Tuesday, October 12, 2010

May I Have the Envelope Please: Part II

Here is the exciting conclusion of the "Top Ten Things I Love about Living in Hawaii" list:

5) Mellow traffic.  Want to make a left hand turn in Hawaii (away from the craziness of Waikiki)?  Just put on your turn signal, and traffic will stop and let you out.  In fact, the other day I was trying to turn left out of our neighborhood and several cars passed without letting us out.  My seven year old, in her best exasperated voice, declared these drives to be "TOURISTS!"  And the only socially acceptable use of the car's horn in Hawaii is to get a friend's attention as you drive past so you can wave to him or her.  If the person in front of you at the red light doesn't go when the light turns green ... just wait.  You'll catch it next time.

4) Palm trees.  I love palm trees.  I don't know why ... but I do.

3) Fish ... it's what's for dinner.  The previous two states I lived in, Colorado and Utah, were not the best place to partake of seafood.  Oh sure, there was good trout in Colorado, but that was about the size of it.  No Mahi Mahi.  No Butterfish.  No Moonfish.  No Snapper.  No Moi!  How can you live with no Moi!!!???

2) My job.  Where better for a professor of international relations than the most international school in the US?

1) The beach.  I know, the beach was also number 10.  But the beach is really the Alpha and Omega of Hawaii. The air blowing in through my window right now smells of salt.  I spent the summer swimming, snorkeling, spearfishing, and lounging in the sand.  Now is surf season.  My kids boogie board and "wave jump" on a regular basis.  One day I spent about a half an hour floating on my back in the ocean on a calm day.  I came home, took a shower, and went to a routine doctor's appointment.  The doctor took my blood pressure, and when he looked at the results he gave me a high five.  Gotta love the beach.

Next time: top things I miss about the mainland.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

May I Have the Envelope Please: Part I

Last month while I was visiting the mainland, I was asked repeatedly "So how is living in Hawaii?"  Invariably, I would smile my best my-life-is-so-awesome smile and say, "It is exactly how you would imagine living in Hawaii to be."  However, I am now ready to be a little more specific.  I have come up with a list of the top ten things I love about Hawaii.  Here is part one:

10) The beach.  In June I flew from Hawaii to Fiji.  In doing so, I spent about 7 hours at 30,000 feet.  That means that when I looked out the window of the plane, I was a little over five and a half miles above the waves of the pacific.  It had been almost a year since I had spent seven hours five miles from the ocean.  It is comforting to know that a float in turquoise water is never more than a few minutes away.

9) It is always Christmas in Hawaii.  I didn't realize this at first.  In fact, on our first Christmas I felt a bit like I had missed Christmas completely.  There was no snow.  There was no hot chocolate.  There was no snow.  There were no awful wool knitted Christmas sweaters.  THERE WAS NO SNOW!!!  However, I eventually realized that I didn't mind the warm weather.  Palm trees look awesome coated in Christmas lights.  Christmas dinner tastes better when you cook it on the grill ... while wearing a t-shirt and shorts ... and no shoes (I hate shoes, but more on that later).  It took a while, but eventually I realized that the reason why it didn't feel like Christmas was because it is always Christmas in Hawaii.  After all, what makes Christmas special isn't snow men and sleigh rides.  What I have always loved about Christmas is that people are always nicer to each other at Christmas time.  In Hawaii, it doesn't have to be Christmas to show aloha.

8) Shoes are optional.  I hate shoes.  In classes during graduate school, I used to ditch my shoes in my office and go to class barefoot (class was only up one flight of stairs from my office).  One of my professors always called me "Tom Sawyer."  Here, those of us who think it is a travesty to encase our feet in small bags of leather, nylon, or canvas (in descending order of heinousness), are not discriminated against.  I once went to the grocery store and realized as I got out of the car that I had forgotten to bring my slipper (flip flops).  In Hawaii it is no shirt, no shoes, no problems.  The only problem was that the floor was so cold my toes were frozen by the time I was done.

7) Hawaii is an amazing mix of cultures.  Hawaii is half Polynesia, half US mainland, and half Asia.  If that sounds like one too many halves, all I can say is that life is extra full here.

6) The people who live here love living here.  Many Hawaiian families struggle to make a living.  Hawaii is expensive (we used to be steak people ... now we are mostly pork shoulder people).  Let's say you own a home in Hawaii.  You could sell that home and take the money to buy a much, much, much bigger home in Idaho, or Tennessee, or (gasp) Ohio.  In fact, you would probably still have quite a bit of money left over to do with as you please.  However, instead of leaving Hawaii, so many people work long hours and endure the high cost of living here.  Why?  There is a connection between the people and the land here.  I have never lived anywhere with quite the same connection between people and land.

Stay tuned for the top 5.