Thursday, May 21, 2015

You down wit' PCC? Yeah, you know me!

The third day we were in Oahu, we visited the Polynesian Cultural Center.  It was one of the highlights of Hawaii for me 20 years ago, and was just as awesome this time.  I love learning about the cultures of each island nation and watching the native dances and listening to the native songs.  I wish we had had more time there.  It's arranged kind of like Disneyland...?  You walk around, visiting little "villages":  Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, etc. and watch presentations and play games and make stuff.  It's fantastic.

Do you know how much I love the Mauris??  Their chant-with-chest-pounding thing is my favorite thing ever!!!
In the Hawaiian area, we made these fish yoyo things out of palm fronds.  Ben is holding his and posing in front of one of the boats the natives used to use:
I saw on our flight home (the only free TV available was this docuseries on Hawaii) that there has been a revived use of these old boats to sail to other islands like they used to.  I thought that was interessant.  More stuff from the Hawaii area:

The dude in the above picture who is singing and playing the gourd thingey told us that only 25% of the population of Hawaii is made up of native islanders.  He said it's too expensive to live there, so many islanders have to move to the mainland to live.  Isn't that a shame??

Oh, and Ben and I got temporary Mauri tattoos.  Mine stands for strength.  His stands for family, I think:

They had this cool parade-on-a-river thing that was fun to watch.  I watched all of the dancing closely that day, obviously.  It was interesting to see the differences in the style of costume and dance.  The Fijian dance that the men did mimed warfare and battle:
The dancing of the Samoans was just very fun-loving.  They wore tall plumes in their hair and tilted their heads sometimes to make the feathers tilt. 

They also did a lot of hooting and hollering.  So did the Tongans.  I feel like Samoa and Tonga are the party islands.  :)
Tahitians are the ones who have exaggerated hip movements and lots of drum-playing:

We did this luau thing.  It was kind of cool.  It was kind of a taste of the show to come later that evening.  And speaking of taste, man, is their pork salty!!  Of course, my taste buds are still (!) oversensitive to salt and spice.  Four months after my last chemo.  It's crazy how long the effects of chemo last.
Another lasting side effect of chemo:  dry eyeballs.  I have to wear my glasses most of the time.  Contacts obviously irritate the eyeballs.

BTDubs, lais are so itchy!!
 Hawaiian dancing is very smooth and gentle, whether the pace is fast or slow:
The emcee guy for the luau was the cheesiest man I have ever seen.  I was literally like, "Are we at a Vegas lounge show?"  He had that cheesy voice and told cheesy jokes and just... I don't know.  As you know, I have a low tolerance to cheesiness:
There was a little bit of fire dancing at the luau and tons that night at the show (where we weren't allowed to take pictures):
I couldn't tell if the girl on the right had singed her hair off at some point.  I swear I could see shorter hair on her right side, dyed blonde.
I think these girls were Samoan. 

Oh, and...they asked for volunteers to dance the Tahitian style.  I was across from Ben, facing away from him, watching the people pick members of the audience, not knowing that Ben was pointing at me.  And I got picked.  Haha!  I had a blast but looked like such a nerd!  The video is too big for me to upload here.  I'll try to put it on Facebook.

The night show was really, really awesome.  Tons more dancing, singing, fire dancing...  Fantastic.  Such a must-see if you go to Oahu!

Pearl Harbor, Punchbowl, and Waikiki

Aiiight.  Sorry for the delay.  Busy, busy, busy.

So the morning after we flew into Oahu, we were like, let's go to the hotel pool!  The pool is really neat, but what is even neater is the koi pond near it. I have never, ever seen koi this huge before!  (And we stayed in China for four months!)  We're talking like 2-3 foot fish!  We could see them from the 11th floor!  They were huuuge!

 Ben got me the cutest swim coverups and hat:
My skin is pasty white.  But we have learned, have we not, that it's not worth getting tanned or burned.  I beat one kind of cancer.  I don't need to deal with skin cancer on top of it.  #totallypreventable.  That is the first time I've ever used a hashtag.  I don't really get them.  Do you have to be on instagram to use them?  I might have completely broken internet rules, using a hashtag when I'm not on instagram. Will someone please clue The Technophobe in on these things??

Um, so we got all sunscreened and Ben dove head-first into the freeeezing waters of the hotel pool, and then we realized that, duh, we had to get ready and drive over to Pearl Harbor.  We are the bigggest ditzes.

Pearl Harbor:

 I really love the tree-like cutouts on this memorial.
 The exposed bottom of one of the boat parts is exposed above water.  You can see it behind us in this selfie:
Speaking of selfies, I have never seen so many selfie sticks as I did in Hawaii.  Many of the Asian tourists had them.  It was a crackup.

And yes, my hair is growing in with a kind of ashy-blonde color mixed with the brown.  It's bizarre.  There's this little girl in my ward here who had leukemia, and the tips of her grown-in hair are that ashy blonde color.  Mine did come in kind of blonde on the pate and brown around the edges at the very first.  It's a trip.  Oooh, and it's also stick-straight.  I'm seriously, seriously hoping it continues in its newfound straightness.  I always had to straighten it or curl it before, because it was naturally...frizzy.  Oh, and it's also very, very soft and thin; where it was courser before.  Ben likes to rub my head.  (He calls it chinchilla hair.)  Everyone likes to rub my head, actually, when I come to think of it.  I don't mind.  It reminds me of when I was pregnant and everyone wanted to touch my belly.  They just want to feel it and join in the rejoicing of that whole process.  I kind of feel like my friends here are like that - rejoicing with me in the hair that's growing in.  I'm good with it.  I might have to start using a little product soon, though.  I'm starting to wake up with major bed-head. :)

Back to Pearl Harbor.  It was super-duper windy.  Locals said that the trade winds were happening when we were there that whole week.  It was windy, stormy, and rained on and off the whole week.  Being out on the harbor, though, the wind was absolutely whipping around us.  It seriously felt like maybe 30 mph winds.  I was like, "Am I back in Idaho??" You Idahoans know what I'm talking about.

I knew that my parents had gone to this memorial called Punchbowl a few times when I was younger and they took trips out to Hawaii.  I suggested to Ben that we go find it.  Thank goodness for the map app on our phones.  We had a GPS thingey in our rental car, and it was called NeverLost.  We came to call it AlwaysLost.  It was really vague.  It would be like, "Coming up, bear right."  Say what??  We need exit numbers! We need number of miles!  There are lots of freeways in and around Honolulu - you need reliable navigation.  We tried using it a few times and eventually gave up.  Ridiculous!

I'm really glad we went to Punchbowl.  They call it that because it's a big crater on a hill overlooking Honolulu.  In the crater is this memorial and cemetery.  The cemetery holds thousands of graves of the men who died in the Pacific region during WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  The memorial lists the men killed whose remains were never recovered.
 We were so in love with the trees there.  And below, you can see part of Honolulu and Diamondhead:
Since we were already in Honolulu, Ben and I decided to check out Waikiki Beach.  I went to Hawaii with my parents 20 years ago, and I remember walking along the beach at night and enjoying the warm water washing onto my feet and the twinkling lights of the hotels on the beach.

We had to park approximately a million miles away and walk through a park to get to the beach proper.  There are a lot of weirdos in that park, dude.  There were tons of homeless guys, as well as people who were like, "Look at me!  I juggle in the park!"  "Look at me!  I do weird balancing things with partners in the park!" 
It was very hippieish and reminded me of the parks near beaches in San Diego.  It was funny. 

These trees!  So cool!!!
 When the sun set, everyone just kind of paused what they were doing and enjoyed the sunset:
 Ben took this picture on his PHONE!
 I can't believe how good it turned out!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Ummm, so.... I've been keeping this under wraps, which has resulted me in not posting anything at all, because I feel weird not talking about this huge, amazing, awesome thing that happened to us:

Ben and I went to Hawaii.

Now hold up.  Lessss get to the neetty-greetty (Nacho Libre) first thing.  Ben has a client who went through brain cancer last year - and survived (!).  He and Ben would talk about me when they would meet to talk about this guy's house plans - Cancer Shop Talk, so to speak.  He offered for us to stay at his penthouse on the southwestern beach of Oahu for a week for freeeeeeeeee.  All we had to do was get there and pay for fun stuff and food, etc.

And we decided to go.

For those of you who are like, "Um, hiiiii, of course you did!  Why didn't you tell us??  Good for you!!  You deserve this after the year from hell that you've had!" - bless you.  The reason I was really hesitant in sharing it is that I didn't want it to appear that I was using money that people gave to me, to help with cancer costs, to go to Hawaii.  Does that make sense?  My dear friend set up a Go Fund Me account, and people contributed to it.  We used that account to pay for my cancer treatments last year, and we were so, so grateful to the people who contributed.  I still get a little teary-eyed about that.

I just don't want it to be misconstrued; that we accepted this money to pay for cancer, and because we didn't pay those bills, we had money sitting around that we used to go to Hawaii.  That's not the case at all.  We didn't have money to pay for medical bills then, nor do we now.  We're in very humble circumstances.  The penthouse was free, a generous offer from a good client.  And then we used part of our tax refund to pay for the flights, food, fun, etc.

I mean, I suppose we could have (should have?) used our tax refund to pay people back for the money they contributed to the Go Fund Me account?  But I felt that they money they gave was a gift, not a loan.  Am I wrong to think of it in that way?  Should we have looked up every person that donated money to us and payed them back?  We still couldn't have paid everyone back - our tax refund wasn't that large. 

I don't know.  I kind of feel that 99.9 percent of people who contributed to that account probably would have given their enthusiastic blessing if I had asked permission to go to Hawaii.  I know that I would have been in that camp, if roles had been reversed.  If I saw a friend, family member, or acquaintance going through the horrors of cancer and cancer treatment, and if I had the means to contribute money to her Go Fund Me account, and she had a chance to go to Hawaii, I wouldn't think twice about it.  Because my contribution had been a gift.  I didn't expect to be paid back.  I gave from the kindness of my heart.  And I would want her to experience some kind of happiness after all she had been through.

Am I wrong to think that our choice to go was okay??  I don't know.

Am I a serious buzz-kill for issuing this declaration before we proceed to talk about how paradisaical and fun Hawaii was for us?  Probably.  I just needed to put it out there that I'm not a selfish jerk or a user.  Fair?  Okay.  Moving on.

Soooo, when we got there, it took forever to get our bags, get to the penthouse, get some groceries for the week, etc., and then we had jetlag, so I dropped off to sleep at about 7 p.m.  Ben lasted a couple more hours and then conked out.  So we didn't do much.  But here's the place we stayed.  It was incredible.  I was a little bit blown away.  Here I am, in shock and awe, on the lanai, or balcony:

Here's the kitchen/dining area that leads to the lanai.  You can slide the lanai doors all the way open if you want:
 Ben took these at sunset while I was snoozing on the couch:

Such a beautiful place to stay.  So kind of that client to let us stay there.  The concierge (He called himself Handsome Jerry, or Handsome Gene, or something like that.  I guess there is another dude at the place with his same name, so he calls the other dude Ugly Jerry and himself Handsome Jerry) told us that Justin Bieber and a bunch of other really famous and/or powerful people have stayed at these penthouses.  Yowza.

Stay tuned for Pearl Harbor.  I'd like to say that I'll be posting about that tomorrow, never know.  Life is busy.  Reeeeally busy.  I'll have to tell you about that at some point, as well.  Many interesting and varied things have been going on at our maison.  I'll try to be better at updating.
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