The Lure of the Islands

Aloha!
“She had loved islands from the time she spent her first summer on one. She was eight at the time. Thirty-four now, she still felt the island aura – – an isolation that made worries seem distant, a separation from the real world that lent itself to dreams.”
From “Sweet Salt Air” by Barbara Delinsky

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
When I was a sophomore in high school, my family had the good fortune to spend Christmas break on one of the Florida Keys. Having left snow, sleet, and icy roads behind in the Midwest, I was immediately hooked. Why doesn’t everybody live here? I wondered. And when I first came to Maui, I wondered the same thing. But being so far from the mainland isn’t for everyone. Or how slow the pace of life is. Or how hard it is to get things. Or, and this is a biggee…the high cost of everything, particularly real estate.

So what draws those who live on islands to be there? With the pace of life today, I offer another quote, this one from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

So maybe THAT’s what it’s all about. I get letters weekly from people who want to move to Maui and have many questions. Is everyone just really trying to get to the simplicity on the other side of the complexity that our world has become?

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

I’ll Be There For You

Aloha!

The 20 – some things I know are obsessed with the show “Friends.”
The catchy theme song alone will speak to that age group, and since fashion has been stuck in the skinny jeans/pin – straight hair rut for-ev-er, they can see themselves up on screen – – but with one major difference.

I happened to catch the episode recently where Rachel gives birth and the Friends get to come see little Emma Geller – Green for the first time. There is a reverent moment as they stand around the hospital bed and watch Rachel hold her… then they begin carefully passing Emma around. (Joey, of course, breaks the gravity of the moment by saying, “But, she looks so REAL!”)

And then it hit me. The Friends were having a moment, and no one had a camera or a cell phone. They said, “Me, next!” to hold the baby, not to snap a selfie with her so they could post it immediately. They were PRESENT. You could feel their very strong bond as a group. And wouldn’t those selfies be all about them and their reaction to Emma, instead of the joy of Emma herself?

And that’s why “Friends” wouldn’t get made today – – unless they did it as a retro show. I submitted a Family script to a producer who complained that there wasn’t enough technology in it.”But the character is TWELVE,” I said. “I did that on purpose.”

What does this have to do with Maui? When I moved here in 1999, I didn’t have a cell phone (just like the Friends.) I had to pay per call to talk to my mother. Today if she were still alive, we could Facetime each other in our kitchens.

And that is what makes a move to Maui easier these days – – you don’t have to lose touch with friends and family back home.

But, what about touch?

My friend Becky in California’s 98-year-old mother just fell and broke her hip in Minnesota. Do we really think mom is going to be happy with a FaceTime chat from her hospital bed? Of course not. Becky is making a plane reservation as we speak.

Maybe the 20 – somethings are so enamored with “Friends” for a subconscious reason: the very lack of technology. The Friends go hang out in each other’s apartments. They go to Central Perk and actually talk to each other, instead of staring at their screens.

The theme song says, “I’ll be there for you…” It meant in person.

Has that gotten lost in translation?

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right. Mahalo for readin along!

Aloha, Jamaica

The Logisitics of Living on an Island

Aloha!

Friends recented visited us from Oahu’s North Shore, and shared a story about trying to buy a car on the mainland. “But why would someone go all the way to the mainland to buy a car?” you might ask.

Well, there’s the fact that it costs around $8,009-$10,000 less on the mainland. And there’s so much less to choose from in Hawaii. (We won’t cover what it’s like trying to buy a car on Maui…. if the Oahu folks feel less than excited with their prices and selections, you can imagine our dilemma. Here, cars are first shipped from the mainland to Oahu, unloaded, put on a boat with Young Brothers and they ship them to Maui–with the attendant mark up. The last time we bought a used car we flew to Oahu, bought it, and had it shipped back to Maui.)

Sound crazy? Such are the logistics of living on an island.

So our friends called around on the mainland, located the exact car (Jeep) they wanted right down to the color, and put down a deposit on their credit card over the phone. Then they bought plane tickets and flew to California with the intention of driving their brand-new car around for 10 days rather than having to spend the money on a Rent-A-Car.

Except, that’s not what happened. They got to the car dealership and were told that their car has been sold. Seems the salesman was not allowed to take a deposit over the phone, as in, “We don’t TAKE deposits!” Our friends fired back, “Well someone here sure did!” But they apparently had put that salesman in the Jeep Witness Protection Program and wouldn’t let them talk to (yell at) him.

Lots of negotiating ensued as our friends worked their way up the management food chain. They demanded their airfare be covered. They demanded money for a rental car, since they now had nothing to drive and hadn’t budgeted for a rental. On and on it went.

But management wouldn’t budge. Our friends had to get on the phone and start all over trying to find the Jeep of their dreams. As luck would have it, they found one for less money, and it all came out okay in the end. But it was very tense there for a while–they probably got a few grey hairs. They still had all the time and paperwork of registering, licensing and then shipping the new car to Hawaii–and every person they talked to from the DMV to the dealership to the shippers gave them a different story. Quite the run-around.

Just thought I would share this as one of the essential logistics of living in Hawaii: do we REALLY want to go try to find a car on the mainland, then have to ship it, to save about ten grand?

And just in case you are wondering: we recently shipped a car from the mainland that was already registered in California. It was significantly higher to register it in Hawaii, as was the insurance. California charges for registration according to how old the car is (so the fee drops over time) and Hawai charges according to weight. I’m pretty sure my car weighs the same from one year to the next! So this explains why every year when I would say to Mike, “Doesn’t it seem like our registration should’ve gone down by now?” that I was pipe – dreaming. It’s not going to go down.

Logistics are those things that people who have never lived in Maui
1) don’t think about, and
2) probably don’t believe, even after we explain it to them.

One of those joys of living on a rock in the middle of the ocean!

A hui hou. Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Goldilocks and the Three Towns on Maui

Aloha!

A recent letter from a reader who wants to move to Maui asked, “What’s the prettiest town?” I think that’s a very subjective thing, and I can’t choose pretty for you any more than you could choose it for me. A better question might be about the weather of the town you choose to live in. For instance, I was at a party up in Kula, and everyone there was freezing. It was an outdoor party, and the windchill felt about 30°. I was wearing the same leather coat I wear in San Francisco and was still cold. After you live in Hawaii a while, your blood thins out and you can’t take the cold anymore, particularly if you live at an elevation that is always warm.

At the party I visited with a lady who had moved from Oahu (very warm there) and needed to choose a place to live on Maui. Her husband asked, “What about Haiku?” and the lady responded, “Too rainy.” Her husband said, “What about Hana?” The wife responded, “Too remote.” (At least she’d done her homework, lots of people don’t). So they ended up in Kula, where there is less rain, but it’s too cold for her. I almost asked her, “So what about Kihei, or Lahaina? But I know what her response would’ve been: “Too crowded. Too hot!”

So it really is like Goldilocks, you have to pick what’s “just right” for you, and you alone.

I also spoke with another couple who recently purchased a home in Maui Meadows (a residential area up the hill from Kihei) after living in a condo for years. I asked why they moved, and he said, “It gets old living in a resort. Tourists coming and going all the time.” So that’s another thing to think about when moving here: condo life might sound wonderful and low – maintenance, but there are very few condo complexes on Maui that are long-term rental only. What that means is at least half (or usually a higher percentage) of the people on the property where you will be living are transient or tourists. There is no getting to know them better, and the worst of them really feel no obligation to behave. (“We’re on vacation…par-tay!!”)

Then there are the maintenance fees at condos…ask lots of questions. I was tempted to buy a lovely condo when I first loved here, till I found out the maintenance fees were $1,200. per month– and this was fifteen years ago!

If you’re thinking of a move to Maui, like Goldilocks, I hope you do your homework and find the area that is “just right.”

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

How Living on Maui Changes Your Money Habits

Aloha!

Well, you spend your money differently. The mainland has all those temptations that Maui doesn’t: Bed, Bath, and Beyond, for instance….which I call “the place with everything you never knew you needed, but have to have.” Same with Bath and Body Works. Wander through a place like that on the mainland and you’re buying those scented pump soaps because they’re five for $25.00 or whatever, and that’s money you hadn’t planned to spend. Now take away Michael’s huge craft store (and Richardson’s). Not to mention Kohl’s, JC Penney’s, Victoria’s Secret….Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, The Container Store. And of course, Nordstom and Neiman Marcus (“needless markup”) as my friend calls it.

But, you think, I’ll just end up ordering those things online. How will this save money? One word: shipping costs. Recently, I tried to order a sunscreen/moisturizer online that I’ve been using for years. Usually, I buy it when I’m on the mainland and bring it back (just like everything else) but I hadn’t been to the mainland lately. I’d had some luck ordering from them online before, but this time, two little bottles of cream were going to be $45.00 for shipping. (Would have been about $7.95 to ship on the mainland). I pleaded. Wheedled. Cajoled. “Can I just mail you a flat-rate shipping box? That’s $12.00, and I could get ten of those suckers in there!” No, they said. They were sorry, but shipping to Hawaii had gone way up, but most of it was the “handling.” Guess my sunscreen needed to get a massage before they could put it in a box.

These are not luxuries, they are everyday items that people on the mainland take for granted. Eventually, you just learn to do without. Eventually you learn to stop wanting. A Pottery Barn chair? That’ll be extra shipping (see the special little “shipping to Alaska and Hawaii” box), then an additional $250.00 just ‘cuz you have the audacity to live on an island.
Actually, it’s probably much more than that, because I haven’t bothered to check on Pottery Barn anything in like ten years.

So, you think, I’m gonna save a bundle without all these tempations, right? Uh-uh. All that money you’re saving goes right to the high costs of food, housing and gasoline.

Before gas prices dropped, World News would say that California (or wherever) had the highest gas prices in the country. They would name some figure like $3.68 per gallon. We would want to throw a shoe at the telecaster. Hello! We’re paying $4.68 over here. Are we not part of the country?

Actually, when you live on this island, you’re not. You are on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Entire fashion and housing trends pass you by like they never happened. People on the mainland get their shorts in a twist about things that don’t affect us, and we have major situations here that mainland people are blissfully unaware of. (The Big Island dock damage /closure after the earthquake comes to mind.)

Living on Maui, you not only spend your money differently, you think differently, act differently, feel differently.

Stay long enough, and this island will forever change you.

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Hawaiian Pidgin 101

Aloha!

Here is a little primer for you the next time you are standing in line at Longs drugstore in Hawaii, listening to pidgin fly between the cashier and a customer. (Did you know that all the Longs stores changed their name to CVS except in Hawaii? It was such a long-standing institution here, they must have figured there would be a revolt. I’m a bit surprised that Walgreens dipped their toe in the water here, because the locals are so loyal to Longs drugs.)

So here’s your primer:

image

Aloha, and happy shopping!

Jamaica

Life is Waiting

Aloha!

“All of our lives are finite. Stop living like you have forever. Plan for the future, but don’t forget to sometimes live like you don’t have one.”
Phil Bennett

So what have you been putting off? What’s on that bucket list? A move to a warmer climate, perhaps… those of you up to your eyebrows in snowdrifts, plotting your escape?

I know a psychologist who got moved to another division with her job. This move actually places her in mortal danger every day… she’s working with dudes who have murdered people, nice things like that. Her cortisol levels are through the stratosphere and she is not the same person. She plastered a large sign on her office wall, marking down the days till retirement with a big X on each day. The thing is, her husband shakes his head and says that she really can afford to retire. It could save her health and sanity, so why not? Sometimes people just can’t quit, even if it’s in their best interest, even if it’s killing them. Even if the writing is in big letters on the wall.

We all get stuck. Sometimes it’s very hard to see the big picture. Could you really rent out your house and at least TRY to live your dream? Could you take classes while continuing to work that will open up doors to that new career? Could you write that novel on your weekends? (See “The Weekend Novelist” by Robert J. Ray).

Years ago I had an idea for a nonfiction book (rule# 1, find a need and fill it). I didn’t know how to write nonfiction. I didn’t know how to do footnotes. But I taught myself. Then everyone said I’d have to get an agent or I wouldn’t be able to sell it. I threw that rule out the window too–wrote a killer proposal and cover letter and that book was sold within the year. (Trust me, these things don’t usually happen overnight.)

The point is, sometimes we have to stop playing by the rules. Sometimes we have to stand on the roof and jump off (hello, Hawaii, here I come!) to get what we really want, even deserve, in life. Sometimes we break an ankle, but we might also learn to fly. So paint that picture. Take those photos. Learn to race a race car.

What are you dreaming of?

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica