Monday, June 30, 2008

extra, extra

During Saturday's chaos of packing and getting to the airport, I got a phone call about an opportunity to be in a commercial. It would take all day Sunday, and maybe some of Monday, and was going to be filmed on the beach. My name had come up, invariably, when people were trying to think of Caucasian male who had nothing to do. Just for the record, I'd like to say that I have met other white males on this island who are bumming like me. But I'm not complaining. Other than a level 2 Reiki attunement I did a week ago, I haven't had any income since we won the 3-on-3 soccer tournament and I got 100 bucks. Not to say that there haven't been any chances for some work here or there, but I have been enjoying my lack of responsibility. But this commercial job sounded like the perfect way to do nothing while making money. And hang out on the beach!

I made it to the site about twenty minutes after eight, wearing a t-shirt and board shorts. Two Japanese staff members looked me over, and the produced a bag from the costume table and handed it to me, pointing me toward a nearby tent. I changed into a pair of khaki clamdigger-style shorts and a light blue button-up short sleeve shirt. Styling. They rushed me out to the beach where a group of about forty people in various bright clothes already stood. And so began the day.

They arranged us in loose rows, facing the camera. Then they began the process of "you here, you there" as they switched and arranged us in some order that I can only assume will look amazing in the finished product. They changed people's outfits, sometimes switching their clothes, sometimes producing a pair of scissors and exposing stomachs. They came by me and un-buttoned a couple buttons on my shirt. "More sexy now," said the Japanese man. I looked at the pretty Filipina girl next to me repeated the phrase questioningly. She looked at me for a second and then turned away, apparently not in agreement. The sun was already beating down and although I was right at the edge of the shade from a line of palm trees, many people were already sweating. After about 30 minutes of this, they marked our places and sent us back to the tents, where they had breakfast (Japanese style-thank you to Carmen for exposing me to this!) and cold sodas and Oolong tea in a can.

We sat for over an hour just talking amongst ourselves before they called us back out to the sandy beach. By now, it was almost 11 am, the sun was nearing the center of the sky and the breeze died the moment we all stepped foot out from the shade. We got to see the star actor finally. He was accompanied by an umbrella bearer, and makeup artists, as well as a guy with a little hand-held air-compressor that blew cold air. Maybe his face is well-known in Japan. He showed us to throw our arms in the air as we shouted out Japanese words and phrases. Then they brought us the cans.

The commercial is for a Japanese alcoholic beverage that comes in approximately 16 ounce cans. So here we all are sweating in the sun, and all of a sudden these guys rush out with platters full of fresh-from-the-ice-chest cans. They felt glorious! But no drinking! So for the next hour we held the cans and performed. They re-organized our groups, and shifted us around. Then they must have realized that a lot of us weren't even Japanese-I don't know if we were screwing up the words or what-but they removed all of us gaijin and sent us back to the tents. We didn't wait for the others to start eating the lunch that was provided.

After lunch it was back to the beach. More cans to hold, only now we had to pop open the cans and just hold them aloft! Soon people were pouring the cold liquid on their bodies. Some people were pouring the cold liquid in their mouths. Every time clouds obscured the sun we had to stop and wait. Sometimes we waited for the editing of a particular scene. I used to think that I sweat more than normal, but after looking around at some of the other guys, I realized that I'm pretty average in the amount of sweat produced category. We finished the commercial that afternoon. A bunch of the (white) folks managed to keep their (and others') cans and so headed out to their house to perform a taste test. They said it wasn't bad. I'll take there word for it. All in all, it was an easy days work. The agent just called me a minute ago. I'm headed over to pick up the cash. Look for me soon in the next Japanese beer commercial you ever see.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

going back to the states

When I first got to Saipan, it wasn't long before I heard of David, a licensed massage therapist who also lived here. His name was mentioned here and there as I met people and talked about my possibilities for practicing massage on the island. About a month ago, one of the Baha'is mentioned to me that their friend was leaving the island and had a massage table for sale. So he gave my number to David and we arranged a meeting. Neat how that worked out huh?

David runs on island time, or maybe it's "David time"-either way, it isn't that much different from my time and so it took us a couple tries to meet. I went to his house, and met his wife Teri, and their two year old son Kellan. I spent almost an hour there with them, as they shared their experiences of the last eight years with me. I didn't buy the table on-the-spot, but told David I'd call him about it.

I did buy the table from him, and we threw in all his sheets and a few bottles of oil to go along with it. He also offered to "transfer" several of his English tutorees to me. Sounded like a great idea to me, especially since I hadn't made any money since the 100 bucks I won in the soccer tournament. Now that I have the table I am starting to bring in a little bit of income, but tutoring takes a small amount of time and seems to be a good way to make some extra cash.

So on Thursday I met David at two of his student's apartment. I met Han and Joseph, sixteen and fourteen years old respectively, and their guardian Barbara. Koreans who all speak way better English than I do Korean-although I am having them teach me a little bit. I also bought a book called 'Making Out in Korean' which has lots of slang. So in effect, I'm not only trying to speak a language I don't know, but I'm trying to be "cool" to a couple of younger guys. This could be an international disaster of epic proportions. I get to see Han five days a week and Joseph twice.

The next day I went to David's to meet him and to be introduced to another one of his students. I proceeded him at the arranged time, and so when he and Teri arrived, I was suddenly aware of how little time they had before they left, and how much they still had to do. After a little shouting, David and I left and I followed him to the bakery where he met his next tutoree, an older-than-me Japanese woman named Sukiko. Unfortunately, he had neglected to tell her about his leaving. So our meeting consisted of a short explanation of his leaving, which involved a lot of Japanese, which David apparently understands and speaks a very little. Which is a very LOT more than I speak it. He left us to talk more, and she opened her English reader and we spent an hour speaking English. Sort of. I get to see her only once a week.

I spoke with David later and realized that it was physically impossible to get all of the stuff done that he needed to in the remaining twenty-four hours of his time on Saipan. Remembering how much assistance I had, and am still getting, that made my trip possible, I offered a little assistance in the form of picking up some boxes and taking them to the post office for them. I am pretty sure I knew deep down that it was going to be a lot more that.

So I now have a key to their house. Books. English-teaching materials. Food from their pantry. Three hundred dollars to mail three 50 lb. boxes and seven smaller ones. A pile of stuff to go to the garage sale store. I was there to help load the van from Teri's work with their stuff. I saw Kellan throw a fit as he was held by his mom, screaming for his nanny as the van drove away. I watched the nanny, Ann, fail to fight back sobs as she said goodbye to a two-year old she had helped raise. I talked with David about the way he was avoiding the emotions of the situation by putting every thing off to the last minute and rushing around at the eleventh hour. He admitted to it, but as we were getting ready to leave the house, with Teri and Kellan already gone, he bent and picked up a little sand shovel kit from the pile of give-aways. He muttered something to himself and then looked up at me and I could see the memories threatening his composure. He swallowed tears and said it was time to go. He had done most of his packing between 1:30 and 3 pm, although just like me, he didn't get everything done.

After a few stops, I got him to the airport-where he used to be employed by TSA, met up with Teri and Kellan, and along with her boss, said good bye to them all. I drove home to finally put away my groceries from an earlier shopping trip. When I reached my house and opened the rear door, my heart sank. Kellan's car seat was in the back seat-they needed it for him on the plane. I looked at my watch. 4:24. Their flight was scheduled to leave at 4:45. I called David. He answered. I live about 14 miles from the airport. 40 mph is the highest speed limit sign I have seen on this island. "I'll try to get it there" I said.

They got it. In the nick of time. One of his former co-workers met me at the TSA checkpoint and ran it to the plane. I realized how stressful ones leaving can be on the people left behind. Thank you again to all of you who made it possible for me to follow a dream. I love you all so much.

To sum it all up...on the race to the airport, I noticed that the car's alignment got a little bumpy around 70 mph. In the states, I would take the car to the mechanic and tell them about my problem and ask them to fix it. Here, if I took it to a mechanic, they would say the much more-obvious (and cheaper) solution.

"Don't drive 70 miles per hour."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Help a Child Today


Twelve year old Ali has lost everything and faces an uncertain future. The explosion that took both his arms also took his family and reduced their home to rubble. The hospital where neighbors took him, treated the life threatening wounds, but For Ali, there is no one to care for him or offer him comfort. He begs for arms so he can take care of himself, but he's twelve years old, he's just a boy, a frightened little boy.

Ali and hundreds more just like him, need us, they need the Foundations for Life program. Please consider helping us by making a contribution that will allow us to help these children.

CHILDSAFEfoundation est. 1993 is a private not for profit humanitarian organization dedicated to helping the most disadvantaged children survivors of war.


101 Main Street, P.O. Box 22 Madison, MO., 65263


CHILDSAFEfoundation is reaching out to the massage therapy community to ask for help. Our “Foundations for Life” limb replacement program for child victims of cluster bombs, and mines and other explosives is in trouble.

This past spring, in one week, five young cousins in Lebanon, playing in a field stumbled across a cluster bomb. All five injured, all five needing medical assistance. The same week saw a mother and her four children in Laos injured by a thirty year old cluster bomb that, unknown to them, had become lodged in the soil under their home.

CHILDSAFEfoundation can't budget for these kind of tragedies. It is impossible to know from day to day, season to season when the next explosion will take place. We only know that it will, and more children will be hurt as a result. Sadly, this happens far more often than people realize. Governments, in most of the countries with child victims, are ill equipped and lack resources to help these children.

As a massage therapist, you know what it is like to work with someone who's in pain, you see the effect this has on their lives. This allows you to better understand the kind of pain and suffering these children endure. You, better than most, know why helping these children is so important.

Childsafe has received a very generous offer: if we are able to raise one hundred thousand dollars between now and June 30th, a private donor will match, dollar for dollar, the money raised. This is an amazing offer, one that would allow us to continue our work through the summer and see us through till our regularly scheduled fund raiser this fall.

Please make a contribution today that you can comfortably afford. We have one week to double your money and this will allow us to continue help these children.

Make your online donation today at

On behalf of all the children who will be helped by this program and your generosity, thank you.


Jacqueline Beaudoin,

Childsafe founder

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

response to a comment on "unsure"

the comment was on my unsure post, down a couple weeks. he says:
I think that little voice is our king inside. The one who gives orders to our warrior self, congratulates him for his successes, and admonishes him for his failures. My struggle is in the practice of listening to that king. I'm a warrior by nature (I think) - I like to do, and often times I'm doing just to be doing, without real purpose, without direction from the king. That's very wasteful and I appear guilty before the king regularly.

My hope is to check in with the king once a day (bring myself to account), get my orders for the day and do them. Rinse and repeat. Well, and my king voice seems to need to be heard more regularly than once a day, maybe it's not a daily ritual, but a steady state of willingness to listen when the king is ready to talk. Or maybe it's both.

It's so easy to just go and do, we're praised so much for doing and praised so little for stopping to listen. Hmmm... how to overcome that temptation and stand before the king. Thoughts?

I am going to quote this from the book: Alcoholics Anonymous.
In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.
pgs. 86-87

Some other stuff I have read brings up a few more points. This paragraph seems to be speaking to those of us who are "new" at "talking" with our Higher Power. But it is important to realize that we can never be so close to God that we don't need to check our behaviors against other, more objective people. The idea that we receive direct inspiration from God can become a dangerous one if not tempered by the humility of our continuing reliance on other people for support as well. Although in theory a total reliance on the God-voice would be ideal, it seems that it would require a level of perfection from us that we are not able to consistently produce. Hence we are given wonderful people in our lives to provide dissension and confirmation to what we hear from within.

I think that the unavoidable conclusion of all of this talk is what I have never wanted to admit-that I have to "grow up" to be as wise as the "grown-ups". I always wanted to believe in my own intellect (still do) and ability. I wanted so badly to be a prodigy, the possessor of a wisdom beyond my years. Of course I also wanted this to be recognized by others. But I am coming to the realization that knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom. Neither is wisdom something that comes automatically with aging. It all takes work-application of the learned actions and ideas against a continuing experience of the reality all around me. Answers beget more questions. Learning begets more discovery. As of right now, I would have to say-as cliche as it sounds-that the more I learn, the more I realize I still have to learn. And that as I continue on my journey, I will learn to consult with my King more and more. It just keeps getting better with age, right J?

GMT + 10:00

Blah Blah That's the time zone I am in. It is 14 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time.
Now I don't watch a whole lot of TV. I have come to regard it with actual disdain. I was not a big fan of my parents and the daily restriction of half-an-hour that they placed on me as I grew up. Having emerged from my time spent under their rules, and my necessary rebellion at everything they proposed for me, I self-regulate myself to approximately an hour of television a week. When I did have cable last year, I spent my time building up my brain power by watching South Park episodes. Respect mah authoritah!
Here on Saipan I don't have cable-or even a television. But I was recently alerted to the 2008 European Cup soccer tournament, and I enjoy the sport so I decided to try and watch some of the matches. And herein lies the problem. When I asked the folks here when the game was they responded, "It starts at 4:45."
"A.M." I questioned.
Yessiree. So I set my alarm, went to bed early (Damn that was hard!) and got up and went to Dale's house to watch the game with some other devoted fans. But this got me thinking about some other sporting events. Like the recent NBA Finals. They all seemed to come on in mid-afternoon...hard to catch if you were at work, although several of the people I watched one of the games with claimed an "extended meeting" to make up for the absence at work. It is Saipan after all. What about something like the Super Bowl? Well, kick-off at 6:30 pm EST would be 8:30 am here. Heck of a time to start drinking at a Super Bowl party!
Nascar races would begin around 2 or 3 in the morning here...and go until near sunrise. And Monday Night Football is going to begin around 11 am come that time of year.
I'm just trying to point out the immense sacrifices that the dedicated sports fan has to make here on Saipan. It ain't me. I'm not gonna make those sacrifices. But some people will. Some people have to. And they should be recognized. And saluted.
The question this brings up for me is...if I can get up at 4:45 am for a soccer match, why can't I get up for all the other structured activities in my life? Maybe it just means that watching soccer matches should be an important part of my life.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

stand up

the song i refer to in my last post...

this is a youtube video for the song Stand Up by the Flobots
support these guys by buying their album

dear mr. president

This is a song I heard for the first time on the radio here in Saipan yesterday. I was amazed as the song went on...before it was over the radio station had cut the song off-and then seemed to go through a little bit of a scramble to get back on the air. It is powerful. I don't know if it's all true. I don't believe that we can lay all the damage in our country at any one person's feet. But I never been so frustrated in dealing with other people as I have been over the past eight-plus years of debating George W. Bush and his abilities with his supporters. And now, as people jump the sinking ship of his administration, and experts analyze and corroborate the views that many of the citizens of this country have held...the question still remains:

What the hell are we going to do about it?

If you like just listening to socially conscious music-nothing wrong with just liking some music-check out these guys...the Flobots...while their new single is good-I like some of the other songs with their more direct messages. Check out the whole album, or especially the track Stand Up. This is the video for the first single "Handlebars".

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


i am incredibly smart
some days i will not be able to converse coherently
i love listening to people talk about themselves
today i might be sick of your prattling
i have always had a reasonably healthy diet
the next month could be nothing but pizza and soda
i am trying to watch my mouth
but i might have a Tourettes moment now and then
i am embracing religious views that demand a high moral standard
i will not always be able to adhere to a high moral standard
over two years ago i decided to give up alcohol and drugs
but the rest of the world didn't
i was praised for my abilities as a massage therapist
yet to this day i am afraid to begin a practice
i can speak english
i enjoy teaching
yet i am scared to attempt to teach english
i know all final decisions rest with me and the One within
yet these words are a cry for validation and direction
i can feel the possibilities that exist
they are infinite
and so i continue to stand in their midst
with my eyes tightly shut
some days i will make a difference
and some days i will barely make it
for as long as i can remember i have expected perfection
and for as long as i can remember i have given myself
the perfect excuse.
it's about progress...not perfection.
but i won't make progress if i am not striving for perfection
because i am perfect right now
and tomorrow i will be perfect again
and i will continue to be as perfect as i can be
for the rest of my life
so i never have to chastise myself
for not being perfect

i love the internet

one minute i was reading the blog of a local Baha'i/ophthalmologist/soccer player who has a wonderful sense of humor

then i was reading THIS blog from a surgeon in South Africa

AND, best of all,Homer Simpson was involved.

Click here

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others
2: arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others
— self·ish·ly adverb
— self·ish·ness noun

now that I have read the definition I am unsure if I can write what I was thinking.

i don't know anyone who fits these definitions even half the time.

this seems to be a definition of an extreme...and i don't think reality exists in extremes.

so none of the examples i was thinking of fit--under this definition.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

neighbor dogs
who come running toward the sound of my scooter every time I pull up
barking and just making a general ruckus
that subsides once I cut the engine and say
"Hey there doggies"
in a soft yet excited tone of voice
that causes them to go from their on-guard stance
to the curling-body-with-a-wagging-tail stance that says
"please pet me!"
the scenario repeats itself when I leave
in a mirror image they act
and follow me up the driveway
barking and chasing
until they grow tired and return home
casting satisfied glances over their shoulders
with a triumphant sense of accomplishment

Gobi would do the exact same thing if he were here
so, Why DO dogs like to bark at and chase small-engine powered vehicles so much?


I am delving deeper into the science of healing and it's varying modalities. I am re-examining some self-awakening techniques that I have known about for awhile, but that I haven't practiced lately. I can see outlines and patterns of my behaviors and the ensuing discomfort that is produced, usually as a result of not following that little voice's direction.

That little voice that I have always heard. Even in some of my more depraved states, when I had muddied my mind and body with chemicals and alcohol, I would be shocked by clear statements that seemed to originate inside of me, despite my intoxication. Sometimes, I tried to shut that voice up, because I did not want to hear it. Other times I just ignored it. More often lately, I will listen to it on certain matters, but rationalize my way out of following it's directions on others.

It has been telling me that I was going to travel for years. It has told me that I have to spread the Word of God-as I understand him-and to share that with others who will listen. It has repeatedly told me to spend time alone with myself. It told me in a huge way last year that I no longer had to be afraid of God in the way that I had been for my entire life. Everything it has spoken of in the past, I can see now as beneficial to me; I could even see it at the time, but I just wasn't ready for all of it at the time.

I can admit now that I am not willing to cease certain behaviors...that I want to wallow in "whatever" a little while longer. I hope that this is just a step along the way to being able to follow my spirit's suggestions in a more timely manner.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

it rains

in sheets
a torrential downpour
drenching everything.

the wind gusts
blowing the rain sideways
through windows and doors.

clouds obscure the sun
and the entire sky becomes gray
an entire ocean and mountain
under one storm.

then the sun appears
and the rain slows
and the clouds that you could see coming
pass by and dissolve
and you are left with beauty again.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Moving On Up....

I moved today. Although I had a wonderful apartment with lots of room and great landlords and neighbors, it was a little expensive for the lifestyle I am trying to lead-namely, that of a beach bum who doesn't go to work. So, more in line with that idea, I was asked by the lovely couple whom I described in my surfing blogs, Mark & Patty, (and of course their son Kai) to house sit while they are vacationing (hah!) in the states for the next two months. They are renting a two-story house in the northern reaches of the island, about nine miles from where I was staying.

I stayed there once before, and last night I stayed again so that I could get up with them and drive them to the airport this morning. Then I packed up my apartment, which took a little longer than I had expected, and drove everything over to their house. I have begun to acquire things, as one does I suppose, and it made me feel like throwing a lot of stuff away. One of my neighbors in the apartments is getting ready to move back to the states with his family, and so they had given me all sorts of things-from pots and plates, to a printer and English tutoring materials. I was struck by the husband's character when we first met, because although he obviously had his opinions about our other neighbor, he verbally let me know that he wasn't going to share them with me, and he more or less-we're all human-stuck to that principle of not talking about others. Instantly impressed they say, first impressions...something something. He is also a very new Christian, as is his wife, who is Chinese, and so they are undergoing some drastic changes in their lives. I gave him a little Hidden Words book, which prompted him to unload even more books on to me-from religious and prophetic reading, to investigations on the slave trade in Saipan to accounts of military soldiers of the USS Indianapolis-which was sunk somewhere in the Pacific Ocean...I think. I finally stopped him, but I would guess that-counting all the tutoring material he gave me-I have about 30 new books from him.

Then I got to Mark & Patty's house, and as they showed me around and went over the care-taking requirements, Mark started giving me books that we had talked about. Three Cups of Tea, which some of you may recognize, Khalid Hosseni (wrong spelling-I hope I'm close) new book, a book and cd on a form of meditation, and some Buddhist books. Not to mention tons of Surf Journal magazines and some surfing picture books. Even cooler, they sold their TV/video games and entertainment center since I was last there! But he still has yoga DVDs and he suggested i try one on the laptop since I keep talking about getting started with it. I know it will come as it needs to.

So I'm moved in...the neighbors are the owners, they have lots of dogs-four-and pigs-one young one fenced right next to the back corner of the lot. They also have a metal roof on their house, and there are mango trees, and some coconut trees too, but mainly mango trees, that lose their fruits during the night. Apparently it's better now than it has been, since lots of them have already fallen, but when one drops in the middle of the night...well, it sounds like something heavy dropping five or ten feet and hitting a tin roof. I'm sure I'll get used to it soon, but it is startling now no matter how ready i am for it.

I'll go into it more later-but these folks are wonderful and have a great energy. I am impressed by their life, their attitudes, and their home feels warm and comfortable. I'll get a couple exterior pictures--nothing special--and a shot from the bedroom patio-it looks down over the lagoon to the west. I'll be staying there until July 28th, when they get back from the states. Ciao.