Friday, May 21, 2010


Today is Friday. Fridays are overrated. I am frying in my living room like a smelly lobster in a pot, except lobsters don't have ears. Lucky lobsters.

My double ear infection has kept me in the house all week. Never jump into dirty rat-pee waterfalls after an ear irrigation, then try to learn boogie-boarding in an angry ocean right after. Nature and my own stupidity have forced me to wear cotton balls in both ears for days. Like a stuffed lobster.

The thing about Fridays is this: anything worth doing should be done as soon as you feel like it. That's how I feel. That's why I don't wait for Fridays. The problem: by the time Friday rolls around everything worth doing is already done. Yet every week I look forward to Friday. And every week I'm disappointed. Last Friday I deep-cleaned my house -- buttery microwave, moldy bathtub, offensive fridge. I also did laundry, which I hate even worse than discovering three-month old leftovers. Friday makes me a masochist.

Not that it's Friday's fault I get excited. Friday didn't ask to be a novelty, to be put on a pedestal like that. It just happened to be at the tail end of school and work weeks, which for some reason made it special, which for some reason makes us anticipate it for six days a week then wonder why we did that when it comes around again.

I liked Tuesday, when I got a free meatball sandwich for being at work at the right time, or Wednesday, when I made friends with a Korean girl in my class and afterwards we talked about our goals over mango smoothies. Monday was a backyard bonfire and Reese's cup s'mores, then staying up with sympathetic friends as I cried over ear pain. Sunday was watching God work through another person, giving her strength and words to say what we all needed to hear. Thursday was a looong, delicious nap after curling up with my new favorite book. (Baby No-Eyes, Patricia Grace. Brilliant.) Saturday was the fateful hike that ended in an ear infection, but that was worth it because I met fantastic new friends. Also I was in the jungle: my favorite! Now here I am at Friday again, sweaty and full of cotton.

Here's to anticipating the other days.
And to not being a stuffed lobster next week.

Friday, May 14, 2010


After being half-deaf for some time now, I made an appointment at the campus health center yesterday as an alternative to learning ASL. It was a relatively painless process -- kind of an awesome sensation, really -- a syringe that sprays water into my ear and lets nasty brown chunks of wax out into a kidney-shaped tray waiting below. The experience, however, brought me back to a day a little over a year ago that involved a dear friend. It is with her permission that I share this story. Actually... she has no idea.

Rachel -- then Sister Richards -- was my LDS mission companion. It's a rare privilege to get to serve in the same mission as your best friend. Even rarer and more privilege-y is when she gets to be your companion. We lived together in a small, quaint Lithuanian town called Siauliai when one morning Rachel woke up without her hearing. A regular part of a missionary day is talking to people, and my friend was getting frustrated as she found herself approaching strangers, not being able to hear them, then having them walk away in confusion when she couldn't communicate with them. Finally we decided it was time to take medical action.

Lithuanian hospitals are very... Soviet. What many have found is that if you don't need antibiotics when you go in, you will most certainly need them when you come out. Instruments are rusty. Doctors don't have fancy light-up tools to look in your mouth but rather duct-taped flashlights to hats on their heads. Dark, moldy, paint-chipped walls surround rooms with squeaky beds and dirty windows. People don't smile, and who can blame them? It was thus with much trepidation that we -- and especially Rachel -- stepped into the Siauliai hospital waiting room.

A dirty old poster hung on the wall and dust covered the painted floor when we walked in. Rachel got more fidgety as we sat and waited our turn to learn our fate and destination. "3rd floor, Wing C," said the pink-haired woman behind the counter when we told her our problem. To get to 3rd floor, Wing C one must walk down a long, very dark underground hallway. It is painted green. There are metal doors leading to other wings as you make your way through the "cave," as we called it, labeled "radiology," "dermatology," and "podiatry." I swear I saw an especially large grey door labeled "morgue."

When we made our way to the "eye, nose and ears" department on 3rd floor, Wing C, Rachel was pale. Her eyes gave away the fear that she would walk away from Siauliai hospital as a female version of Van Gogh (an irrational fear: Rachel's a terrible artist). We sat outside the door, waiting for our turn to enter the mysterious "eye, nose and ears" office. Finally we were let out of the green, dirty flourescent-lit hallway into a bright, fresh, well-lit office. Two cheerful women in clean white coats greeted us, looked into Rachel's ears with an instrument my family doctor in America would use, and chatted with us as they worked. Then one of them used a shiny, legitimate-looking instrument to remove a big ball of wax from Rachel's ear. No one got deadly infections. No one lost any limbs. Nothing in the room was rusty or even smelled weird. The sun gleamed through the big windows. It was incredibly anticlimactic... just like this blog entry. The end.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I haven't been running in several days, so on Tuesday I pull on my shorts, slip on my brown running shoes (they used to be green) and a t-shirt, and step out into the hottest, muggiest day little Laie's seen in weeks.

Down the road, past the empty rugby field and the Laotian farms, there's a muddy trail that snakes up into the jungle. Other people can have their beach on sunny days. I like the ocean too, but up here... this is the paradise I will remember long after I've left Hawaii.

Jumpy creatures -- probably frogs -- get startled as I run by and create brown clouds in the giant puddles keeping them cool. I cross a few barbed wire fences and keep running: up, up, right, left, two steps breathe in, one step breathe out.

Eventually the trail goes over a dry stream bed that winds deeper into the jungle. It's too enticing to pass up. A run is not a run unless I've veered off the trail somewhere, attempted to catch some unsuspecting creature, or at least climbed a tree (banyans are my favorite). The rocks here are slippery, so I hoist myself out of the stream bed and wander into the jungle. Tall weeds and fallen branches immediately attack me, and my legs begin to look like that time at 13 when I realized I was allergic to penicillin. But I keep going. The jungle is peaceful but full of life, and it beckons me deeper and deeper. The trail, the jumpy mud puddles, and Laie feel like worlds away, and now comes my favorite part. I climb atop a boulder and listen.

I hardly notice the beads of sweat running down my shoulders and back or the mosquitoes savoring my wet, smelly ankles. I just stand there on my mossy boulder, inhaling the delicious smell of green and listening to the surrounding song of the jungle. An angry finch sits on a nearby branch and threatens me in the only way he knows how: his tiny orange beak squawks and bounces up and down while his throat and small body vibrate rapidly. Other birds, ignoring me, sing to no one as they fly overhead. There is no sky here; only the soft leaves of the jungle pine can be seen above me, getting teased by the gentle wind. I listen in wonder. The music of the jungle is a music no symphony could do justice. It's the most beautiful, quiet cacophony I know of. It reminds me that, even way up here, I'm not alone.

The jungle screams at me, sings to me in this manner until I let gravity carry me back down the trail and on to homework, neighbors and facebook pages. In the meantime I listen from my boulder... and rather enjoy the company.