September 28, 2004

Be a man!

I have joined the Men's Yoga Retreat at Kalani --- a week of men-only Yoga classes. Partner yoga, Kundalini, and more, including yoga on the beach. And some field trips too. So far, it's been hard but extremely enjoyable and strengthening --- and, while I love doing Yoga with my wife, it's very nice to be surrounded by more than a handful of people with hemstrings as inflexible as mine, and with similar strength and weight to assist me with poses. Most of the other participants in the group are guests, so I'm getting to meet a lot of neat people this way; and it's time off work.

But the weird thing is that Mulan plays in my mind all the time in these yoga classes...

There's this scene in Mulan where the men train for battle and sing...

Chien Po:
I'm never gonna catch my breath

Say good-bye to those who knew me

Boy I was a fool in school for cutting gym

(Be a man)
We must be swift as a coursing river
(Be a man)
With all the force of a great typhoon
(Be a man)
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

There are definitely times when this song reflects how I feel. Though there's a reprise of this song at the end of the movie, when the men are dressed in drag... that might be more accurate as this is a Gay Men's Yoga retreat: just kidding --- it is indeed a Gay Men's Yoga retreat, but there's no cross-dressing. There is plenty of running around naked, though, especially doing nude yoga on the beach (which is a wonderfully serene experience with the ocean waves cleansing away all thought).

And, in case you are wondering, no it's not at all weird being straight and surrounded by gay men --- as long as we all know which team we're pitching for, there is clear and definite respect of boundaries, and no sexual overtones interfering with our athletic or spiritual activities. Ironically, last week, I found myself in a sort-of reverse situation, doing dolphin dance with 12 or so naked women and being one of two (also naked) men in that pool. There was definitely more tension in that setup, largely because some women tended to alter their dance movements as soon as they sensed that they were in contact with a man (we are more hairy and rough to the touch, so you can tell the gender even under water). On my part, either setting is the same: everyone knows I'm married (and I now appreciate having a wedding ring to make it bloody obvious), and I'm there for the activity, with all other participants being just fellow human beings --- the particulars such as gender are totally irrelevant. In fact, it would probably not have occured to me to even mention all this in this blog if it weren't for the few other straight guys in Kalani who exhibit a contrasting discomfort in similar settings.

Anyway, Christine and I shared a very cool experience on Sunday: a first course in sign language. John is a deaf volunteer (he can read lips), and taught an introductory course to the volunteers; it was wonderful, and absolutely fun. An FAQ: sign language is not the same across countries (and spoken languages): signs are often made with the hand spelling the first letter of the signed word (which varies across spoken languages), and some signs have strong cultural ties (e.g. the sign for "boy" is touching the tip of an invisible baseball cap... not all countries have baseball).

And the coolest of all experience so far in Kalani was yesterday afternoon: I swam with dolphins. Real dolphins. They were sighted off the nearby beach and I hopped on the first ride I could find, went there, waited for any partner to show up and join me for the swim into the open water (see, the water was choppy and the surf was quite rough, and I had promised Christine I'd be safe), and then swam and waited... I could hear them talking in the water, and sometimes I'd see bubbles rise up from the bottom, but it took some time till they came up to breathe. There weren't that many of them (just four of five, including a baby), but they were so beautiful, sleek, and graceful that it was thoroughly mesmerizing being just 6-7 feet away from them. Even if it was just for a few seconds each time. I'm so glad I went as soon as I heard they were here because as soon as I returned to the beach, they had left; and they did not return today. I'm just sad Christine was working and wasn't able to join me; then again, the water was so rough that she wouldn't have enjoyed it as much (despite being a strong swimmer, she tenses up in rough water).

Posted by Toli at 07:21 PM | Comments (5)

September 19, 2004


What Christine carefully omitted from her log entry is the name we gave to the special gecko in the kitchen... You see, its tail has been chopped off yet it's still an effective bug hunter, so we (meaning it was all Christine's idea, honestly) thought of it as a great Klingon warrior: "Today is a good day to lose a tail". So we call him Tail-less. [For the non-trekkies, a great Klingon warrior was named Kahless.]

But there's more to our trekkie insanity...

At night, you can see the most beautiful starry sky: not only is the Milky way clearly visible, but you can even distinguish the denser (and brighter) sections of our galaxy from the sparsely populated ones. Incidentally, that's because air pollution is non-existent (whatever bad stuff goes up blows away into the ocean) and, due to the observatories on the mountains, there are strict ordinances limiting light pollution too. Anyway, I was staring into the night sky on a moonless night while swimming at the pool, and slowly the stars started disappearing --- a cloud was covering the sky, but at night you don't see a cloud: you just see the sky becoming black. And so I though of the Voyager episode "The Void" (season 7 ) where Voyager finds itself in a region of space without stars...

Thankfully, the crowd here mostly appreciates this oddity of ours. During a dinner, one of my maintenance co-volunteers said that his favorite Next Generation episode was The Picard (that's not the title, but that's not the point), and Christine responded with the year it was shown on TV. The next day, he told me that my wife was a keeper: not only is she beautiful, sweet, and smart, but she is also a trekkie.

One thing I've realized at Kalani is that I am hopelessly a geek. Some people are drawn to computers to make money --- a safe job. I just love computers, period. Here at Kalani, I'm setting up a security system based on a digital camera continually feeding photos onto a computer, and I'm writing the software to retain only useful photos (with people/cars in them). And I'm helping the IT guy set up a linux file server (which is free), thus saving Kalani $1,500 from buying a worthless piece of crap (the Windows server operating system). Both tasks are part of my regular work hours, not extra --- and I volunteered to do them, and I'm having a blast doing them. So computers and hi-tech will definitely be part of my life in the future.

We also had a funky guest come to Kalani --- her name was Ethel. Actually, it was Esther, but I kept confusing myself because I kept thinking of "Ethel the Aardvark goes Quantity Surveying" (that's from an odd Monty Python skit) for no really good reason. Ethel was a New York girl --- Asian family background, works for a cosmetics firm, paid over $200 a day to stay at Kalani, and loves fashion. What makes her funky is that, for some odd reason, others at Kalani confused her with Christine. To me, they were nothing alike, but because Christine was no longer the only Asian, people got confused. What's also odd is that she sort-of lives the life Christine might have lived if she had not met me and moved to New York after Austin. Funny how, 6 years later, the two of them are day and night --- the hippie chick I love and the city girl who is as strange to me as starfruit.

Finally, Christine had a tarot card reading the other day --- not the divination kind, but rather a reading focused on helping her understand her present self and her path in life. What was most funny about it was the card that came up to describe the goal of her personal journey. Contrary to her parents' wishes, it wasn't a doctor, it wasn't a lawyer, it was "The Rebel".

I'll go sleep with my wonderfully unique Che now... or will she be my sexy Dr. Crusher tonight?

Posted by Toli at 02:59 AM | Comments (1)

September 18, 2004


We've almost been here a whole month, and this is only my third log entry from Kalani. It's been hard finding the time with all the work and activities going on. Even choosing between activities can be tough - like going to "Dolphin Dance" (yes, we're still hooked on that) versus going to "Kirtan" (this type of chanting/drumming night that's supposed to be incredible) - or deciding to miss a favorite yoga class to go to the tidepools nearby and sit in the waves. It's so funny that our difficult decisions of the day have been boiled down to just that - which class do I take, which game do I play, etc.

As "manual laborers" around here, we don't even make any real decisions in regards to our work, which can be pretty routine and straightforward. It's hard not to want to jump with our opinions on how to make things better, more efficient, etc. and sometimes we do contribute a new idea or volunteer to try something new. But Toli and I have been careful not to let the work aspect of life here occupy more than our stated commitment. We're here to explore other things, not ponder the best way to organize the cleaners in the housekeeping van or paint the closets in the guest rooms.

And on that level, we've definitely had our hand in just about every activity and event offered here. We do yoga at least 3x a week, usually more, and in every variety offered here - hatha, kundalini (breathwork/focused), yin (cold/stretchy), restorative (relaxation), gentle (misleading name, it's just easier hatha), and even a combination of martial arts and yoga. Toli plays volleyball with the staff and the locals a couple times a week and swims about a kilometer a day, which is making him super-fit. I've been focused more on doing creative and crafty things, like learning how to weave lauhala leaves into bracelets, fans, and mats (will try a basket next week) as well as making lei necklaces and sewing decorations for our A-frame. I've gotten involved also with a creative writing circle every week, which is fortunate since my journal has been badly neglected since coming here. And, like every good hippie, we made tie-dye shirts last week. Toli and I also get involved in a lot of the dance/bodywork classes like hula, the aforementioned Dolphin Dance, and Aqua Vecchi.

In addition to all the planned activities, there's a whole other set of activities that the volunteers come up with. I swear, it's just like being at camp. There's been ping-pong tournaments, weekly Balderdash matches (which conflict with hula - sigh), and the maddest Twister game I've ever played. I'm usually good at Twister, but when playing against people who've been practicing yoga more intensively than I have, I haven't a chance!!! This afternoon we're having a dodgeball match in the tennis court, and I'm really trying to keep my traumatic childhood memories of that game at bay so I can step in and have some fun. :)

And like the crazy felinophiles we are, Toli and I have cozied up to most of the cats at Kalani. There's Ginger, who looks like a cross between Pascal and Perl and who prowls the dining area begging all the time. Silas, the alpha-cat, who is a beautiful white cat with grey patches and who never sleeps with the same human for longer than week. Tigerlily, the grey-striped tabby who chirps and purrs and will follow you around for treats. And Scraggle, the shy tortie who looks like SeQueL gone through a bleach cycle in the laundry. We've also named the geckos in our A-frame and a distinctive one who hangs out in the kitchen.

We've been so active that we didn't even notice a few days ago when the PBX switch at the office went out, taking down all the phone lines with it! Luckily the Internet still works, but we won't even be getting our phones back on until Tuesday!

So those are our excuses for why we've been so out of touch lately. I'm actually thinking about curtailing a few activities here and there so I can have more time to journal, write, and reflect. We were so sure we'd have a lot of time here to do that and focus on some major decisions that will influence our future, but we've been having too much fun playing here. Sigh. But it's so easy to put those big decisions off in favor of these more immediate ones like whether or not I'll go to yoga next week or skip it to see a Hawaiian dance performance...

Posted by Christine at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)

September 08, 2004

All we are saying...give peasoup a chance!!!

I'm supertired from working four shifts in a row since Sunday, so here are just a couple of short lines to make you smile:

* The title of this entry comes from what a little group of us started singing at the dinner table. They served this amazing peasoup last night, and we were trying to get everyone to try it - even though it had dairy in it, and the vegans were afraid.

* I'm totally hooked on the watsu pool (that warm water pool where we do "Dolphin Dance") - we tried another class called "Aqua Vecchi" which is a water-massage class. I think I could just live in a watsu pool for the rest of my life.

* Toli's really gotten into yoga after taking his first class only two weeks ago. I caught him snoring during the "shivasana" part of class last week - he was so relaxed! So relaxed, in fact, that he's downright forgetful these days. He's constantly leaving stuff behind - keys, mosquito repellant, towels. His cowboy hat, which he wore through Europe and Asia without a hitch, even went missing for a few days. Luckily, he found it again.

* We've befriended a lot of guests here lately. Craig from New York who teaches yoga to autistic kids - he's like a male version of Fay! Dieter and Elizabeth from Kona, who we were so interesting and inspiring we ate dinner with them every night they were camping here. And a family from Freiburg (close to where we "rescued" Fritz the bird) with three cute little kids.

* I've been asked my sign from a lot of people. They usually respond with, "Oh, I had the sense that you were an air sign" (I'm a Cancer - water sign) and then ask me what my rising planet is. I feel very odd not knowing what it is.

* Words that often come up in conversations around here: synchronicity, fasting, energy, flow, grace, sensual. And women call that time of the month "moon phase" instead of "period" - for some reason that always makes me giggle.

* I haven't gone topless or nude in the pool yet, but that may change out of pure laziness. I'm tired of having to change into my swimsuit twice a day each time I go swimming.

* I haven't done Rebirthing yet either.

Peace out!

Posted by Christine at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)