Sunday, January 13, 2008

Keep/Give Away/Not Sure: A decluttering ritual

I wrote this today-thinking that many parents and couples are probably going through this after the holidays---this is for them.

A Decluttering Ritual

This new year ritual spans
More than one sunny-rainy-gray
than sunny, bright again afternoon to
Sort through receipts
count the money we wish we had
And mourn the reserve we shouldn’t have spent

Days past the epiphany
We wrestle with
What to keep, give away,
Which to donate
Which to sell

There in the middle of the room
stands the green plastic box labeled NOT SURE

Along with
The hook and eye
of an old pair of favorite
unflattering khaki pants that
Hang on like a bare thread
The steardy storage container holds
recycled arguments between us
Spilling, unraveling out
Words-NOT SURE- are taped on and written in black ink
Can it be repaired?….

De-cluttering demands brutal honesty…
My karmic cleaning partner for life says-
What's the worst thing that would happen if you got rid of it?
Is it beautiful, useful, or loved?

My back responds first in silence,
Tears come after
I turn
He moves to meet me
His forehead rests on mine
We return to this frustrating place
ugh-again, again, again-
but until we finally accept the lesson

To each other this ritual of recycling must be re-found to be
Beautiful, useful, and (re)loved.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Early marathon start

4:20ish AM: The whole Caligtan-Tran ohana are awake. Silence blankets Honolulu. Into the night, the three of us pack in to our mini van as our housemate wishes us well as we depart .

4:35 AM: Driving in complete silence, the car holds a reflective anticipation. We turn onto
Pensacola Street. Other cars ferry runners who will be engaging in this annual running ritual of carrying one's body and spirit for 26.2 miles. From Pensacola, the runners will walk to Ala Moana street and wait for the fireworks to signal the start. Though we have done this now annually for 5 years, I know this race will be different for Paul. This time, this marathon is for setting personal records and dedicating his efforts to something much bigger. Before he says goodbye, I make sure to say "I love you."

4:50 AM: Malaya and I drive to Chinatown to catch the first leg of the race. We park right before the road blocks near Hawaii Theater and walk down the middle of Nu'uanu street which is completely empty, except for one lone police car and officer who watches us take to the center of the road instead of the sidewalk.
As we proceed to Merchant Street, I feel little drops of water fall from the sky. I brace inside knowing that the runners will have a quite day with possible winds and rains ahead of them. I
unfurl our yellow and blue umbrella and raise it to honor the elements who will have their way.

4:55 AM: We reach our cheering outpost at Murphy's Bar. Malaya and I find a Santa in his Berumda shorts and red coat, and black belt. "Look, there he is!" I say. Malaya's eyes become wide and she looks to me for confirmation. The other adult spectators milling in the doorway smirk and laugh. Malaya's simple delights makes it worth it for me to be out here this god-early.

The Irish pub restaurateurs welcome us in and Malaya lies down in one of the booths. Santa warns her, "Don't got to sleep!" She lifts her head and sits up quickly and watches him as he puts on his white beard.

Folks generously offer us sandwiches and sympathetic smiles. When do you expect him to come by?" they ask.

"He's hoping to run right under 4 hours," I offer.

"Should be 5:30," Santa predicts.

I get my camera ready as the first race chair runners come through, escorted by cyclists.

5:05 ish AM: Shortly after, three Kenyans and one Ethiopian from the leader board run in a tight pack. Moving at less than 5 minutes a mile, they elegantly zip by. Santa barely gets a shaka up. A good space of time passes and then the rest of the front runners pass by. I look for the few women and give an extra loud shout.

5:15-5:30 AM: More runners turn the corner. The street slowly begins to overflow with runners into the sidewalk. We see the man who annually wears his Maori warrior regalia and runs in bare feet. We see an old friend, Kaipo. We see runner after runner. And then-just as Santa thought...."There he is!" we spot him, "Papa!" Malaya and I say in unison.

Relief and tears come to my eyes. He smiles, gives a wave, and passes. It is a brief moment that will be among many today. And it will be repeated among many of the support teams lining Hawaii's streets from downtown to Hawaii Kai today.

Five minutes later, the sky opens up with torrential rain. I say a prayer, go home with Malaya, and prepare for the big finish line greeting.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

NYC and DC Fall Break highlights

There is so much to detail of our trip to NYC and Washington, DC.

So here's a quick list:

- Visited with new parents and friends, Shaireen and Joe and baby Amaya in Brooklyn.

-Learned more about Joe's home business, Counter Sourcing, Inc. and was impressed by how this modern couple holds it all together. Also, met Shaireen's auntie, Yasmine Kabir and learned about her films. Saw the first night of the full moon from Prospect Park

- Transferred to mid-town the next day amidst the hub-bub of Bush speaking to the UN and the Iranian President addressing Columbia University

- Helped out with my sister's last minute wedding details. Got to see the second night of full moon from her place in Spanish Harlem

- Paid respects at Ground Zero and quiet time at St. Paul Chapel

- Connected with lots of family and friends we hadn't seen in years.
Got to experience the excitement of a New York wedding and
the blending of various Igorot, Filipino, and Italian cultural traditions

- Hosted post wedding brunch for family and out of town guests at Cendrillon.-- Thanks to Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, we were able to compliment their delicious Filipino cooking with my Auntie's tupig (sweet rice and coconut wrapped in banana leaf) which we brought from Hawaii. Also big mahalos to Johnny Brillo-who just moved from Oahu to NYC- and connected us with Kaina Quenga, who danced three beautiful hula for our small family event.

- Thanks to Shalani Kantayya, we attended the Lark's Closing night of their playwright's Week, highlighting South Asian plays in development. Met other playwrights working on pieces taking on redress for the African American community and truth and reconciliation processes in Central America.

-Rode the Ferris wheel with Malaya twice at the Toys-R-Us at Times Square.
Had carrot cheese cake with Jimmy P at Junior's.

-After 11 years, got to talk story with Wai.

-When plans to spend the weekend in San Francisco got derailed, we headed to DC to be with my parents.

-Got to attend the conference, What's the economy for, anyway? and The Green Festival I loved that it was a family affair! All of us- Mom, Dad, Malaya and I went. There was something for everybody!

-Caught one film highlighting Robert Cazamiro's Halau Na Kamalei from the DC APA film festival with my cousin, Chris. We ran into Gem D. and Wilma C there and had dinner afterward at Wilma's favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Clarendon.

-Also snuck in breakfast with Stacy B and friends at Eastern Market. Malaya and I had a home cooked meal with high school and college buddy, Katie W! Got to meet her beautiful girls, Zoe and Clara and supportive partner, Torrey.

Whew... what a whirlwind! I gave myself yesterday to unwind from this all. There are so many stories to tell. I look forward to the next few days to take a few moments of the above and unweave and reweave them here.

For now, I am so grateful for the waters at Kaimana that welcomed us home.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Summer Vacation is Over!

First day of second grade begins today!! Paul has made Malaya's lunch and we are ready to go!

Monday, June 25, 2007


Paul's cousin, Kimi, just shared this with us from our trip to DC last January. This image of Malaya reminds me as a mother,
that sometimes, listening, is enough.

Monday, April 30, 2007

After 11 years-photos and reflection in three parts

I. On Saturday, Paul turned 45. We celebrated on Sunday at Kaimana Beach with friends and the core group of students who helped organize the Global Night Commute. In a circle, before we ate, we went around and in the family tradition offered our gratitude and requests for universal guidance. I offered gratitude for Paul-a good man that has helped me grow and asked for guidance for further growth together. In honoring my partner, I had realized that Paul's greatness, had been diffused or temporarily hidden under piles of laundry, pending bills, and getting our daughter to school, soccer, gymnastics, and hula. And that we in our busy-ness needed to also slow down and take a moment.

Later a conversation emerged about marriage, divorce, second and third marriages, and the stages of marriage. And I was touched with both the wise cracks and reflections people shared about commitment and the deep allowing and balance required between needs and wants of each partner. We were asked to share the story of how we met and in the telling, I watched myself and Paul recollect details, noting how each of us told our version. We have told this story to many different listeners and on many different occasions. But because this was mixed audience of college students and friends, I was initially unsure of how much should be disclosed.

"Tell them how you had just broken up with an ex-fiance and how you were clear about not committing," Paul said.

Initially, I balked because he was willing to be so open. Throwing me a line, a friend commented, "You were wise to be sure that you fully completed one thing, before you started another."

I was glad that the students heard that, as many of them were not in serious relationships or in a relationship just yet. I remembered myself at that age, wanting to hear how couples connected, particularly those who I admired because of their political commitments and active lives dedicated to art and justice.
I remember as a college student, meeting Bill and Yuri Kochiyama , staying at their place in Harlem, and being in awe of their union and thinking, that I wanted to be in a partnership like that.

Years later, I read Diane Fujino's biographical account of Yuri and I honed in on the chapter on their relationship and how at times it was burdened by much of, Yuri's social justice work. I contrasted the image I made of Bill and Yuri in mind at 19, with what I knew as mother and partner in my mid-30's.

Loving one person and loving the world and being available to its calling for you to give your gift is close to impossible and quite a sacrifice. Bill had to learn how to share Yuri as Paul and I have to had learn to share each other with our callings and passions. Luckily, many of our callings and passions are aligned and we are sympathetic to their rhythms and how each may be pulled.


As a feminist and from personal experience, I have given up on the fantasy of happily ever after a long time, ago. And to the tell the truth, I've been very skeptical about the whole institution of marriage for a very long time. Perhaps this comes from a deep seated, karmic fear of being stuck and trapped in something emotionally stagnant and oppressive. And perhaps it also comes from a deeper liberatory impulse and desire to experience marriage as a magical, alchemical container for one's best self to emerge much like a butterfly emerges from the warmth of a cocoon. Each partner is supported to grow by the other, but one is also free to fly, unfettered by jealousy or possession. Part of me believes that if committed relationships could me more like that latter, the better chance we have at transforming and releasing more love into the world.


Later, as we were packing up the family van to leave, I asked for Paul to take a photo of me with him. Many of our pictures, I realized, were only of our daughter or one of us with her. There are very few images we have of showing just the two of us.

These photos here remind of a time when we first a couple. A earlier time of lightness. They also show promise of a joy and deep laughter that can only emerge after years of bearing witness to each other after 11 years.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Global Night Commute/Sleep Over this Friday!

Last year around this time, Paul-my partner-asked if the family could participate in this event called the Global Night Commute for his 44th birthday. I had no idea what it was, until Paul brought home this DVD called Invisible Children.

I was touched by the narratives of the Invisible Children filmmakers who had been transformed by witnessing the tragic humanitarian crisis affecting children in Northern Uganda. I was even more deeply touched, that Paul-a child survivor himself of the Vietnam war-had connected with this massive national youth organizing effort and was so moved to join a local overnight sleepover at the Hawaii state capitol to demonstrate support for stopping the abduction of child soldiers.

Over this past year, Paul has followed the good works of the Invisible Children effort and the Caligtan-Tran family will be celebrating Paul's 45th birthday in the same way, advancing a cause very dear to his heart. Malaya, our daughter, will also be sharing her poetry. (I've enclosed footage below of her participating in last year's event to give you a sense of what it will be like.)

Please find below further details put together by Hawaii Pacific University students that Paul has worked so diligently with. Join us if you can!:

“Global Night Commute/Sleep Over” begins this Friday, April 27th at 6:30 p.m. at the Hawai’i state capitol. It is an overnight event. Entry is free. “Global Night Commute/Sleep Over” will end the following morning of April 28 at approximately 7 a.m. On April 28th, 2007 when we wake up here in Hawai’i, the nationwide “Displace Me” event will kick in which will included over 15 cities.

The intent of the night is to encourage genuine compassion in the hearts of the participants towards the Invisible Children of Uganda and the population of 1.5 million that have been displaced to IDP camps and to positively impact US foreign policy in relation to Northern Uganda’s peace process.

During this evening you will be encourage to participate in various activities, hear and see performances by others who were moved by Invisible Children just like you and for those who did not have a chance an opportunity to watch the “IC” documentary. You will be asked to write letters to your senators and policy makers to encourage American involvement in ending the war in Northern Uganda, in order to send the Acholi people suffering in the camps and the abducted children back home. The point of the event is to travel and to become displaced for one night.

To experience this event at its full potential, you will be asked to bring saltine crackers and water. This will enhance the overall event experience, as well as your understanding of what life is like for those living in the IDP camps. We encourage you not to bring other food or drink besides the saltine crackers and water bottles if possible.

What is a displaced camp?

The Lord’s resistance Army (LRA) has abducted thousands of children, subjected them to torture or sexual violence and forced them to fight in a violent guerrilla army for 21 years—making it the longest running war in Africa. In hopes of providing protection from this rebel militia, the Ugandan government forcibly evicted its Northern citizens from their homes—giving them 48 hours to relocate into camps. Today, more than 1.5 million Northern Ugandans remain far from secure, suffering nearly 1,000 deaths per week due to inhumane living conditions in the camps.

Alcoholism, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS, inadequate sanitation and lack of education have caused immeasurable damage to two generations and the near-total destruction of Acholi culture. Water is scarce and people are reliant on food to be delivered by foreign aid. If the food isn’t delivered, the people starve. This April, the already meager rations delivered by the World Food Program to the camps will be cut in half due to lack of funding—with school feeding programs and support for HIV/AIDS victims soon to follow. This will indisputably increase the number of deaths among those already suffering from severe malnutrition—mostly among women, children, and the elderly. That is why the timing of this event and your participation are so crucial.