Thursday, January 30, 2014


As I age, I have a new mantra that I chant to myself. It's "don't act old".

This week I'm staying at a hostel in Hawaii that has a wide range of guests from all over the world and fortunately for me there is no maximum age limit. Hostels suck in a lot of ways (uncomfortable bunk beds, shared bathrooms, wads of hair in showers, lots of wet food in the shared kitchen sink) but are great in a lot of other ways (cheap). Here, although mostly young 20-somethings pace the halls in tiny little bikinis and envy-worthy tans, there are a lot of people even older than me! Everybody's hanging out together and even 72-year-old Perverted Guy joins us on the daily free tours of the island.

Yesterday, on the free shuttle ride to the beach, the driver explained the itinerary, and that she would not be drinking or "partying" so we should all feel free to smoke as much weed and do as many 'shrooms as we wanted on the beach. She'd get us back to the hostel safe. My prude self was horrified to imagine that anybody on that shuttle or in my hostel would ever "do a drug", (hadn't we all just innocently made pancakes and drank coffee together?) but I remembered my mantra and kept my mouth shut. I cringed, uncomfortable for myself but mostly for the two 50-something ladies who sat next to me on the shuttle.

Finally one of them muttered:

"Does this van have enough seatbelts for everybody?"

Is there sun on my face? Because I don't want any sun on my face!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Broken Blood Vessel

Several years ago I had a gigantic zit on my face but it was totally an undergrounder, and so when I pinched and pinched and squeezed and mutilated, nothing came out. So unfair. But forever after that, I had this weird red-dot of a broken blood vessel in its place.
You can see it in the photo below, just to the left (my right) of my lower lip. No big deal. I lived with it for many years. But every so often I would bump it or accidentally or on purpose scratch it, or think that if I popped it like a zit and just "let it bleed" for a while it would bleed so much that it would dry up and go away. Ha! Silly! (It never did.)
Once, on a bus in Sri Lanka, I scratched it. I think accidentally on purpose. And it bled FOREVER. Thank goodness Summer had Kleenex and a Band-Aid.

(Who took all these photos? Chamudi and Sapna, of course! the two cutest little girls in Sri Lanka:)

The point of this story (there's a point of this story?) is that I finally got it cauterized! Problems have solutions!! I paid a guy $100 to stick a burnt match in my face and then he put a Band-Aid on there. I mean, he was a Doctor. He wasn't just a guy.




Anyway you can hardly see it anymore!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Pearl Harbor

Mark and Annie graciously took me to Pearl Harbor while in Honolulu and that meant getting up at 5am (gasp!!!) and going down to get in line at 6am to beat the hotel buses. It's a pretty good National Park, and you get to go for free and so I definitely recommend it. The video they show is downright diplomatic (Mark would later tell me that we paid big bucks to make sure that nobody could possibly be offended by the narrative), however due to the sheer volume of Japanese tourists, I thought we could have sprung for some Japaneses subtitles, jeez.
There is a lovely monument to the 1100+ naval officers who died on the USS Arizona, still submerged in the bay. It's built atop and does not touch the actual vessel, to show respect to the men who died there. You have to take a boat to see it.
You can't see it in these photos, but the water has an oily residue on the top and that's from the 1.5 million gallons of oil that was on the boat when it sank. .5 million gallons burned up immediately, another .5 million gallons burned up over the two days that the boat was on fire, and a remaining .5 million gallons is trapped below. It is seeping into the harbor at a rate of 1.5 gallons per day and has been for 70 years. They have made the decision not to remove the remaining oil because it's seeping so slowly, there is plenty of marine life on and around the sunken vessel, and they don't want to mess with the final resting place of 1100+ people. (Remember to never believe my statistics! In fact, when I first typed this, I put 150 million gallons but that didn't seem right...)
Inside the memorial is a beautiful stone-carved list of all the men who died. There are 23 sets of brothers here and one father-son. There were 335 survivors. Some survivors have opted to have their remains sent here so they can rest with their fellow crewmen. And so they have a ceremony where a diver takes their remains down to the vessel to insert them into a crack. Of the entire sad sad sad tour, it was that statement that made me cry.
While we visited Pearl Harbor, we paid another $25 to tour the USS Missouri, or the Mighty Mo':
A one-pigeon patriotic parade:
The most interesting thing about this vessel is that WWII ended on it, basically, when the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo Bay. The second-most interesting thing about this boat (in my opinion) is that it was still in use during the Iraq war in the 1990's. The third-most interesting thing about this boat (in my opinion) is that nobody ever died on it. The forth-most interesting thing (in my opinion) is that my friend Mark from high school was hired to be a Mighty Mo' tour guide two-and-a-half years ago and has yet to begin working. They told him he had the job but he had to wait until somebody quit. And nobody quits. In Hawaii, the job search is daunting and just because you get hired doesn't necessarily mean you'll be working, I guess. Get a mainlander who recently expatriated (ha) to explain it to you.
And a very not interesting thing at all is that they want all current visitors to go down the ladders backward and I can't do that so I had to disobey the rules and all the mainlander tourist grandmas who reprimanded me at each ladder "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO GO DOWN BACKWARD!" and I always follow the rules but I had to be rebellious and say "I cannot do it, ma'am," every time, because I live in a loft bedroom at my parents' house and I have to go down that one forward too, even though my dad yells at me every time.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Stress on Vacation

Toilets are pretty advanced in Japan, as I've mentioned before. They will sing to you, they will wash your butt, or your front-butt, if you prefer, and sometimes they are a video game and you win if you hit the right targets with enough force.
But sometimes they are just downright practical, like the one pictured here. In order to save water and space, I think. The sink is attached and only activates itself when you flush. Which, for the anxious Minnesotan(!) only creates the following stresses:
1) hurry!
2) is the water dirty?!
3) hurry!
4) like, is it recycled poop-water?
5) it's attached to the toilet...
6) HURRY!!
Why is life so hard sometimes?


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Motorcycle Gang

I'm in Hawaii and I'm staying with my friend Mark from high school and his adorable wife Annie. Better hosts you cannot find. Truly.
Today Annie let me use her moped to explore the island and after a pretty embarrassing gas mishap (I kept trying to fill it up with a faulty pump and in the end I realized the tank was full to begin with) I couldn't get it started. Mark was trying to get some schoolwork done and I tried asking all the idiots at the gas station (no offense or anything, I was one of the idiots after all) to no avail. I ended up having to call Mark. He came to my rescue, but in the meantime a German man came to my rescue first and he got it started. Apparently there's a "kill switch" which disables the starter and that switch was turned to ON. Whatever. There was no time to call mark with a JUST KIDDING and so he came to my rescue anyway and then got gas and then had me follow him to the beach. Just to be nice. Like I said, better hosts you will not find.
I decided we should start a motorcycle gang. At every stoplight I asked all the moped drivers if they wanted to join. They all said no. Whatever.
After just about the best day at Waikiki beach ever (lots and lots of butts to stare at - did I mention I love butts?), I got the old hog ready to ride home. I pulled up Mark and Annie's address on Google maps on my iPhone and set it in the little compartment that Mark told me not to put anything in, because if you hit a bump it could fall out. One-and-a-half blocks later, I noticed that my phone was missing. I panicked:
  1. I had no idea how to get to Mark and Annie's.
  2. I did not know their phone numbers.
  3. My phone! I mean, who cares, you can replace them, but:
    1. I have some very choice recordings on my phone that I didn't back up. Irreplaceable and so precious to me.
Here's what happened:
  • Panicked, I pulled the moped up onto the sidewalk.
  • I turned it off but did not chain it to anything (theft here is a big deal).
  • I ran down the street, hoping to find my phone before it got run over by a car.
  • I was hyperventilating about the recordings.
  • A policeman asked me to "get out of the street ma'am."
  • I retraced the entire block-and-a-half. No phone.
  • A man named Al asked me what was wrong. I was sobbing. "I lost my phone! I don't know where I live here!" He offered to call it in case somebody picked it up. I was so distraught I just nodded, knowing nobody had picked it up. I gave him my number and he called it.
  • Nobody answered.
  • Dejected, I walked back to Annie's moped, sure that that same mean cop who told me to get out of the street had given me a ticket for parking it on the sidewalk.
  • As I approached, I wondered 'maybe it just fell down more into that compartment.



***P.s. Of course I called Al back and we talked for 20 minutes about how great it was that my phone wasn't lost after all. He told me that on his third day here he lost his wallet and so he related to the panic in my face and he wanted to help me so bad...Also a young couple happened to be standing by when I found the phone and I told them, "I have to tell you a story and you're not going to want to listen but I'm telling you anyway and you have to just listen because I'm like so stupid and relieved." They listened, like champs. They were also very happy for me! The end.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pretty Girl

One of my favorite things about me is my Herpes Simplex 1. Remember me though? I'm unique! Have you even SEEN how I spell my name? Well- MY Herpes Simplex 1 is so unique that in fact that I've never gotten any on my lips or mouth, but rather, in and on my nose. I have been so lucky in recent years because most of the time I get them inside of my nose, and even though those ones are really painful (blowing my nose-ouch!), I prefer them because nobody can see them. Once in a great while though, and usually when I least want one (Maid of Honor at Kasey's wedding, vacation, etc.) I get them on the outside of my nose.
I got a real beauty last week in Japan. It has six clumps of blisters. Six! Yay!!
So nice to meet you!
Oh, yah. I forgot. Don't be scared!



I gotta tell you though. Japan was the perfect place to get one! Half the population walks around in these funny surgical masks. I thought they were for like prevention of colds and then I heard that people who have a cold don't want to spread it because they're polite or maybe they have bad allergies and THEN I heard that some people just don't want other people looking at them. Who knows? Who cares? Look at what a PERFECT Herpes Simplex 1 cover-up they make!


You can go real incognito, man.
My only complaint is that they're real hard to breathe in. I modified mine, and then another added bonus was that people could tell when I was smiling.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hal-isms, Vol. 50

"I like the movies. But they could cut the boyfriend/girlfriend stuff."

"A stabbing? Body bags? Automatic weapons? That's scary, even to me."

"I hate it when women crap their pants and then stand around and cry about it."

"When I die I'm gonna take my $34, split it up as even as I can, give it to you kids, and then whatever's left we'll put an ad in the paper. 'Hal's dead. Chevy for sale.'"

Me: "I have a question about dairy cows."  Hal: (without waiting for the question) "Four teats."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Coca-Cola Myth, As it Relates to "Certain" Poor Children in America

When you're a poor kid in America, it is assumed that all you drink is soda (from here I'll just call it 'pop', because that is what we call it in Minnesota) because it's so cheap or whatever. My seven-year-old self WISHED. Because. Not in the Hexum house circa 1980ish. 

I guess "so cheap" was still expensive for us. The other poor kids in our neighborhood got pop. We never got pop.

There was a permanent two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola in our house alright, but it was in the lazy suzan and it was for one thing and one thing only: mixer for my dad's Canadian Windsor whiskey. The same two-liter bottle of Coke would be in there for about a year, that's how much he drank and that's how much we kids knew to KEEP OUR DIRTY MITTS OFF IT.

If on the very off chance that one of the older Hexum kids was feeling generous, you might get some, once in a great while and you'd definitely have to share it and there was no way you could ever dream of ever having your own can of pop so just forget it.

There was a similar family to ours in a more southern Minnesota town and they had the same horror of a pop-free childhood. 

But one time and by some miracle, as one of them related to me, two of them got a pop to share. They were in the backseat of their family's vehicle, probably a station wagon, sharing that pop. While one would sip, the other would eagle-eyes glare at the sipper to make sure not too much sipping was happening. And then the pop was passed so that the glarer became the sipper and the sipper the glarer and so on. For an eternity they shared the pop, each sipping just a tiny bit and savoring it and then passing to the other. And then the driver of the station wagon (probably) took a sharp curve in the road and somehow the back door wasn't shut properly and out of the station wagon (probably) tumbled two children and a can of Coke. 

The narrator then told me that as her head hit the pavement her out-of-focus sideways view showed in the periphery: the station wagon (probably); the other kid, lying there, dazed; the driver, screaming, running toward her; but all she cared about, all she could focus on was the can of Coke, on its side, spilling that priceless nectar onto the ground.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Minnesota Stupid

You may recall that I became a vegetarian and promptly won a free turkey while shopping at Trader Joe's. What I didn't mention is that my childhood friend and co-worker was also shopping at the Trader Joe's. I saw her when I was checking out and told her that I "JUST WON A FREE TURKEY!" while jumping up and down of course. She pointed to her cart. She had also won a free turkey. (I didn't want to mention that right away because I wanted to seem like the only special one. Turns out I'm not special at all. But it was pretty incredible that only two people won turkeys and it was randomly she and I.)

I'm not special.

But that's not the point of this story.

The point of this story is that Tara and I are both born and bred in Minnesota, or Minnesota Nice which translates in most languages to passive aggressive or a complete inability to be honest about how we really feel and as such we both carried some anxiety about having won the free turkey. Mine was that I was unable to simply say "no, sorry, I'm a brand-new vegetarian. Please give it to someone else." 

Tara's, however, was of a different variety. You see, she had put some pre-cooked turkey breasts in her cart prior to winning the free turkey, and once she won the free turkey she no longer wanted or needed the other pre-cooked turkey breasts. She was on her way to put them back when a store employee offered to check her out. She didn't want him to know that she was putting something back because that might "hurt his feelings". She had to think quickly! She noticed from the corner of her eye a big chalk-drawn sign that said "FRESH SALSA". She told him that she needed some "FRESH SALSA" and would be right back. Then when he wasn't watching, she secretly put the pre-cooked turkey breasts back in the fridge. However, now she REALLY didn't want to "hurt his feelings" by NOT buying any "FRESH SALSA", so even though she didn't want it, she had to buy some.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hal-isms, Vol. 49

"Is that like a weakness that I have, that I want to help people?"

"You're just a blossom. And they're like branches that whip you every time the wind blows. And if they'd just leave you alone you could grow. Instead it scars you. Your petals fall off."

"I have begged. I have laid in the middle of a highway."

"You can do that. You can also step in cow poop but that doesn't make it the right thing to do."

"I was asking your mother about fiber and she said it's carrots and stuff so I ate a carrot."

Friday, January 3, 2014

Pragmatism Isn't Compatible with Vegetarianism, I've Found.

I met a vegan late last year and he got me thinking about how gross eating meat is. So I decided, (knowing full well that I would fail within the first day because I have tried this before) to become a vegetarian. I had to wait until January 1st though because it seemed totally normal to make it a resolution and also because I spent the last twelve days of December at my parents’ place and that house is pretty much the “house of meat”. There are dead animals hanging everywhere and also the freezer is just full.

Here is the story of my first two days as a vegetarian:

I woke up on January 1st at my parents' and my mom made breakfast and I ate it. And then I remembered I was a vegetarian. Crap! (Venison.)

And then it was time to go home, but my car wouldn't start, because it was -25 degrees for four days straight. So I called the neighbor and he brought a flame-throwing heater machine and we pointed it at my engine, threw a tarp over the car to create a heat tent, and 45 minutes later my car finally started. But I was FREEZING from being outside for 45 minutes in the -25 below weather and I came inside and my mom had made soup! And I ate it! Oh man! (Ham.)

Then I started driving home and about four hours into my drive I bought some dill pickle chips and that didn’t satiate my hunger so I went to Wendy’s. Dang! (Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger.)

I decided to try again on January 2nd.

I had a banana and a granola bar for breakfast. No meat. Win!

I had a mac and cheese and asparagus thingee for lunch. No meat. Win!

I went to Trader Joe’s after work and shopped like a vegetarian. I made my way around the entire store without buying any meat products whatsoever. And then I remembered that I probably should get some cucumbers for making salads and so I went to the vegetable section. I couldn't find any. So I put my hand on my forehead, exasperated. I was trying to think of a new plan. A Trader Joe’s employee came up to me and said,

“You look confused.”

“I can’t find the cucumbers.”

“We’re out. But maybe I can replace them.”


“Congratulations! You’ve just won a free $40 turkey!”

I give up.

Sorry, Bud.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Inside Family Jokes You Probably Won't Find Very Funny

Pete: "Everything I see is a mathematical equation. I see numbers everywhere I look."

Kady: "Me too! I see numbers...on the microwave."

Pete: "I look at a clock...and all I see are numbers."

Why It's Funny:

I recently had my IQ measured.

I hate to break this to you. I really do.

It pains me to tell you. Just pains me.

It's really hard for me to say this. Really.

I'm a genius. It's official. And I've decided to join Mensa. Why not? Mainly it's so that I can get that membership card and accidentally give it to anyone who asks for my ID for the rest of my life. 

And trust me, my family is Nonplussed. Incredulous. Unimpressed. I don't regret telling them, but try hanging out with the other seven Hexum family members after you find out that you're extra smart. Play the wrong card in Whist. Run over a curb with your car. Mispronounce something. You get the idea. My new nickname is "Mensa", as in "Hey Mensa! You forgot to flush!" (just kidding, I never forget to flush.)

Don't worry. My dad will keep my head small. He likes to remind me that I "don't know cake from cowpie." When I told him the results of my IQ test, he laughed out loud and said, "lotta good it didja."

"It's like, well...I just know alotta stuff."


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