Vacation!!!

WARNING: NOT A POLITICAL POST!!!

For two glorious weeks I spent my days on the Island of Oahu visiting my Dad. I woke up with the windows open, fresh air filled my room, and I slept until 7am most days. My Dad even had coffee made before my feet hit the floor. I ate delicious food, I went on luxurious walks, and I developed a deep respect for the Hawaiian lifestyle. Who wouldn’t? Everyone is incredibly pleasant in Hawaii, and I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that they didn’t wake up to a -24 temperature like I did this morning.

I even got some color… 

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     Taking a vacation is a wonderful break from the day to day mundane work cycle, even if sometimes it comes with a few hiccups. Just a few…

Example #1:

     On Monday morning I slapped myself in the face. Why? Well, let me give you the breakdown. I have a difficult time adjusting to our normal meaningless time change, I hate it, even when people tell me that I’m gaining an hour of sleep, I don’t feel like it. Whether I’m leaping forward or falling backwards, I usually do a fine job of emulating the town drunk for the first few hours of the day until I adjust. My system appreciates sleep, nay, my system adores sleep. I’m like a toddler who needs structure; my brain needs to know exactly when it’s supposed to be running at 100%. I can’t stand hearing from night owls and early risers, because I am neither, and I firmly believe that at some point their sheer disregard for my most beloved friend, Sleep, will catch up to them, and they will become the zombie apocalypse we’ve all been dreading. So if the normal time change has that kind of power over me, imagine a 4 hour time change…

     Jet lag, or Desynchronosis for all of you wordy people, is basically what you have when your circadian rhythms are thrown off balance by long distance travel between time zones. Or, as I like to describe it, it’s that special place where you lay in bed at 1:30am and wonder, “Has my brain turned to pudding?” only to immediately thereafter think, “Mmmm…pudding. Where can I find pudding?” This is also the same place where you are suddenly shocked awake by the idea that you might not be fully dressed because you can’t remember getting dressed, but the truth is that you are fully dressed, and you’re also in the shower. Did George Washington deliver fresh pineapples and Caribbean coffee in a basket he weaved underwater? I don’t know, because I was suffering from jet lag. Yes, that’s how off my brain was.  Basically, if the coffee isn’t flowin’, the brain isn’t goin’.

     Right now you’re thinking, “But why did you slap yourself?” Purely by accident. By Sunday night I had only been gifted with roughly 4.5 hours of sleep since Saturday morning. Marybeth doesn’t run well on 4.5 hours of sleep. Marybeth with 10 hours of sleep is like an Apple iMac with Intel Core i5 and 3.5 Ghz processor speed. Marybeth on 4.5 hours of sleep is like the old IBM Model 5150; sometimes you just need to kick me repetitively to get me going, and even then there aren’t any promises. I like to stay somewhere in between. So when I finally crashed on Sunday night, which due to jet lag was later than planned, I crashed. I crashed so hard that I missed the moment when my arm went from tingling sensation to full out paralysis after I slept on it in a way that cut off circulation. I lost all feeling from the elbow down. When I woke up to get ready for work I was fully inebriated on 100 proof sleep deprivation, and my mind was about as clear as a cloud. I started violently shaking my arm in an attempt to get the feeling back, only to throw my balance off and nearly tumble to the ground. Just kidding, there was no “nearly” about it. Once I was back on my feet and able to stay there without swaying, I lifted my arm up higher thinking that would help the blood flow, and in the process of shaking my arm I slapped myself in the face.

    I’ve had brighter moments.

    Not only did I slap myself, I then decided that the best way to gain back the feeling in my arm was to go about my normal routine. So I tried to pick up my phone, and then started laughing hysterically when I couldn’t even do that. I then picked up my phone with my good hand and placed it in the numb hand. It tumbled to the ground, putting the rave reviews of my phone case to the test. My extensive testing in the early morning hours of Monday prove that the Otterbox is indeed a remarkably fine piece of phone protection, because shockingly, this would not be the first drop of the day for my phone.

      In conclusion, Marybeth needs adequate sleep, because while the above was bad, it gets even worse. Every night since returning I’ve been lying in bed for hours before being able to fall asleep, and do you know what happens when someone like me lays in bed with the company of their own thoughts for that long? Suddenly I’m on Google and WebMD, and the stomach ache I’ve had since returning is either traveler’s stomach, or Trichinosis, a worm that has the ability to infest my brain. There’s no cure, there’s no fix, I just have to wait 5-8 days to see if the little devils hatch and mate in my intestines and make their way to my bloodstream. Then the YouTube video of surgeons extracting the worm infestation from my cerebral cortex will go viral, and the writers of House will regret not writing a story like mine. I envy the Koala, it gets a solid 22 hours of sleep every day, and it doesn’t have access to Google, it doesn’t have my fears, it doesn’t know my struggle, the adorable little creature just eats leaves and will never know the horrors of Trichinosis.

Example #2:

     Before going on my glorious vacation, I was awfully proud of my assumed abilities. Last summer I had gotten myself in shape, I was active, and I felt a little like Lance Armstrong. So I told my Dad, with confidence, that I would love to go hiking in Hawaii and get some photographs. Unfortunately, I forgot that it’s been winter in Wisconsin for numerous months, and I had been trapped in my house like a caged animal, or outside in freezing temps. It had been years since I had experienced a good summer. I thought Zumba was keeping me in shape. I thought wrong. The hikes were beautiful, and totally worth the near death I felt, but let me tell you, Zumba does not help with the change in temperature, nor does it help a 27 year-old jazzercise her way to keeping up with her extremely active father.

We had many adventures, but I’ll talk about one that might resonate with anyone that has been to Hawaii. Diamond Head, featured below:

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      On our drive to Diamond Head, my Dad spoke to the ease of the ascent. He said that the elderly who can barely move make their way up Diamond Head, I can’t tell you how many times I replayed those words in my head… Little did he know that for future house guests he will from here on out be using the term “Even Marybeth made her way up Diamond Head.” He told me about when my Grandparents visited, and how my Grandpa (who still runs in 5K races) had an incredibly easy time getting to the top, while my Grandma struggled. He said that she was so proud of herself when she made it that she purchased a t-shirt to celebrate her success. We laughed in unison while I tightened my laces, sipped my water, and prepared for a gentle stroll up a small hill. I thought about how adorable my Grandma is, and how I probably won’t even break a sweat… I was completely oblivious to that fact that within the next two hours I would be devouring my pride like a psycho turned cannibal, that I would have a nervous breakdown that resembled a Saw movie and compare myself to Chilean miners, and that I would crawl to the t-shirt shop at the bottom of the hill, me, myself, containing the collective insanity of the entire Donner party, and hand the man a twenty after looking like I had climbed Kilimanjaro.

I fully intend on inserting beautiful photos throughout this post, because I can…They might not even be from the same hike, but I’m going to post them. Because I want to.

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Like that one…It’s not even from Diamond Head, but I put it there anyway.

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That one isn’t from Diamond Head either… Soak up the beauty, Buttercup.  

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Okay, yes, that one was taken from the top of Diamond Head…

     We start walking up towards Diamond Head, and things are going great. We are holding a full conversation and my breath is still stable. Then it begins. 15 minutes later I look like I had been showered on, while everyone else is just traipsing up the hill like it’s a gentle stroll through a park. At this particular point I’m still walking, but the looming struggle has gotten into my head, and I have the sentence structure of a newly awakened coma patient, “this….beau…ti…ful.” Japanese and Chinese tourists – who look like they’ve had their sweat glands removed after training with Jackie Joyner-Kersee – walk up Diamond Head with their selfie sticks, and I, in the background, look like I’ve been mauled to death by the Sahara Desert. “White girl who was hit by train” is no doubt a label in countless Asian tourist scrapbooks and slideshows. Then suddenly as I’m puffing on my inhaler like it’s an oxygen mask that was dropped over my head in an aircraft plunging towards the earth in a ball of flames, a woman roughly 30 years my senior walks past…

      “Are you alright, Dear?” she asks with a genuinely concerned disposition.

      “Yes, I’m from a Northern state on the mainland, so this is just hitting me pretty rough…” I spit out my excuse.

      “Me too! Where are you from?” she says.

       I want to die.

       I convince myself that this active senior is clearly a former Olympic medalist, and I also tell myself that I can do this, and that I just need to push myself. Then the stairs came out of nowhere. Nowhere, I tell you. They appeared in front of me like the Grim Reaper, draped in death. I attacked them with my legs, and somewhere in the middle I must have convinced myself that my arms deserved a workout as well, because I started stabilizing myself with whatever body parts I had available.

      “Dad, where’s the next rest stop?”

      “After this tunnel.”

      Why? Why not before? I started to enter the tunnel and immediately panicked as my lungs tightened, and my brain started to function at 150%. I had 7 different outcomes fly through my brain at once, and only one ended with seeing daylight, the next best outcome ended with a movie in my memory that involved a dramatic film score and a bestselling novel. One outcome left me alive; the other six left me in the same predicament as the Chilean miners, but with a not so happy ending. “If I was alive, I’d buy both the soundtrack and the movie,” I think to myself. The Baby Jessica story comes to mind, and there I am, standing in the entrance of a tunnel and wondering how long it would take them to get that kind of equipment up here. I basically had my own obituary written, and while it sounded adventurous, I wasn’t sure if “they were unable to recovery the body from under the debris” was really the right wording for the sake of my family’s comfort.

      “I can’t do this…” I utter.

      “Do you have a cellphone with a flashlight?” some brave soul said to me on his way out of the tunnel. “That usually helps with the claustrophobia…”

      “Thank you, but I need air.” I’m like Oliver Twist standing before Mother Nature, “more please.” I walk back to the stairs and stand in the middle of the narrow walkway, fully intent on turning around and falling down said stairs, being knocked unconscious, and then being revived in an air-conditioned ambulance by a Polynesian EMT. Those ascending and descending take turns going past my frail, Sybil like state. I’m clogging traffic, I’m that person… Out of embarrassment, I fight my nausea and enter the tunnel. It’s dark, it’s hot, it’s dusty, and thankfully I make it out alive to the rest stop. My Dad comforts me, saying that it’s alright, that we can take our time. Meanwhile, he looks like he’s been spritzed with a little fresh spring water, while I look like I survived a tsunami and then just randomly decided to climb Diamond Head after exiting a pile of debris and water. The view from the top of Diamond Head is truly breathtaking; unfortunately, the trip up was rather breathtaking for me as well. On that note, now that I am not climbing it, TOTALLY worth the climb, friends. It’s one of the prettiest views in the world.

      We made it down, and yes, I purchased myself a t-shirt, and next time I see my Grandma we will wear them together – proudly – while we ignore all jokes from our fit family members.

Example #3:

      I was set to leave on Saturday night, and as I began packing my things and preparing for the journey home that week, my Dad said that we should spend the last couple of days doing my favorite things. Well, the North Shore happened to be my favorite place on Oahu. On Friday the 13th, (that should have been a sign) I stood on a secluded beach while my Dad ran back to the car for water. I stared into the ocean, mesmerized by its beauty. I watched the waves as they swelled and crashed, as the sheer power of the ocean filled my ears. My bare feet were inches away from where the water ended its visit on the beach, and then suddenly it reached my feet and the sand beneath them melted away. It was beautiful and perfect. Dad was back, and we were both just looking out at what God had created.

     “Is that guy naked?”

      Yep. That happened. My Dad’s question was like an iceberg to my Titanic. It was a valid question though, and upon further investigation, the man was indeed naked. Thankfully, he laid down and mooned the sun, secretly I hoped that he would pay for interrupting my moment by having to apply copious amounts of aloe to the whiter portions of his body later that evening. My Dad and I brushed this random moment aside like it was just some guy taking advantage of a quiet beach. Yep. That’s all. That’s all it was.

     Except it wasn’t.

     You know how a dog senses when a storm is coming? They are able to prepare themselves, run for cover, and bark mindlessly in your direction? The first thing that I plan to ask God is why humans were not gifted with this same endowment. Imagine how much we could avoid?

      My Dad and I sat on the beach, and we pushed the thought of the nude gentleman from our thoughts, moments later a kind fellow walked up and handed me shells. We had a short exchange, and he ended by saying, “You’re in paradise, you should be enjoying the water!” My Dad and I both looked at each other, and at our casual attire that was not suitable for swimming, and told the man that we’d probably go in another time. This chap then went to his car to fetch his snorkeling gear while Dad and I got pulled into our own conversation. Roughly 10 minutes went by before our new snorkeling friend reappeared with his gear, as he passed us he once again reiterated, “You’re in paradise! Don’t think about it, just get in the water!” Once again, my Dad and I brushed it off, chuckled in unison and decided the guy was a little odd for think that we would go swimming in the clothes we were wearing.

      Except that’s not what the guy had in mind.

      Moments later I was faced with a sight that would change me forever. I look towards my Dad, and about 20 feet behind him our snorkeling friend was wearing his snorkeling gear. Just his snorkeling gear. My Dad begins to swat at a bee, oblivious to the sight behind him, and I’m speechless, utterly without words. I felt like the little alien running my brain, we’ll call him Bob, was taking the elevator to all levels only to find that everything had been abandoned, and the place had been torched. “Words, I just need words!!!” he screamed through the halls of my frontal lobe as the alphabet letters ran around aimlessly on fire, and the floor started to give way. Finally Bob managed to track down a few letters to put together and all I can say is, “Oh my goodness…Oh. My. Goodness… No…” My Dad of course gave this confusing look as if to say, “Seriously? It’s just a bee…” I finally tell him to look behind and we both sit in a mixture of shock and laughter as our snorkeling friend takes nothing but his snorkeling gear and reflective posterior to the ocean.

      Obviously we decided to leave, but on the way out we saw a woman and her young child headed in the direct of the nudists. We stood and watched as the woman quickly turned her child around and walked with haste in the other direction.

      So what can we learn from this? Nudist beaches should always have proper signage.

      In conclusion – I had a blast, and I had a wonderful time with my Dad that we will both remember forever. I was able to see the entire island, as well as visit Pearl Harbor, eat Mochi ice-cream, and enjoy the foods of Oahu. I was able to visit his wonderful and beautiful church, and to meet so many of his lovely friends. It was truly a wonderful visit, one that I’m sure I will talk about more in future blog posts. My family back home took great care of my dog and house as well, they even did some much appreciated rearranging in my house. In closing, I feel incredibly blessed by all of those around me.  Except the nudists, definitely not the nudists.

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