Open Thread: Ana Is Back!

I'm back in my own bed tonight, ya'll! Yay! Did you miss me? (It was almost like I never left, I hope!)

Trip report while I'm still conscious enough to type: Hawaii was lovely, and I feel really privileged and lucky to have been able to go. The beach was gorgeous; the sand was yellow, the sea was a clear deep blue, and the air smelled warm and fresh and clean. (Except when people were smoking. Which is... a thing now? I've never seen so many smokers in one place. It was like being in an 80's film noir, but significantly more sunny. I confess to being sensitive to smoke, but I didn't mind in Hawaii -- the breeze always carried the smoke away.)

We stayed in a 25-floor hotel that was tiny but very comfortable, although I was annoyed that the "free Wi-Fi" advertised on the website was actually "free Wi-Fi by the pool" and the room internet was (a) corded, (b) cost $10 a day, and (c) hard-coded itself to one computer only, which meant that Husband was forced to learn how to tether his laptop to his phone. But that worked out alright. Funny enough, the hotel elevator system worked on a card-key scanning model: you scanned your room key and you were assigned an elevator. The elevator would only stop at the pre-scanned floors, and there wasn't an emergency stop button (unless you had the firefighter key), which serves as further proof that Richard Dawkins doesn't know everything about hotel elevators and how to exit them. Just in case we needed another reason.

We spent a lot of time in our room so that I could rest (and read blog comments and I hope there are no hard feelings left over from the GRRM discussion! This is the part of deconstruction I worry about: eventually I will alienate everyone on earth and then where will I be? *frets*) and so Husband could program. Let no one say we don't know how to conduct an almost-2-years-late honeymoon in style! When we weren't resting, we spent a lot of time swimming in the ocean (brisk!) and some short time sleeping on the sand (not so long as to get burned). We also went to an absolutely incredible luau show, went for a submarine tour, and then -- and I want to stress this was Husband's idea -- stopped at a teddy bear museum that appeared to be run by a grown-up and utterly delightful Luna Lovegood.

The submarine tour was especially interesting, although I was distressed to learn that at a 100 foot depth, the red spectrum of visible light has given up entirely and gone home, which means that Disney's "The Little Mermaid" movie is apparently a touch inaccurate for Ariel's hair to be a vibrant shade of red like that. Also it's possible -- although I'm not admitting this directly -- that while standing on the pitching deck of the submarine, I might have made a joke about Bella Swan and the number of times she would have fallen overboard at that point. Let the record show that I'm not humorless, I'm just utterly hypocritical. *shame*

Not everything on the trip was delightful. I was saddened by the large number of homeless people we saw sleeping on the streets in groups, and it really brought me back to the whole economy question at large and how lots of people are seriously hurting right now. I know I avoid a lot of that on the blog because I find current events to be the most depressing things ever, but here it was and I don't want to pretend it doesn't exist.

There were also subtle undercurrents of racism that I felt strongly guilty for witnessing and not actively fixing: the nice Australian man in the elevator who told us in conversation that there were "Japs" "all over the island" for some kind of sports tournament ("Maybe it's a positive word in Australia, like 'Aussie'?" I hoped.), the nice ticket seller who called our names to remind us to get in line (we were lost in our books) but didn't call to the other, non-white tourists; the nice couple who sat next to us at the luau and regaled us with delightful tales for thirty minutes before suddenly diving into jokes with racist punchlines (I, being the ultimate coward, hopped up mid-punchline, yelled, "I have to go to the bathroom," and ran out.), the nice tour guide who gave us instructions in English and then quipped "If you don't understand English, just keep doing what you're doing," which I thought was probably unnecessary. And I felt like a hypocrite for being all Oooooh Progressive Blogger, but not so much that I can get around my social Good Girl training.

And the luau. I loved the luau. I love hula dancing, I think it is just the most beautiful thing in the world (ballet being the next most beautiful thing for me). If there is such a thing as reincarnation and if we have any say in the results, I'm coming back with the intent to be a dancer. I was looking so forward to the luau, and it was incredible (in addition to the awesome dances, there were fire batons and somehow the dancer SET HIS TONGUE ON FIRE. And it didn't seem to bother him, which I thought was pretty dang impressive.). At the same time, though, I felt so conflicted because I know that the luau we saw very likely was not even remotely an accurate representation of the local culture, and additionally that elements like the "war dance" were almost certainly played up to fit the "aggressive savage" stereotype when the reality was (I'm guessing) probably closer to football-team aggression than murder-all-the-people aggression. So then I got absorbed in trying to decide if it was alright to sample an inaccurate representation of a culture for the sheer beauty of the art form or if that was exploitation that should not be subsidized fullstop but if that was the right thing then what would the dancers eat tonight, and I'm just not sure of the answer at all. And, wow, that was a tangent. Sorry about that.

Also we ate at a Japanese steak house where the cook grilled everything right at the table and he piled onion rings on top of each other and poured oil into the center of the ring statue an set it on fire and it was like an Onion Volcano. And then he diced my filet mignon into little steak cubes and they had a crusty outside and a sweet buttery inside that just seemed to expand in your mouth and ooooooOOOOooooooooOOOooh. Good. And the Crepe House was incredible: big crepe, a pizza-slice worth of whipped cream topped with strawberry and banana slices, and then everything wrapped up like a flat ice cream cone and eaten while you walk. Divine.

Anyway. I was impressed by how multicultural the island seemed to be from my limited perspective as a tourist: everything seems to be written in multiple languages (English + Japanese + Chinese + Korean), the submarine tour had a tour track with 11 different language options, and every convenience store offers rows and rows of rice balls with spam and seaweed and red cabbage and all sorts of things that looked pretty but which I didn't dare taste because my stomach is constantly plotting against me. The subtitles everywhere were especially cool, given that I hear a lot of complaining in Texas about everything being subtitled in Spanish these days -- what if you had subtitles in three non-English languages, Mr. Complainer? Oh, dear, your head just exploded on my nice shirt. Also, the two transsexuals working in the Crepe House who sang while they worked were awesome in every way, and I totally wanted to hang out there and be friends with them. You don't see that too often in Texas, and it's a shame, so good on you Hawaii in general and Crepe House in specific for being less judgmental than my resident state.

And while I'm thinking of it, I want to apologize to the Living Statue Guy: I'm sorry I screamed at the top of my lungs and jumped behind Husband when you pretended to try to grab me. I'm a little jumpy about personal space sometimes. I hope I didn't embarrass you too much.

I can't remember what else I was going to say, except that I'm really jet-laggy, I'm a little perplexed that I somehow went from being one week ahead on blog posts to MUST WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT CLAYMORE NOW-ville, and I hope that everyone still likes everyone else despite our spirited debates of spirited awesome. Additionally I meant to say something to lead in to showing you pictures. Um... here are some pictures. Enjoy!

View from the hotel porch.

Ana wishes St. Francis could share that whole "Patron Saint of Birds" thing.
Husband wishes Ana wouldn't clog up the hotel porch with hungry birds.

They're wolves, but they remind me of "The Cat Returns" anime movie.

This is an aardvark. It is the cutest thing in the whole world.

View from the dock before the submarine ride.

Did you know they just throw huge random stuff in the ocean so that the coral can grow?
It's pretty awesome -- there were two airplanes and a bunch of giant wine racks.

The teddy bear museum. They actually do animatronic hula dances.


redcrow said...

Welcome back, Ana!

Brin Bellway said...

I want to apologize to the Living Statue Guy: I'm sorry I screamed at the top of my lungs and jumped behind Husband when you pretended to try to grab me.

I did that by accident once or twice.
There's a sculpture in the front yard of the Cherry Hill Public Library. It's a man and woman relaxing at the park, the man reading a newspaper. One day, I realised the newspaper had actual articles on it, and squatted down to read them.
Every so often, people would come by on their way into the library, and I would look up and wave at them. A couple of them were shocked, having believed I was part of the sculpture.

depizan said...

Welcome back! Glad you had a fun vacation. :)

Amaryllis said...

Welcome back! I'm glad that you had a good time, and I hope you didn't worry about us too much.

chris the cynic said...

We missed you so much, and the blog burned down, and it was terrible! Thank god you're back.

Actually, you did a very good job of being present from Hawaii to the point that if you hadn't said anything I don't think I would have noticed you were gone.

It sounds like you had a great time and I'm glad to hear that.

And on a side note: The Little Mermaid is less than accurate? My childhood is shattered.

More seriously, random thought about The Little Mermaid and The Wizard of Oz:

Both are stories where the main character (Ariel or Dorothy) is trying to get to the world the rest of already live in (the human world for Ariel, not-Oz for Dorothy) in spite of being immersed in a world many times more awesome. I was going to say "seven times" but seven doesn't begin to cover it.

The message of the Wizard of Oz is explicitly that you should never go seeking out your heart's desire. You should never try to find Oz. The message of the Little Mermaid is basically the opposite but the destination is the same, this world rather than that one. Even if you started in that one.

Yet, and I could be wrong about this, I'm guessing that most of the people who really like those movies aren't enamored with the destination but instead the place the protagonist is trying to leave. The little girls who imagined themselves as Dorothy probably imagined themselves in Oz, not Kansas. They wanted to be in the place Dorothy wanted to leave. I'm guessing those who wanted to be Ariel probably wanted to be mermaids and may very well have agreed with Sebastian that it's better down where it's wetter.

Movies like these show wondrous worlds we wish we could explore, and then have the protagonist devote themselves entirely to the goal of getting out. They're were we would want to be, and then work tirelessly to get to the much less interesting place that we actually are. Though Ariel does become a princess for her troubles. On the other hand she was already a princess, so that's sort of a wash.

It would be one thing it the worlds they are trying to leave were sinister, but once the Witch is dealt with Oz is a safe place, and the under sea world of The Little Mermaid was, as far as I recall, not harboring much in the way of hidden darkness. (Ursula only found her way into the story because Ariel already wanted out.) They were as I recall strict about staying away from humans, but given how we'd likely treat mermaids if they were discovered there might be some sense to that.

Ok, so that was a tangent. Mostly I'm just posting to say, "Welcome back." Also, it's snowy here.

Ana Mardoll said...

I think your analysis from the movie-goer's standpoint is correct -- I liked how in "Peter Pan", J.M. Barrie lampshades this by saying that OF COURSE the Lost Boys completely regret their decision to leave Neverland but it was TOO LATE at that point. Ha.

Probably the message is supposed to be "the grass is always greener" (or, less cynically, "what you know is the mundane") in Ariel's case and, well, "there's no place like home" in Dorothy's case (doy). I *do* like that in the Maguire version of Oz (and perhaps the original versions -- I haven't read the Oz books), Oz is a very dangerous and dystopian place, so either Dorothy is very perceptive or very lucky to get the heck out of Dodge like she does.

Ariel had a decent sequel where she's seen loving her life and human family but craving her oceanic roots. She also kind of becomes her father in the process (The Little Mermaid: A Cautionary Tale!) but she gets better.

Oh, yeah, and it's cold here too. What the heck?!

Brin Bellway said...

There was frost on the ground during the morning dog-walk. Not that surprising. I expect the snow'll be along in a few days. (Or maybe not: the weather people say above freezing for the foreseeable future. Perhaps insta-melt snow.)

Gelliebean said...

I'm very glad that you enjoyed your vacation! Love the pictures. :-)

Kit Whitfield said...

welcome home, glad you had fun!

Dav said...

Welcome back! I think Hawaii could be very fun. I keep trying to convince my family that family reunions would be better if we all had hotel rooms to return to and beaches to play on (and yakisoba to eat), but they like going to a single cabin in the middle of the woods, which . . . is not my idea of fun.

I found out about the whole "turning into bubbles" ending of the Little Mermaid original story last year, which actually improved Disney's version for me, despite how chock full of fail I think Disney usually is.

And I've been listening to Georgette Heyer books all weekend, which is awesome, because she's hilarious, except when it's confusing, because the reader has a very strong British accent combined with slight recording distortion so almost none of the r's come through.

I did not write my personal statement for grad school, which is what I should have done, but I have total shut-down panic about it. Somehow I need to turn the whole "eh, I did the best I could at the time with all the stuff I wanted to do" into a Story with a Journey of the Mind, and . . . it feels like a total lie. (The only thing that doesn't feel like a lie is my rampant Imposter Syndrome. Even when I get good grades - I got a 91 on my last biochemistry exam - I feel like people are just being taken in by my facade.)

Cupcakedoll said...

I would've said that Dorothy and Ariel's stories are very different because Dorothy is trying to get back to her FAMILY, her aunt and uncle being the parents in her life. Oz might rock but you gotta have your family. In the later books Dorothy moves to Oz permanently and brings her folks along, so there's a happy ending. But Ariel, who I think is a few years older than Dorothy depending on what version we're using, is trying to ditch her loving family to chase her dream of a different life plus a boy. It would've been a very different story had there not been a boy involved.

The later Oz books are quite weird, you should give them a read Ana. In some ways they get better, in other ways they just get weirder. There's a lot of not-terror, things happen that would leave any sensible person gibbering in a corner and the characters just nod and cheerfully go have a picnic. I think there's a town where the people are made of bread and Toto eats part of the town and the bread people get mad... I dunno, talking, attacking food would sure traumatize me.

Ana Mardoll said...

I... what... huh? Toto eats bread-people? My god. o.O

I do have the books somewhere on eBook -- they're public domain, I believe, and someone slapped them into a single volume and tossed it up on B&N for a dollar awhile back, but... wow. o.O

Amarie said...

Welcome back, Ana!! Now I have my favorite internet snuggle buddy again! *pounces and snuggles with you* ^ ^

The views that you took are absolutely breathtaking and I'm thrilled that you had such a great time! Congratulations that you and your Husband got to have a honeymoon!*

*I personally think it's sweet that you both had to wait for almost two years...and you guys still went. Now *that* is commitment, Twilight. *winks*

Ana Mardoll said...

And we don't even sparkle! :P

Amarie said...

Yes! Haha! :D

Silver Adept said...

Hawai'i is a beautiful place. And very multicultural and fuses all of those cultures together, such that one gets spam on top of rice wrapped in nori.

Glad you went. Hope you can go back at some point.

(Also, here in Washington? Depending on where you are, your subtitles will be Spanish, Korean, Cyrillic, Chinese, Japanese, or something else entirely.)

Inquisitive Raven said...

Here in Philadelphia, the local convenience stores have ATMs with instructions in six languages. The main one I remember noticing is Polish. When I say local, I'm referring to a chain that's based in a Philly suburb. I've seen signs in Cyrillic in parts of the city as well.

Dav said...

Sort of a "cake or death" offer?

chris the cynic said...

My sister has made a cake or death sign to hang in the back window of her car. Picture of cake, the word "or", picture of a skull, question mark.

Joshua said...

Yeah, I guess so. The cake is usually a green-leafed twig. Afterwards there may be literal cake. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

The haka is not necessarily a war-dance, but it is a challenge, which during a meeting ceremony (powhiri) comes after an initial gesture of peace and serves to indicate by implication what could happen if the peaceful gesture were not honoured.

That was how the host described it, as you say -- that the people were coming in peace, but also demonstrating how dreadfully stupid it would be to turn down the peaceful offer. And there was a great deal of tongue sticking out...

Joshua said...

Ha! So accents work, but a simple bullet-point list doesn't. Go figure.

Inquisitive Raven said...

Ana, I'm curious; where in the islands were you?

I have family in Hawai'i, and I've visited a couple of times. I've stayed in Honolulu, Mau'i (don't remember the name of the town, but we did a three day hike across Haleakala crater.), and Hilo on the Big Island. As discussed in the last Twilight thread, Hilo is quite rainy. Actually, the windward side of the islands is typically very rainy, but the leeward side can be desert dry.

You see the same pattern on the west coast of North America. As moisture laden air is forced up over the mountains, it drops its load on the windward sides. By the time the winds pass reach the leeward side of the mountains, they've pretty much lost all their moisture, so you get desert on that side. This, btw, explains Forks.

jillheather said...

I haven't been back to Hawai'i in years, but where are you that the water there is anything other than perfect? Brisk is the Atlantic, way up in New England. (In July or August, hypothermic in winter.)

Joshua said...

If I put on my armchair anthropologist hat for a moment, and disclaim that I'm no expert on Polynesian protocols ancient or modern, it serves to illustrate the warlike nature of ancient Polynesian society. The powhiri (can we do proper character accents in disqus? pƍwhiri) starts out as non-confrontational as it is possible to be, and has a number of steps to establish trust between potentially violent strangers:

The women from the visitor's party starts singing outside the boundary of the meeting area, ensuring that no-one can mistake the visitor's approach as a surprise attack.
The peace gesture, offering a green-leafed twig, is done by several warriors who are obviously in a very vulnerable position, and so carry weapons, intimidate and act as aggressive as possible.
The haka offers a challenge to the visitors and a show of strength on the part of the hosts.

If, after all this plus the speeches, singing and prayers that form part of the protocol, everything is going smoothly, you finish off with a hongi, where each member of both parties press noses and foreheads. Clearly, you needed all the trust-establishing parts before you'd be willing to let people get that close.

Then comes food.

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