Sharing Mana‘o

Woe is me, I got the BlackBerry blues. Even wrote a song about it:

I got the BlackBerry blues; my phone ain’t smart no more.

My iFriends say, “Just throw it away!”

But I’m BlackBerried to the core.

It may be obsolete, but it’s the phone I choose.

I got the BlackBerry blues.

It’s an iPhone world, a Samsung Galaxy;

I feel so alone

With my outdated phone,

Even Siri don’t talk to me.

But I’m loyal to my Berry; the iPhone iRefuse.

I got the BlackBerry blues.

It all started when my phone fell into the pool during an otherwise perfect staycation at the Grand Wailea. No, I take that back. It really began seven years ago with a love triangle of sorts. But I’ll get to the deep background in a minute; first, let me tell you about my week.

So, my BlackBerry Q10 drowned in the Hibiscus Pool. For someone as reliant on her phone as I am, I was amazingly calm. I was, after all, on vacation, and I had replacement insurance. The new phone would arrive in three days, on my checkout date. In the meantime, I had no need for my calendar or contact list. The folks at Sprint reactivated my previous phone, a BlackBerry Bold, and I merrily resumed my Grand getaway.

As promised, the replacement was waiting at my door when I got home last Tuesday. The next morning, I returned to the mall to activate my new phone and retire my old Bold. Knowing that the BlackBerry is passe and therefore unfamiliar to most in the cellphone industry, I expected to spend an hour, maybe two, at the store. I was wrong. Nearly four hours (and three sales associates) later, the tech guys opened up the phone and discovered that the serial numbers didn’t match. The Sprint folks were highly competent and courteous, and they helped me call the insurance company for a second replacement.

The replacement replacement also turned out to be defective. I’m awaiting the arrival of yet another phone, this one coming directly from Sprint. Meanwhile, I’ve spent the past week frantically re-creating my calendar, which can’t be transferred to my old phone because of the incompatible operating systems. There are other frustrations, all due to the tenuous state of BlackBerry.

The upside of this ordeal is that I have a bunch of new friends. My Sprint buddies – Bill, Marianne, Kate, Travis, Brandy, Eric and Wade – have been sympathetic and supportive, behaving like good friends do when one is struggling desperately to save a relationship that they can see is doomed. They were kind enough to refrain from stating the obvious: That it’s time for me to give up on the BlackBerry. Everyone else has.

My love affair with the BlackBerry began at the start of 2007, with the purchase of my first smartphone, a Pearl. It was sort of a mini-BlackBerry, without a full alpha keypad, but it had email capability, which is why my husband insisted I get it. We had several Mainland trips scheduled in the coming months, and he wanted us to have easy access to our email while on the road. I thought it was an outrageous extravagance at first, but once I got my hands on it, I was hooked.

On our second trip of the year, Barry fell critically ill and spent the last two weeks of his life in the ICU at Mesa General Hospital in Arizona. At Barry’s bedside, holding his hand in one hand and my phone in the other, I was able to keep family and friends informed through email. The tedious process of using only my left thumb and a numeric keypad to tap out lengthy, detailed reports had a calming, even comforting effect. Our extended ohana sent daily messages of love and encouragement, and I read each one aloud to him, over and over.

I’ve been a BlackBerry devotee ever since. I still have that old Pearl and all of those precious emails from seven years ago. Backed up, of course. I’ve owned a Curve, two Bolds and a Q10. Well, technically, I’ve owned three Q10s, but let’s not go there again.

My Pearl was a lifeline. It brought comfort to my dying husband and gave me strength during my deepest despair. Call me a fool, sentimental or just plain stubborn; I’m not ready to abandon the BlackBerry ship, even as I see the water rising around it.

I got the BlackBerry blues.

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Sharing Mana‘o

Recently, I was amazed to learn that tourism accounts for more than 80 percent of our county’s economic activity. According to the Maui County General Plan, the visitor industry provides 75 percent of all private sector jobs on Maui.

I don’t know what the industry employment statistics were in the 1960s, but I’d be willing to bet that it was a lot closer to 25 percent back then. When I was a child, a bus filled with tourists was a rare and welcome sight. Whenever we’d pass one on Iao Valley Road or Honoapiilani Highway, I’d wave excitedly at the passengers from my car window, and cheer when they’d wave back.

My, how times have changed. Nowadays, the gestures exchanged between local drivers and visitors’ vehicles are a bit more . . . forceful, shall we say? My late husband was pretty generous with the one-finger salute and other hand signals that aren’t found in the Hawaii driver’s manual. To be fair, he didn’t particularly dislike tourists; it’s just that they were usually the ones committing his pet peeve: failing to pull over when two or more cars are stacked up behind.

Up until a year ago, seeing tourists in traffic was pretty much the extent of my contact with them. I had never worked in the visitor industry directly, unless you count the time when my cousin and I, at the age of 6 or 7, appointed ourselves greeters at the Bailey House Museum. We made lei from the Singapore plumerias in his Wailuku yard, trekked up the hill to the historic home, which was called Hale Hoikeike at the time, and sold them to tourists for 50 cents each. For a dollar more, we’d personally guide them through the museum.

These days, I take visitors on virtual tours of ancient Hawaii as well as the major island groups of the Pacific. Aboard the NCL Pride of America, docked at Kahului Harbor, I am “the lovely Kalena,” hostess of Malu Productions’ “Aloha Polynesia.” With two shows every Sunday night, I get to interact with visitors from all over the world. During our post-performance meet-and-greet sessions and our dinner breaks between shows, I enjoy chatting with the cruise ship passengers, most of whom are visiting Hawaii for the first time.

On Friday evenings, at the Makena Beach and Golf Resort, I get even more up close and personal with our guests, doing an intimate hour of storytelling under the stars at the Puu Olai fire pit. The audience is usually composed of eight to a dozen adults, so it’s more of a cultural sharing than kiddie story time. Many of them are repeat visitors who started as snowbirds nesting at the Maui Prince. We often end up lingering for another half-hour after the session, talking story like old friends.

Last weekend, during my annual staycation at the fabulous Grand Wailea, it occurred to me that, even though I was technically not working, I was still on duty as an ambassador of aloha. Talking with a couple from Florida, I was reminded of my last visit to Disney World and a brief conversation with a resort employee, comparing notes on living and working in a visitor-driven economy. My son thought it must be pretty cool to be a working resident of the Magic Kingdom, a member of the Mickey Mouse family. The bellboy replied, “Yeah, we all work for the rat. It’s only fun for people like you, tourists. Soon as I can, I’m moving far away, someplace where there’s no tourists.”

The brief exchange left us feeling a little sorry for the guy, and sorrier for the folks who would encounter his jaded attitude. I guess resentment is an occupational hazard of the service industry, especially in high-end destination areas. But I couldn’t help thinking then, and now, that the bellboy’s attitude was misguided. I suppose I might feel differently if I spent eight hours a day, every day, lugging suitcases for folks who are having more fun – and, obviously, more money – than I.

Still, at the Grand Wailea and the Makena Resort, I see sincere warmth and hospitality in each employee, even those whose job it is to clean up the mess that others leave. I’ve seen the same friendly spirit all over our island, from Ka’anapali Beach Hotel to the Maui Seaside. Maybe it’s due to corporate training, but I like to think that it’s because most Mauians feel as I do, that it’s a privilege and a pleasure to share our home, our history, our culture, with folks from all over the world.

I just wish those folks would learn how to pull over.

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Sharing Mana‘o

Well, I love a rainy night . . .

I love to feel the rain on my face, taste the rain on my lips

In the moonlight shadow.

Puts a song in this heart of mine,

Puts a smile on my face every time.

I’m with Eddie Rabbitt; I love a rainy night. And rainy days. I love rain songs too, even the sad ones. So, naturally (you know what’s coming, don’t you?), I especially enjoy the glorious feelin’ of

Singin’ in the rain, just singin’ in the rain . . .

I’m laughing at clouds, so dark up above,

The sun’s in my heart and I’m ready for love . . .

I was probably 6 or 7 years old the first time I watched Gene Kelly frolicking with umbrella on our Philco black-and-white TV. That four-minute sequence from “Singin’ in the Rain” inspired me to embrace rainplay – stomping in puddles and dancing between raindrops. When he flings his arms open and lifts his face to the falling rain, the joy in his grin is absolute. I know that feeling.

It’s been a long time since I last played in the rain, but lately I’ve been working in it. Out of four outdoor gigs over the past week and a half, three were rained on and one was rained out. I had a ball at each one, including the canceled Kihei Fourth Friday, where I enjoyed a brief conversation with a gentleman from Canada who refused to believe me when I informed him of the rainout.

“You’re kidding me, right? How could you be rained out when there’s no rain?”

“Well, it did rain quite a bit today, and it looks like we might get more.”

“You call that rain? That wasn’t rain! Come on, where’s the street party, really?”

Let the stormy clouds chase

Everyone from the place;

Come on with the rain,

I’ve a smile on my face . . .

Just singin’ and dancin’ in the rain.

A week later, at Wailuku First Friday, I got to dance in what even my Canadian friend would call rain. It was glorious, indeed, funkin’ it up with my favorite dance band, the Maui 8-Track Players, and kickin’ up my heels with the incredible Brown Chicken Brown Cow String Band.

The next morning, I emceed the 14th annual Maui Heart Walk at Keopuolani Park amid more blessings from the clouds. Fortunately, like the night before, a good number of folks refused to let a little water dampen their spirits, and the walk was a success. That afternoon, driving to Lahaina for the 42nd annual Sacred Hearts Bazaar, another Eddie Rabbitt song persisted in my head.

. . . those windshield wipers slappin’ out a tempo,

Keepin’ perfect rhythm with the song on the radio-o

Gotta keep rollin’ . . .

It wasn’t raining at the time, but I was anticipating the possibility of another evening of rain dance. Fortunately for bazaar attendees, we never got more than a passing drizzle, although the grounds were a bit soggy from the previous night’s downpour.

This recent rainy spell not only got me singing my favorite rain songs; it also brought to mind the old phrase “raining cats and dogs.” A little online research turned up several theories on its original. The most common one is that 16th-century European homes often had thatched roofs in which domestic animals would hide. In heavy rains, they would either be washed out or would jump and run for shelter, making it appear as though they had dropped from the sky.

As of this writing, the weather forecast predicts a brief shower or two this weekend. Nothing serious, though. No cats and dogs. Darn. Oh well, maybe this will be the weekend that the Weather Girls’ prediction finally comes true.

It’s raining men, hallelujah!

It’s raining men, amen!

I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna let myself get

Absolutely soaking wet!

Just in case, I’m leaving my umbrella at home.

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose

“Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Sharing Mana‘o

People often ask me how I’m able to remember so much about old-time Maui. The truth is, I don’t. I have vivid recollections of certain childhood moments, but I’ve forgotten much more than I’ve retained. I don’t think my memory is any better or worse than average, and I’m satisfied with that. Lately, however, I’ve been intrigued by the selection process.

I have no supporting data, but my uneducated guess would be that most – say, 80 percent – of the stuff in my memory bank got there on purpose: lessons learned in school, survival tips such as looking both ways before crossing the street, vital statistics like my ATM PIN. As for the other 20 percent, it makes sense that significant events and highly emotional moments would etch themselves into my head. But what about all those seemingly useless, random bits of information that my brain has chosen to retain?

Why do I remember the phone numbers of my father’s first office (321-635) and my childhood home (72121), but not my mother’s current landline? OK, I blame speed dial for that. But what about knowing all the words to the theme from “Milton the Monster,” which wasn’t even my favorite cartoon (“Five drops of Essence of Terror, six drops of Sinister Sauce . . .”), or the horoscope signs of all four Monkees and most of my high school crushes?

You’d think that the brain, being the marvelous wonder of nature that it is, would periodically purge itself of useless trivia like that, to make room for important stuff. Like cleaning and defragging your computer. Instead, it seems to hold on to the craziest little details, and I detect no method to its madness.

I have photographic images of long-gone Maui establishments in my head; I remember exactly where to find the Barbie dolls at Toda Drugs and in the old Ben Franklin store at Kahului Shopping Center. I can picture the layouts of Kress Store, National Dollar, even Kato Dry Goods and Ikeda’s – the ones in Wailuku and Paia. I know my way around the stores I frequent today, but I often forget what I came in for. I have to keep a shopping list, even for just a couple of items.

My brain especially likes the written word, but I don’t seem to have adequate control over which words it decides to keep. I can’t recite more than the first few lines of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or the Declaration of Independence, but I remember, word for word, half a dozen MAD Magazine song parodies. And lifestyle tips from 16 Magazine that haven’t applied to me since before I turned 16.

My parents got me hooked on the morning newspaper almost as soon as I could read, starting with the comics and then the features; as a preteen, I was hooked on the syndicated columnists in The Honolulu Advertiser: Ann Landers, Herb Caen, Lou Boyd. Lou’s “Just Checking” factoids fascinated me, yet only a curious few have stayed with me. Like shower statistics: most folks start by soaping their stomachs or chests, but the recommended method is to do your left shoulder and arm, if you’re right-handed, and vice-versa if you’re not. I don’t remember whose recommendation that was, nor do I recall the logic behind it, but I’ve been showering that way since I was 10.

Some things that seemed to be crucial knowledge are apparently now obsolete. Like what to do if you find yourself in quicksand (don’t panic, don’t move your legs). When I was a child, I was concerned enough about quicksand to look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica. I thought it was an ever-present danger, because people in books and on TV were always stepping into the stuff. You never hear about quicksand anymore, so I guess it’s no longer a threat. Maybe it all dried up. In any case, I don’t think my knowledge of quicksand will ever come in handy.

Perhaps now that I’ve written about them, my brain will finally release these insignificant memory bubbles. I hope so, because I need the space. Now where did I put that shopping list?

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is