked everyone who was a part of my new and developing social circle via Kinky Chicago, I was starting to feel at a loss.

In desperation, I actually put a shout out through my regular networks. No response.

I was losing hope. However, I figured at least the money was going to go to a good cause. Then, rather out of the blue-ish, one of my new friends from the kink community asked if I had found someone yet.

“Why, do you like the ballet?”

“I am not opposed.”

“You’re it!”

And so, I had a date, Faust, who would accompany me to see the ballet. And, it was only at like the last minute, so everything worked out fine.

On Friday the plan was to meet Faust at the theater, since it would take him slightly longer to get there than me. Considering, I decided I would take myself to dinner at one of my favorite places where I sat at the bar, read a book written from the point of view of a zombie while eating my dinner, and chatted up a few strangers. I do miss bars in Korea. So much easier to chat up people than in America. Sometimes I think this is the thing I miss the most about not living in Korea anymore, just being able to randomly talk to anyone, because we are all strangers here.

As the hour neared, I put on my coat and hopped down the street toward the theater and Shakespeare.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lovely Ladies Lounging

The trip ended with us lying on the beach most of the day together. Aside from being rather painfully brained by the lawn chairs we rented, and spending about an hour worrying about whether or not I had a concussion, there was not much excitement.

We had both bought two swimsuits, and had both found one that suited better than the other. Much to our mutual amusement we had bought identical swimsuits and those were the ones we despised. I ended up staying with my black bathing suit, and for our second trip to the beach, she wore a red bathing suit.

I sat in my lawn chair, read a book, pressed a cold bottle against my head, and watched her swim. She bought a swim float and blew it up, while sitting in the lawn chair with the most enchanting smile on her face, until finally she had a large Technicolor ducky that she could use to float in the water. In the early morning, on the beach in the resort neighborhood, there were not many people. The weather was not perfect, threatening to rain, with dark clouds blowing in over the palm trees overhead; however, the sun was still shining in parts, and the water was calmly lapping at the shore as we took turns playing in the waves. My turn was short as the exertion made me quickly dizzy—I probably didn't suffer a concussion, but took enough of a hit that I felt it better to take it easy rather than risk it.

Later we walked to a beach bar where we had the audacity to ask to be seated in the “no screaming children” section, so we could order drinks and eat at each other. We were accommodated in our request, but that didn’t stop families from coming into the place, and (against our will) we did end up within proximity of screaming children.

It didn’t matter.

Nothing mattered in that moment.

There was only her.

Only me.

We sipped our drinks, sat back in our chairs, and were mostly quiet. Thinking. Enjoying each other. Enjoying the food. Walking hand in hand on the beach paths and kissing, like lovers do, as the wind whipped up and gentle tendrils of rain tickled our skin without much consistency.

We were the moment. Together.

The next day was quiet at home. We ate, we drank, we talked to our hosts, we watched the rain come and go and fall over the island that is Maui. Later we fell asleep in the dark, me not wanting to accept that she was going, her ready to go early in the morning. When I woke she was already gone, her flight being much earlier than mine.

She woke me as she was heading outvery early; outside was nothing but darkness. “I love you, I have to go.” I was half awake, half dreaming, half out of my mind, I wanted to bury myself in dreams and wake up to an erased moment, with her instead in my bed, in my arms. I drifted back to sleep.

When I woke again in the morning, she was gone.

My trip home was long but uneventful. The only thing for it now is to plan new trips.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Beaches and Magic Drum Circles











Sunday, May 18, 2014

Swimming in the Pacific

The beach we were going to was not far outside the little main “downtown” area of Haiku. The day was wet with clouds, but the beach, and the Pacific were still resplendent. The Artist and I had been in our suits most of the day, and so, after claiming a spot by an old abandoned house (“It was built too close to the ocean and flooded often, but it was something back in the day,” informed Code) we ran off to the beach, leaving Darque and Code to enjoy the canopy and the weather themselves.

The Pacific roared in front of us, up and down, grey murky water and big breaking waves. A few people were body boarding and surfing. The Artist ventured in and it was at the moment I put my toes in the water that I realized I was actually scared.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m terrified.”

“What?”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in the Pacific.”

“You can swim, can’t you?”

“Yes, it’s just, I don’t know.”

“You know what to do in case of riptide?”

“Yes, we have that on Lake Michigan. I don’t know why I’m so terrified. It’s exciting though.”

“Be careful coming in; the shoreline drops of abruptly.” She swam out and I watched her bob up and down in the waves, in a swimsuit that did all sorts of awesome things to her breasts. I took a breath and dove forward, plunging into the wave of water, the best way for me to do it. I always preferred being underwater to over it.

When I was younger I could be in the water for hours. I have a ridiculous ability to hold my breath underwater. After being underwater long enough I could swear that I was breathing underwater, but maybe it’s just that I could stay down for close to two minutes without a problem. Granted, this was when I was younger and before my asthma became an enormous problem. Still, I preferred to be a fish: fully immersed rather than floating. I dove into the wave, leaned out my body and swam toward the Artist, popping up not far away.

The big wave caught me and tossed me up and down, causing me to panic and splash the waves for no good reason.

“Are you okay?’

“Yes, still a little terrified but okay.” Thee terror was not necessarily bad. The fear was a combination of arousal and nervousness that eventually gave way to satisfaction as I moved past it and overcame it. I will not fear…

“Stop splashing so much; just kick gently with your feet,” she instructed, as I righted myself in the warm waters.

“Why?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“Yes.”

“Sharks are attracted to the splashing.” I almost immediately started splashing again.

“Okay, I wish you hadn’t told me that.”

“You asked.” She smiled and we bobbed up and down in the water for a while. Enjoyed the warmth of it, enjoying the novelty. Enjoying my terror giving way to calm. Watching gatherings happening on the shores. Eventually the rain broke through the clouds and so we swam in on the waves and worked our way back to Code and Darque, who were enjoying their time on our little covered patio.

“Oh, I hate this swimsuit,” exclaimed the Artist, trying desperately to get rocks out of the bust cups that were apparently designed to catch all rocks on the shore.

“Technically it is legal to be topless on the beaches in Hawaii.” And with that we both took turns pulling the tops off our suits and shaking out the debris inside. The rain was coming down slightly more earnestly now. We discussed dinner plans and decided to place an order in town for some takeout sushi. We gathered up our things to make our way back home.

“We should go see that drum circle.”

The circle had been forming for a bit and we had watched several hippies (at least one of them Feral) carrying drums over for the circle. We put back on our sandals and moved across the beach toward the gathering. It was a small circle; a few of the elder hippies passed a joint back and forth as they started beating on the drums. A woman stood in the center of the circle and started dancing. Off to the side two younger girls were taking turns moving a hula hoop around their waists, necks and hands. The rain was soft in the trees as we watched; there was powerful magick here. The entire island vibrated with it. I could see how people go to Hawaii and never leave.

We stood watching, the Artist and I, hands clasped together, swaying with the music, happy just to be near each other, to touch for that moment and for all the moments we would miss before seeing each other again.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bed and Breakfast

The next day there was some discussion of what we were going to do and in the end, it seemed the best thing to do was to go to the beach and explore this ocean that we kept seeing. It turned out that both Code and Darque would have some free time that day and would be able to join us on the beach. We lazed about the house, eating cheese, drinking wine, talking, and entertaining (as we are want to do), until we finally got to a point in the afternoon where we could all get ourselves together to head toward the beach.

Every drive on this island was glorious and magical. Our hosts pointed out things and explained important points here and there on the trip.

“You see the tents on the beach?” asked Code.

“Yes.”

“They are not supposed to be there. They passed an ordinance so people would not be able to sleep on the beaches here.”

It took me a moment, and then again I had the realization that this was a state that didn't experience the brutal cold of the Chicago winter. Since we had been living in a state of perpetual freeze for close to nine years (okay, perhaps hyperbole) it was hard to imagine living in a place that was always this beautiful sunshine and warm. How it is always so damn warm here?

Wouldn’t I get sick of it if it was always like this?

Maybe.

“So to keep people from living on the beaches all the time they passed an ordinance.” This was a real problem. Homelessness is just as bad in Hawaii as any other state in the union. People lost jobs, their homes, everything but their cars. Entire families, roamed around in SUVs with no place to live. So the families would take to living out of the cars while working, trying to make enough to maybe afford a new house again. Working to keep the children fed, to get back a center line. And while this was all going on they lived on the beach. If you didn't mind living out of a tent you could have a rather permanent home on the beaches of Hawaii. Hence, the ordinance.”

The ordinance was basically worded so that you could not be on the beach after certain hours, unless you were fishing. (Because, of course, fishing is important and you can’t always fish during the day so fishing at night is acceptable.)

“So, a lot of people will pitch their tents and set up their fishing poles and then hunker down for the night. They might put a bell on the poll if they really want to catch something,” explained Code. Essentially, if you were homeless in Hawaii you probably owned a tent or bed roll, a fishing pole, and most likely a car; assuming you didn't just want to hitchhike here and there.

As we drove I saw it now, on the tiny little beach outlets, a few tent villages scattered here and there and poles dangling in the water, as if they meant to catch something: maybe, maybe not.

“It’s almost like a bed and breakfast. Go to sleep, wake up and eat fish,” I offered.

“Something like that.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Getting to the Heart of It

We bought eight bottles of wine and a ton of groceries. The elfin Darque caught up with us in the shop and helped us load things into the car. “You know I’m going to make you cook all this,” I quipped at the Artist.

“Oh really?”

“Yes.”

“Fine.”

She did cook it up. And she did a beautiful job of it. I sat and drank wine as she moved, chatting with our hosts, but most of the time with an eye on her, watching her move about the room, watching her planning and plotting the cooking out. I loved to watch her in the kitchen. I thought back to my last morning in Korea, watching her move about the kitchen, making a last breakfast for both of us to share. I thought back to our run in with the ajjuma that afternoon, I thought back to her life in Korea and mineso far away from Korea for now. There were many memories all wrapped up in it.

In the end, dinner was perfect and included an artichoke, which we shared between us. We pulled the leaves off, working our way down to the heart of it, and as it revealed itself and its colors through the layers, I felt just as naked and exposed, pulling off little shells of protection that I had been adding on ever since I'd left Korea. Feeling completely happy, completely satisfied in the company of friends. Perhaps I was still lonely in Chicago, with so few friends that I can feel open with, or perhaps there was still that lingering missing I have of travel, other countries, other places.

We worked our way to the heart of the matters, sipping wine, drinking, being in the moment and the now, in love, and living.









Wednesday, May 14, 2014

This Always Happens When I'm Shopping

We finished our lunch, my tequila, her tequila. I drank something called a Cabo Wabo on the Artist's instruction/advice, and I had to say I mightily enjoyed it.

“All right, where to now?” she asked.

“I’m thinking we walk over to the bottle shop, get some wine, then do the grocery thing and buy some food for breakfasts and dinners so we don’t eat our hosts out of house and home.”

It was agreed, and so we started to walk. We walked into a little silver-and-sarong shop where I saw a pretty pink sarong that I adored, but decided I would consider/buy later. In the meantime we pressed forward and found that next to the wine shop there was a little clothing store.

“Do you mind if we peak in? I just want to look.”

“Of course not; they have those dresses you like. I almost bought one for you, but I thought you might go shopping.” She smiled. The woman knew me well. The shop was probably what you would expect on Maui, a bit touristy but with many pretty dresses and wraps, and things that would look good for relaxing and for beach wear.

As we walked the friendly Asian owner walked over to us and offered to help us with anything we needed. I responded that we would be fine. The Artist was ahead of me looking about, and the woman asked her where she was from, to which she replied that she was from Florida via Korea.

Gwaenchanhayo? Nanun hangumal haseygoita?”

Moya!” I replied, “Nonun hanguk saramyo?” I asked, to the total shock to the ajjuma.

“Oh, nae, hanguk saraum, no hanguk saram?”

Andiyo, nanun yungulgyosunimeayyo,” I replied back. As soon as she asked the Artist if she spoke Korean my brain flipped a switch and that was all she wrote.

“Her Korean is better than mine,” the Artist smiled.

From there the ajjuma and I quickly broke into a conversation about where I was from, why I was there, what we were looking for, and what we needed.

“Oh, yeah, okay, here, this, yapuda, nae! You try this on. On you, eepiyo.”

From there it was an absolute frenzy of pulling things of shelves, accepting or rejecting them, and tossing them about. Finally, I insisted the Artist start trying things on, and much to her dismay made her buy a very sexy blue-striped dress that I insisted she bring on our next trip. While she was trying things on I mentioned to the ajjuma that we were in a bit of a hurry (sansangnim, bali-baliyo!) to which she replied in rapid-fire Korean that she understood and we would hurry. It was at that moment that some additional tourists entered the shop, while she was still speaking to me in Korean.

“Oh, hi, if you need anything, just let me know, sorry for not speaking English,” and then she turned back to me and grabbed and dress and insisted in Korean that this dress would be perfect for me. Then she grabbed me, tossed the dress over my head, and over my clothes and dragged me to the mirror.

“Ya, you see, maja.”

I just started laughing, and looked at the ajjuma, pointed to the dress and pointed to the mirror and just said, “Sunsangnim, Korean style!” We both burst out laughing. I don’t think that she would have considered throwing clothes over someone else’s outfit to get them to try it on had it been anyone other than a Korean in her shop, but somehow, within all fifteen minutes that we were in that shop, she could just as easily have been in Itaewon or Insadong or even (gods forbid), Gangnam, selling just as hard and throwing a dress over a foreigner's head to make that sale; in Korea, a totally acceptable sales tactic. We even negotiated prices in Korean and I talked her down twenty dollars on both my pieces and the Artist's pieces, and she gave us some “service” in the form of bracelets that she picked out.

As we left, a bit more bagged down with clothes, to the bottle shop, the Artist just laughed.

“She totally just took us for a ride.”

“Yeah, I know, but it was worth it.”

“You enjoyed every second of it.”

“Yeah.”

I did. I missed Korea, and had she just been a seller on Maui with cute dresses, I doubt we would have spent much money in there at all, but she was Korean, and because of that, I ended up with two dresses and a bracelet, and yet another amusing run in with my home away from home.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Drinking Ladies

First order of business: eat awesome Mexican food and drink brightly colored drinks. Mission accomplished.









Friday, May 09, 2014

Feral Hippies

This sort of self-reliant self-employment was employed at various places on the island. And of course, since the weather was always warm and pleasant, there were also the Feral Hippies.

“I’m sorry, what?”

Darque was telling about letting some Feral Hippies stay in the back field of the property for the winter while they figured out what to do with it.

“What is a Feral Hippy?”

“Makes perfect sense to me,” said the Artist.

The entire concept was foreign to me.

“What is a Feral Hippy?” I asked again.

“Well, it’s kind of a hippy that has gone to seed. They have gone completely wild here, uncaged, free to be and do whatever they want.”

The explanation was difficult for me to follow at first, but then it started to make more sense. In a land of sunshine with hardly any rain, where food grew so easily that you could actually make money by keeping food from destroying property, where there was sand and beaches to sleep on, few dangerous predators, and not much need for cash if you didn’t spend to excess, it would be very easy to go to seed here.

“Feral hippy.” I rolled the concept around on my brain until we finally packed up to go to lunch. The car poured down the coast where waves lapped against the shore, the wind blowing, and riding on it a thousand colorful windsurfers on the water. The air was moist and humid, with mountains ringed with circles of fog and clouds in the distance. Everything smelled fresh and clean, and vibrant there; it was impossible to ignore the pleasantness all around. My hand slipped into the Artist's and we smiled and talked as we drove toward the town.

Darque took us on a quick tour before dropping us off, pointing out shops we might enjoy, giving us directions to the local wine shop (of course!), and finally leading us around to the grocery store before heading off to her class. The Artist and I worked our way back around to the Mexican place that had been pointed out for some pleasant afternoon tequila, margaritas, and fresh food. With limes.

And guacamole.

We basked resplendent and perfect in the afternoon, sitting on the balcony and watching people go by. At one point a man wearing old shorts, dreads to his knees, a grey knapsack, and a ukulele strapped to his back walked by, shaggy beard, worn sandals, and all.

“Feral Hippy! I get it now.”

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Hawaiian History Lessons

We managed to sleep in a polite amount for two women who both are used to getting up at close to four in the morning. I think we managed to roll out of bed around nine a.m. without too much trouble. I do love waking up next to that woman.

Our morning was lazy and defined by making ourselves plates of cheese and breakfast, and plotting what sort of groceries we should pick up in town. Darque was off to school in the afternoon, so we mostly just hung out and talked with our hosts until she was ready to give us a drive. We spent a lot of time learning about Maui.

As an island there were places that were always sunny and places that were more prone to rain. We were staying in a slightly more rainy district of the island. Getting around required a car and most people rented something when they landed. Hitchhiking was an option, but the public bus system ran on island time so it was not really convenient. Nor were there many buses around where we were staying. The weather was always pleasant, the island was lush and beautiful, and we were coming at the beginning of spring so it was wetter and rainier in Haiku than usual. There were a few places to shop nearby and get fish and food, and buy groceries, as that was on our list of things to do.

It is not unusual to buy land in a set. In this particular instance the house we were staying in came with a downstairs apartment and a cottage next door. The downstairs was occupied by mother, and next door was being rented by Code’s brother. The area was also zoned as part of an agricultural district, so they had to figure out what they were going to grow and sell to show that they were in fact agricultural. There was some talk of potential avocado trees as that would be easy enough to work with.

Code’s brother hunted deer, which were plentiful and abundant on the island of Maui. They were not supposed to be there, of course, but at some point someone thought that deer hunting would be great and released a few breeding pairs on the island. The result was deer everywhere. Unlike deer on the mainland that were confined to specific breeding seasons by the weather, deer on Maui were a nuisance more like rabbits, with a never-ending breeding cycle. Of course, Code’s brother had a number of different things he did for work, including collecting coconuts. Part of his work was to head around the neighborhoods and cut ripe coconuts off of trees overhanging driveways before the they could fall out of the tree and smash the cars underneath. He then sold them at local farmers' markets.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Anticipated Meetings

While waiting for my bag to come off the belt I kept looking around the airport scanning the features of people, looking for my lady love and our hosts for this trip to Hawaii: Code and the lovely Darque. In the fourth scan I finally saw all three of them standing not too far away, looking like a angelic trio of long-haired models. It was the kind of sight that can to take one's breath away, and I was certainly happy to see all three. I walked over, grabbed the woman I loved, and kissed her passionately.

“That’s right; we can’t get arrested here.”

“Not as far as I know.” In my head all I could think about was just how much I had missed her. Being separated too long had been agony, but it was so good, so pleasant, and so comfortable to see her again, that I figured I could handle just about anything life was going to throw our way for the next few days. As it stood, the plan was that life would not throw much at all.

“I brought you a flower.” Darque handed me a pretty pink flower and gave me a hug. Hugs were exchanged with Code as well.

“It is good to finally meet you in person.” I smiled as my bag came off the belt and we headed toward the car.

The night was warm and damp and delicious, and my hand held the hand of someone I adore. I’d been in Hawaii only a few minutes and already it was the most magical place on Earth. The sky was cloudy off and on. “Maui has some really interesting weather, depending on where you are on the island. This part of the island tends to be pretty rainy. Sometimes people joke about it, that the airport is not a good representation of the rest of the island. We live out in Haiku which is pretty rainy, but we can go places where there won’t be rain.”

As we drove, Darque took us through a tour in her mind, pointing out the lights on the mountains here and there, and explaining what we were seeing. At times, we saw waters swelling, white tips in the semi-dark night, illuminated by moonlight casting here and there. The night was full of darkness, mysterious and beautiful. The Artist and I were pressed together in the backseat holding hands. The conversations wandered between the island and talk of the flight itself. We recounted adventures of other journeys we had taken together until we finally arrived at the pretty little house surrounded by dark night and warm, wet ground. The Artist’s feet sank into the mud and we hefted our bags toward the house, but managed not too much the worse for wear.

Our room was lovely and private. The house was also peaceful and quiet. Glasses of wine, pieces of cheese, light conversations, and cat shooing all occurred until finally we all retired, The Artist and I because of the travel and excitement, our hosts because we had kept them up well past their bedtime. We made plans for the morrow and then all retired. My sweet reward for the long flight was falling asleep next to the beautiful woman I adored while listening to wind, and rain, and the sounds of a vibrant island nightlife sparkling outside.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

This One Time in Korea, My Luggage Got Booted

Join me for a trip down memory lane...

On my last trip to Korea, returning before the great Korean breakup of August 2014, I was on a flight back, bring with me (in a fairly ordinary fashion) a suitcase full of gear. On this particular trip, though, I had a shit tonne more gear than normal, as I had stopped by IML and bought a bunch of gear for the Irish per his request.

This gear included several beautifully balanced metal-handled whips. When packing, I thought nothing of the fact that I had all the gear in one bag, although I did consider for a moment the possibility of separating it. Instead I just went ahead and packed it all up, nestling the whips in between panties, dildos, and restraints. Eventually, I was on my merry way.

Imagine my surprise when two days later I get off the plane to retrieve my bags and found that the gear bag was wearing something funny. Upon closer inspection I realized that my bag was wearing a boot. The boot looked roughly like a lock with a large plastic part and a strap around the handle. As I saw the bag coming towards me all I could think was fuck.

I pulled the bag off the belt and considered the possibility of going to a nearby bathroom and trashing my gear. Not optimal. I had close to three grand worth of gear in that bag and some pieces I had owned for close to 15 years. I was not ditching my gear.

So, going through customs it was. The bathroom idea was quickly put to bed when, as I was walking, the boot started to sing. It belted out this happy, friendly tune, clearly designed to alert everyone that my bag had questionable contraband and I was going to have to answer for it.

Fuck.

I eyed the customs desk and worked to figure out the best plan. At customs there were four lines open. Three were manned by ajjumas who looked grumpy and tired. One was manned by a younger Korean man. I was waved into a line with an ajjuma, but I played stupid foreigner and went straight for the line with the young man.

As I pulled up, I started the “I can’t imagine why I’m here” speech, which he smiled at and shyly ignored why taking off the singing boot and placing it on a reader. The boot had an X-ray attached. On the X-ray I could see handles for five or more floggers, all with metal handles. Gear I brought back specifically for the Irish.

“Do you have weapon?” asked the friendly customs agent.

“Weapon? No sir, of course not.”

“I have open your bag, okay?”

“Yes, but I don’t have any weapons.” Considering how nervous I was, it was sort of surprising I wasn’t sweating, I was just sort of trying to figure out how to play this. As the young customs agent began to unzip my bag, out fell a dildo.

Perfect.

I grabbed the dildoa big double-ended pink dickand started waving it at the customs agent.

“I have a dildo in my bag,” I said, smiling.

He just looked at me.

Another dildo fell out of my bag. I picked that one up too and waved it around, along with the first dildo.

“Maybe it was my DILDO?”I said it loud, much louder than necessary, while waving my dildos like the flag of sexual deviance they were meant to be.

He looked at me, stunned. “How many dildos do you have?”

I shrugged and did my best impression of coy. “Like, five?”

It was if something snapped in him, I waved the dildos again to emphasize that I had five, and he lunged toward me, grabbed my hand, stuffed the dildos in the suitcase, and started zipping as fast as possible.

“You go, you go now.” Without ever having opened my bag he shoved it (now zipped) and dildos in place, down the belt and pushed it onto the floor.

“Go, go, go.” With that, he practically drop kicked me out the doors and into Korea.

Saved by dildos again.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Warm Landing

After 300 months of winter this was a nice change of pace. I would have been happy to just hang out in the natural air of the airport and be warm for the next three days. I think that would have been fine. But this was not the point of being in Hawaii. Aside from a much-needed vacation, I was meeting my lady love, the Artist, and I could not wait to see her. I had all the nervous butterflies-in-stomach giddiness on top of the way-too-much-flying jet lag. I was feeling a little sweaty, sticky, and slightly crampy (damn you uterus), but it didn’t matter because she was somewhere in that airport and I wanted to see her. 

Several good scans did not reveal her beautiful form, so I found the baggage belt and waited for a bag to appear. I think I would have gone without checking it if I thought I could have gotten away with it, but the reality was that I was packing gear that I didn’t want to have to explain, on top of packing gear I didn’t want to have confiscated, and I really didn’t want to relive the experience of having my luggage booted like on my last trip to Korea.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Purgatorial Terminals

The day to depart finally arrived. In a slightly out-of-order move that demonstrates the power of espresso martini, I had somehow managed to pack my bag after my gardening spree, so I was mostly ready to go, aside from the usual odds and ends I generally tend to forget to put together before a trip. It usually all makes it in the bag anyway. I got everything ready to go, piled into the car and sped off to Chicago. I spent the night at a pretty little hotel on the Mile with a lovely view of the lake. Since my first flight was leaving at 6 a.m. I needed to get to the airport at 4 and the drive from the house would have meant leaving around 2 a.m., so this seemed easier all around. 

This meant getting on the plane feeling very tired, but I managed to make it. I figured since I was going to be flying all day I’d probably manage to do some sleeping, but I think I was mistaken about the sleeping part, as I spent the better part of my time reading. When I landed at the first transfer point, I was feeling awake and wanting lunch.

Unfortunately, I was stranded in the back terminal from hell in Seattle. I mean, literally, it was like the terminal that time forgot. Aside from a poor food court that sported a Chick-fil-A, there was not much going on there. I wandered around the entire circumference of this circular airport, realizing very quickly that it was a very small terminal. I had closets that were bigger. Deciding on the bar, I looked again for the bar, which was named something like “Bigfoot's Paradise.” It featured much kitsch and Americana memorabilia, and I decided that I was just going to somehow have to buck up and deal. 

I sat near the bar, and even though it was early thought I might have a drink. While perusing a menu that was nothing but carbs piled upon other carbs (with carbs on top in case you were worried you were going to miss out on some carbs), I listened to what was going on behind the counter. Being that this was a quasi all-day-diner-bar, the menu included breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, representing the best of American cuisine, which meant Chinese, Mexican, and Cajun dishes were all featured somewhere on the menu, because America. Also, moonshine; lots of moonshine. 

The discussion that interested me was from the Chinese cooks behind the counter who kept calling out orders to each other in Chinese, until someone would walk by and shout out very loudly “English.”

“[speaking in Chinese]”

“Speak English!”

“Burritos and [Chinese]”

“I said speak English!”

“[Chinese speaking]”

“English.”

A Chinese waitress told the two older female cooks to try to speak in English and tried to explain to the guy that kept yelling English that as long as they cooked things right it shouldn’t matter. I listened along, amused. It didn’t stop the entire hour I sat there. 

Finally, boredom, the smell of bad food, and the worst Irish coffee in the history of Irish coffees later, I figured I'd go for a walk again. Around the circle I went, realizing at that point my body was charged and really wanted to work out. 

So I thought fuck it, found a small spot in the terminal, tossed off my bags and went into a short Tabata routine, much to the amusement of everyone around me. Fortunately, if Korea had done anything for me it was to teach me how to not care about people staring at me for doing things that come naturally. Sweaty, but none the worse for wear, I headed on to flight the second, and finally managed to get to flight the third after a wretched and an “I-Hate-It-So-Much” LAX experience. Apparently I had taken the purgatorial flight route on this trip, with layovers in the worst terminals in America. 

All in all, after an amount of time almost equivalent of flying to Korea, I finally managed to make my destination and touch down in Maui.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Espresso Martini Power


Maybe it was the weather, although I doubt it.

Most likely it was the espresso martini.

“Do we have gloves?”

“Why do you want gloves?”

“I want garden gloves.”

“Why do you want garden gloves?”

“I want to garden.”

“I want to take a nap.”

“You can take a nap; I want to garden.”

My love was amused but gave me his heavy leather gloves anyway, as we did not have gardening gloves.

“We need to get gardening gloves for me.”

“You hate gardening.”

“No I don’t. I just haven’t had time.”

“Are you feeling okay?”

“I feel fine.”

“How much did you have to drink?”

“Go take your nap!”

Two years ago my love had put in square-foot garden boxes in the yard. During the first year the garden produced occasional food: broccoli, peppers, eggplant, zucchini. It was planted ramshackle, which appealed to my love. The next year everything was eaten by animals before we had a chance to, although the gardens were mostly untended. Mint went wild in the lawn and the thyme was creeping over everything. As I was home this year, I wanted to show my approval of the garden boxes by helping out.

And apparently on this particular first warm afternoon in seven months, I wanted to go all out. I put on the gloves, a pair of paint-covered jeans and a hoodie and spent the next two hours pulling weeds and turning earth with the big shovel. By the time the air was starting to really cool and a promised thunderstorm was preparing to roll in, I had managed to turn six of the seven garden boxes to fresh earth.

When the Boy woke up he came to look at my handiwork, and while still suspicious, seemed otherwise  pleased. The next day, still feeling a need to garden, we hit the hardware store and I picked up some gloves a spade, and seeds. More hoeing, raking, and turning later I had the boxes fixed into pretty rows for gardening. I decided to hold off on trying to plant anything.

“You know it’s going to snow now, now that I’ve done all this work. If I try to plant anything it will get snowed on.”

“It is supposed to be colder tomorrow.”

That night the weather report said some snow, but it would not stick. We got three to four inches of snow overnight and it stuck just fine. I figured the rest of my gardening ambitions would hold until I got back from Hawaii.