7/26/09

Insomnia

I am becoming quite the insomniac lately. I've always had a problem of not wanting to go to bed early and wanting to sleep all day, but it's getting worse.

As I write this, it's 2:32 in the morning. Jeff and the girls have all been asleep for hours, but I can't bring myself to go to bed. I know if I force myself to go, I won't be able to shut my mind off.

This has been happening more and more often. One night this week, I was up until 4:30 a.m.

I've heard sleep study experts say that, even if you don't think it adversely affects you, your reflexes and brain function slows down if you get fewer than 8 hours of sleep a night. I don't know if I believe that, but I know that for the last year or so, I actually feel better if I only get 5 or 6 hours of sleep. When I sleep for more than about 7 hours, I wake up sluggish and dazed.

I just re-read what I wrote above and I've made a discovery:

The cure for insomnia is reading this blog...it's putting me right to sleep!

Good night!

7/11/09

Aloha Nui Loa from Honolulu

I had the unfortunate task of "having" to come to Hawai'i to teach a class. I know, I know, it's tough duty. No really, don't feel sorry for me. I just want to ramble about it a little...

I got in last night after the 8-hour flight from Dallas, tired and jet-lagged. Rented my car and headed to Waikiki to the hotel. Without traffic that would be about a 15 minute drive. Unfortunately, it was rush hour so it was more like a 45 minute drive. I skipped the freeway for the slower Nimitz Highway route, which gave me lots of gawking time to see what had changed in the 10 years and 1 month since I left.

First thing I noticed was the plethora of high rises that have gone up since we left. It's almost sad, you can hardly see the Ko'Olau's (mountains) from Waikiki anymore. I mean the buildings are beautiful, but the mountains were prettier. One bright spot was the double rainbow shining over the mountains just for me. Almost as if it was welcoming me home.

And I do feel like I'm home. Of course, home when I lived here was definitely not an oceanfront suite in the Ali'i Tower of the Hilton. It was more like a tiny house on a tiny plot of land in the 'burbs, but it was still here on this same rock.

Traveling as much as I do has certainly paid off in spades for this trip. I'm a diamond member of Hilton, so they upgraded my room. I'm in the Ali'i Tower, which is the "VIP" tower here, on the 13th floor right on the beach. The Ali'i Tower has it's own pool and a private lounge with breakfast, snacks and drinks and all kinds of other treats not available to the other 5 or so high-rise towers full of guests (I think there are something like 3500 rooms here).

Hopefully I'll get a card reader today when I go out so I can post some of the photos of and from my room. It is almost a waste for just one person, but I'm not complaining!

I walked over to the Hale Koa, which is the next resort down the beach. It's a very nice two-tower hotel and resort exclusively for military members and their families. They have a fantastic bar there, called the Barefoot Bar, which is right on the beach and has the cheapest drink prices in Waikiki.

When Jeff and I first moved here, the Hale Koa only had one tower and it was always full (damned retirees...like us...booked up all the rooms a year in advance and active duty folks couldn't get a room). So we stayed down the road at the Alana and walked to the Barefoot Bar almost every night for cocktails before (or after...or, well, sometimes for) dinner.

So anyway, I walked over there to watch the sunset and have my own little welcome party. I sat at the bar and was waited on by the best mai-tai maker in the universe, Virgil.

Virgil was the bartender there when we moved to Hawai'i in 1995. He makes a killer mai-tai and as far as I know has been at the Hale Koa since it was built. Hell, he may have been there longer than that for all I know. The weird thing is that he looks exactly like he did 14 years ago when we moved here. I think he may have sold his soul to the devil or something.

Be that as it may, he still whips up the best of the best in liquid refreshment and I sat at the bar sipping mine throughout the sunset and the Friday night fireworks. It was heavenly.

I spoke to a very nice young soldier stationed in Tokyo. He said he comes to Honolulu a few times a year for training and that he never has trouble getting a room at the Hale Koa. Apparently the Hale Koa is really hurting in this economy and can't keep its rooms full like it used to. That's sad to hear, but I can certainly see why military families and retirees can't afford to take vacations in Hawaii.

Today I've been lazing around the room, trying to get my internal clock reset. I went down to breakfast (after waking up at 4 am...which was 9 to me) and watched the sunrise over Diamond Head.

In a bit I'm leaving for Waianae to visit my friend Mary. Mary's husband Willie is a controller I worked with at Honolulu and they lived in the same neighborhood we did. They've now built a new house on a hill overlooking the ocean. All of her kids, who were about 11, 14 and 16 when we were here, are grown up and she's got a grandchild now.

I was wondering if coming here would dispel my illusions of this being where my heart wanted me to live. You know how sometimes you go to a place that you loved once and it's not the same? Well, Honolulu is not the same, that's for sure. But the island and the ocean and the mountains are. And it's still where my heart wants to be.

My heart is home.