30 Oct 2008, 9:18pm
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seriously ridiculous

what a great day! what a series of great days! mahalo… thank you pele.

a couple days ago i painted a little sign for one of the gardens to label some bean plants. then i was asked to paint some new signs to label the various recycling bins, and next thing i know me and another girl here are being asked to design and paint the floor for the mai’a (banana) cabana, a new accommodation on the property. we started this morning and we’re both having such a good time doing it. and this pleasure is what’s letting me stay here for free!? (pictures when it’s done, probably!)

this afternoon’s adventures took us up to the hamakua coast north of hilo. we stopped on the way at this place called baker tom’s, where we met tom himself, a crazy dude who makes delicious malasadas and who discounted my lilikoi malasada (delicious!) i think because i have pink hair. and/or ’cause he thought i was kama’aina (local/native). i guess i’m getting a tan! i have heard a lot of people say that when you come to the island, pele either accepts you or she spits you back out. i have rarely felt so welcomed and embraced; thank you thank you pele…

we went to this amazing freshwater swimming hole in a place called ninole. it’s hidden under a bridge along a quiet road and really the most wonderful unexpected place!

i didn’t jump off that ledge, no. my excuse? well, remember that picture from yesterday of me hanging by my arms from a tree branch? today, much to my frustrated surprise, my collarbone was displeased with me. still–pretty bad excuse. instead:

smaller ledge! and the two of us promised to jump WHEN we go back before i leave. i know i know we will (go back) and we will (jump!).

scrabbling up and over rocks. so much fun.

the rain chased us under the bridge for awhile:

along a road near the swimming hole was this seriously awesome tree (i love how that phrase means pretty much the same thing as “ridiculously awesome tree”–this is indicative of something, folks), a rainbow eucalyptus:

and then green tea and japanese food in hilo…

i spent the whole ride home thinking thank you thank you there is so much beauty… i am almost afraid that i will just stop feeling this way when i get home to portland. but i guess if that’s how it is, then, well, i know what to do. but i think that if i approach portland with the same freshness and openness with which i arrived here, i will be just fine–much, much more than fine. it will be harder there, because i think i know the way things are there, and things and people there think they know the way i am. it is hard to allow the things and people we love to be more than and better than and changed from what we know of them. i will try. and i will try to be more and better and allow myself the changes i need, whatever that may mean–the things i can’t even imagine yet…

love & aloha,
sweetness & light,
take care & give care,


29 Oct 2008, 8:01pm
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the universe keeps giving me these beautiful affectionate punches in the face, like: well you’re healing; heal this too!

today after i finished my work trade i lounged around the barn for awhile, reading, working on my mandala, feeling antsy… so i asked a new friend of mine here if he would be down for going to the beach. the first people we hitched a ride with gave us a big cardboard box full of bananas from their property that they didn’t want or need. just ’cause. hawaii’s gifts.

we went to a little rocky beach off the red road between mackenzie park and kehena. tide pools, cliffs, jungle, shells for the finding, all the usual treasures. only two other people are there… we offer them bananas… and one of them… i swear to god… could it be? no way. he doesn’t want a banana and i’ve already begun to walk away when the adrenaline hits–the adrenaline that has never failed in over four years to strike when i see him unexpectedly. no way. i swear it’s him–this person with whom i had an unhealthy, obsessive love affair when i was eighteen years old, who broke my heart and haunted my dreams and occasionally my waking life for years after it was over. it seems improbable, and yet–if we’re going to meet anywhere, it may as well be this tiny beach in puna, right? he’s kind of a wanderer and it doesn’t seem totally impossible.

i wade in the tide pools and chase nervous fish, i climb up the cliffs, i talk to my friend, i sit on my sarong and pick up pieces of dead white coral. i sneak double takes. he’s lying on the beach with a girl and i would hate to interrupt anything. but i would bet on it. this is crazy. i make this message, figuring well hey a little strange poetry art if nothing else:

we’re at the beach for at least an hour or two and nothing changes. finally the sun is starting to set and we want to be on our way before dark. as we leave, he’s walking across the beach. i look at him again and then start to walk past him. finally i turn to him and say, “excuse me, um, is your name _____?”

“uh, no, i’m _____,” he says.

“oh, sorry, it’s just you look so much like someone i used to know.” i walk up to him and stick out my hand. he takes it. “hi, i’m stacia. thanks for, uh, letting me… untangle my brain,” i say, illustrating my words with vague gestures above my head. i’m laughing. my friend is laughing. i walk the wrong way and totally miss the path back to the road. i laugh harder.

i think i am proud of myself for asking his name. for not letting him be the same ghostly presence in my life that my ex-lover was for so long. but who knows. the universe’s lessons unfold slowly. i am so glad to be able to open myself to these things. hawaii’s lessons are not all about hawaii, you know? last night i got a long-distance phone call from nepal. ohhh. so.

my arms can hold me up again.

life’s a trip.

28 Oct 2008, 9:31pm
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sweetness & light

the place i’m sleeping right now, ocean view, is pretty much the most beautiful place on the property during the day time. at night, though, the narrow path up the hill and the thick jungle behind it are, well, just creepy enough to make me pretty eager to hop into bed and get the covers wrapped securely around me (bogey monsters are totally defeated by cotton). last night i woke up in the dark of the night because something was scrabbling around on the roof (made of bamboo supports and a couple tarps). i lay awake for what seemed like forever listening to whatever it was. one of the cats? a mongoose? or a GIANT CENTIPEDE?? unlikely, my logical mind patiently explained… and eventually i fell back asleep and woke up shortly after sunrise in the most beautiful place again.

yesterday we got a ride into town from a guy who was listening to some kind of tape or radio program about the history and importance of the apple in early pioneer america. the narrator went on a tangent about sweetness, and how it used to be a big virtue–sweetness and light. how it’s only in more recent history that sweetness has become, well, somewhat saccharine.

hawaii is sweet, my friends. my life, the synthesis of my experiences, my increasing self-awareness and awareness of the communities around me: all sweet. fuckin’ sweet!

today i started a new mandala–in full color.

this is midnight, one of two cats around here:

26 Oct 2008, 7:05pm
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mind-changing and life-expanding

today i went to ecstatic dance at this retreat center near kehena. it happens every sunday morning and it’s kinda part rave, part hippie church. big ol’ wood-floored lodge overlooking the ocean, big sound system, lots of “punatics” (a very descriptive word i just learned today, haha–this corner of the big island is called puna) and a couple solid hours of dancing. talking is not allowed, but sound-making is. i danced so long and hard that the balls of my feet are slightly blistered. at one point there was a pause between songs due to technical difficulties, and everyone started clapping a rhythm, then altering the rhythm, etc etc, keeping it going. afterwards we got lunch and then went to kehena beach, which is apparently what pretty much everyone else does on sundays after ecstatic dance (drums! people! swimming!). kehena is, by the way, clothing-optional.

a week before i left portland i went to a sigur rós concert at an enormous concert hall (actually the second time i saw them there! both were excellent awesome shows!). when they performed “gobbledigook” they asked everyone to stand up and we all clapped along, this loud, strong beat and this beautiful melody and the lyrics i hear as “into the untamed earth” though i know they’re singing in icelandic (right? i would swear that’s what they’re singing, but google says the only song with english lyrics is “all alright”), kind of like i always hear “it’s you, it’s you” (etc) in “svefn-g-englar.” anyway the video for “gobbledigook” is amazing, all joyous naked young people running through woods in big packs and, you know, being joyful. you can watch it here. i remember being surrounded by this music and a whole concert hall full of people creating this huge powerful rhythm and thinking about the video and kinda dreaming that my trip in hawaii would feel like that video looks and that song sounds. i thought i was being ridiculous but… no. that’s pretty much what i feel like these days. into the untamed earth… into the new earth, which is also the old earth. into the untamed self, the new self which is the old self…

i know this all sounds cheesy but this place is so ripe for metaphor. the path down to kehena is steep and rocky, and you have to watch your feet to avoid slipping or stumbling. then suddenly you hit the sand and you look up and there’s people and music and the ocean. this summer was… steep and rocky. i withdrew into myself and put up all kinds of stupid reactive defenses. then i looked up and suddenly i am surrounded by (more crunchy granola hippie stuff–no apologies) all these healing influences. you know? this island itself is a fucking metaphor–so old and so new at the same time. i keep thinking about my life here this past week and a half and about the possibility for reinvention. but it’s not really reinvention when it’s so contingent on what came before. yes, there are a million possible lives. but this, too, is a kind of accumulation. (hey friends if the economy totally tanks maybe i should take my insurance settlement and buy some cheap land here in puna. you can come; we can live in bamboo huts and start a theatre school and intentional community. our lives will be beautiful and full of fruit and fruitful so long as we stay on pele’s good side. i dunno; maybe next week i will be so homesick for portland, cold rain and all, that i can barely stand it.)

i went swimming at kehena today. i don’t think i’d ever been swimming in ocean like that (ocean i was too scared to swim in last time i was there). more metaphor: first i practiced standing strong and sturdy against the crashing waves and the undertow, then i swam further out and let the waves carry me up and then down again. when do you do which…? in any case it was really exhilarating!

on friday night we had a bonfire to burn a bunch of cane grass. fire, guitars, s’mores even!

and then i stayed up ’til some completely ridiculous hour of the morning talking to someone about pretty much everything ever. and then in the morning i woke up at breakfast time per usual and was contentedly tired all day–still managed to spend half the afternoon dancing around the barn with the four-year-old girl who left today with her mom and sister (headed to another farm)–i miss her already! we also rescued this moth:

and she took this picture of me:

here, look at this:

starting tonight i’m sleeping here:

so named because:


(the mosquitoes don’t even bother me anymore. i think your body develops an immunity pretty fast. they still bite you but you just kind of stop reacting. damn, is that a metaphor too?? i dunno; i’m not sure i like that one.)

24 Oct 2008, 4:42pm
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the earth is always creating itself

did you know that the hawaiian rainforest has pretty much nothing dangerous in it? no poison ivy or poison oak or anything similar to worry about brushing up against… though cane grass will give you welts when you’re hacking and whacking at it for a couple hours (i speak not from experience but from observation). no snakes or poisonous insects or animals with big pointy teeth. the mosquitoes carry no communicable diseases–there was one very tiny outbreak of dengue fever several years ago, but it was quickly contained.

the only thing you really have to worry about is the centipedes, which can and will deliver a bite that feels like a wasp sting. ok, i live in fear of the centipedes. they put odb bugs (our name at reed for house centipedes, because they haunt the “old dorm block” on campus) to shame. i have only seen one, caught by another volunteer, and it was dead, but that sucker was like four inches long, folks. someone else said they saw one eat a lizard.

the other day i woke up to discover a millipede curled up between my thighs. it was tiny and harmless, but maybe you see why i’m a little worried about the centipedes.

the intersection of pohoiki–pronounced pohiki–and hinalo, down the street from hedonisia. left on pohoiki to go towards pahoa, right to the ocean!

i am learning the things around here that make me less a traveler and more a fixture–you know? today i’m on cleaning duty and i know what that entails and i know where to find everything i need and i know where to put everything away. things here are happening slowly enough that the lessons i learn have some time to absorb and sink in.

my feet are always dirty and will be until i get back to the mainland and socks and shoes. i even have a pair of yellow flip-flops i didn’t have when i came here–another gift bestowed on me by this beautiful corner of this beautiful island and the generous people who live here. sometimes i am salty, sweaty, a little smelly. my hair windblown or mussed. it’s great. everyone around here has such a great attitude. very laissez-faire but engaged–with the self and one’s companions and community. somehow that is not a contradiction.

whatever this is, it is a lesson half-learned, but i’ve still got time. that’s what i missed in all my galavanting around europe last fall.

anyway, this afternoon we went to mackenzie state park. on the way:

the red road

the ground at the park is thickly covered in pine needles, but i’m pretty sure there’s lava rock under there:

this is what the trees they come off of look like. they remind me of extra large charlie brown christmas trees:

apparently it’s possible to live/camp in the park pretty much indefinitely. tons of coconuts and a beautiful view of the ocean–pretty good deal!

two things i am really really not over yet:



we stood by these tide pools and watched the waves crashing for a long time.

the ever-present steam plume, again, where the lava hits the ocean, where the earth is continuously creating itself…

some strangers climbing coconut trees gave us one–we broke it apart on the lava rock by the ocean and drank its milk and ate its meat. i never knew i liked coconuts before i came here! the couple times i’d had coconut meat before, it seemed bland and tasteless and way not worth the effort required. here, it is sweet and delicious, and coconut milk is becoming one of my favorite things.

i am really falling in love with this imperfect beautiful place, mosquitoes and all.

(by the way: believe it or not, i’m not actually posting all the pictures i’m uploading to the web here on this blog. you can see the rest of them in this continuously-updated flickr set: hawaii!)

23 Oct 2008, 6:47pm
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it took me until sunday to notice the stars. we were standing on the lava looking at the glowing plume, and someone said “what a picture.” someone else said “yeah, the lava’s really something,” and the first person said, “no, i mean the whole thing, starting with the stars.” and we all looked up, and my god!

the view inside my tent this morning–with all my drying unmentionables draped over the top:

below: the view out the back of the barn (the common area where the kitchen and food storage and such is, plus books, dvds, couches and the like. also my bed/tent, for now) sometime last week, in the rain. on the left is the bathroom and shower area. the pink structure is the cat house. the structure behind that is bamboo hut, one of the sleeping areas. i’m hoping to move out of the barn and into one of the independent structures sometime next week…

this guy was hanging out behind the kitchen sink this morning:

the door to the shower (the other side of the sign says “occupied”):

and, um, here’s my feet this morning. just in case you thought i was exaggerating about the mosquito thing (agggh one of them just dove down my shirt as i typed that!). i don’t have chicken pox; i have tasty tasty flesh (apparently):

this afternoon we went to kapoho tide pools to bask on lava rock and wade and swim a bit.

see the rainbow??:


also, i voted today. my absentee ballot made it here all right, but the “secrecy envelope” i was supposed to put it into before putting it into the mailing envelope that was also included was, uh, sealed shut by the humidity here. i actually tried to steam it open, and then i tried to freeze it open (hey it was worth a shot), before somewhat-messily ripping it open and taping it back up again. i wrote a note and signed across the tape with sharpie, so hopefully it’ll be all right. i think it’s pretty funny, really.

and no, i’m not telling you for whom i decided to vote.

22 Oct 2008, 5:45pm
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did you know that one of the volcanoes that make up this island–mauna kea–is actually the tallest mountain in the world, measured from its base (uhhh, 19,000 feet below sea level) to its summit? it’s over 1,000 meters taller than everest!

kilauea is the active volcano–the most active volcano on the planet!–where the goddess pele lives. today (and several days in the past week) i walked on earth that is younger than i am.

today i met up with a friend of mine from high school. i hadn’t seen her since our graduation five and a half years ago (!), but when she found out i was on the big island, she very generously offered to give me any rides i might need to the grocery store or around the island… it turns out she lives only a couple of miles away, between here and pahoa! so today she took me to the natural foods store in town and i bought a ridiculous amount of groceries. we got lunch down by the lava flow and walked up onto the open expanse of windy lava… i’d have pictures to share, but my camera was buried under my groceries in my bag, and i figured oh well, there will always be another time–my time here seems endless! i have only been here a week!

this is a beautiful place to be, undeniably. but it’s so hard to get around here without a car. i think if i were to come here for a longer time, i would try to get a moped or something. you may recall i thought about bringing my bike, but in retrospect i am glad i didn’t. the roads here are narrow and dip up and down like you wouldn’t believe (wheeee rollercoaster!). the narrowness wouldn’t bother me so much except for the dips, which mean you often don’t see what’s ahead of you until you’re right on top of it. i would rather not be the what’s ahead, especially since there’s some crazy drivers and very little enforcement of drunk driving laws and the like.

a whole bunch of the people staying here at hedonisia have been here for a relatively long time–since the spring, etc–long enough to consider themselves residents of hawaii. that’s why i mention the “longer time,” i guess. i can see where they’re coming from. life here is slow and easy and beautiful, and my friend from high school tells me that the mosquitoes will eventually leave you alone when you’re no longer fresh meat. but i miss my bike and theatre and portland’s streets, and being carfree is important to me. when i leave here i will miss the jungle and the okinawa spinach in the garden. oh the luxury of having things to miss! it feels often like i am unusual in knowing, in my early 20s, where i want to grow old and maybe raise kids and all that. so my wandering feels different than the wandering of the wanderers i find around myself. i don’t know; i might surprise myself yet, of course.

anyway my friend and i got along really well this afternoon, though we weren’t close in high school. she asked me if there was anything i really wanted to do on anywhere on the island while i’m here, and i mentioned (feeling kinda silly) that i sorta wanted to go to this restaurant that my family and i used to eat at when we came to the island (my brother went to boarding school here for two years, and my family used to visit the kona side of the island about once a year–our last trip as a family was around new year 2004), called bamboo, in hawi, way up at the northernmost tip of the island. and she said, yeah, sure! there’s some great camping up near there! we could make a weekend of it!