Today's column is being written the old-fashioned way, by flickering candlelight on a sheet of college-ruled notebook paper, thanks to saucy Flossie and the power outage she caused.
By the way, how does one get on the committee that gives names to natural disasters? I'd like to volunteer my services or, at least, my advice. I really feel that tropical storms and hurricanes should have names that sound menacing or sinister, in order for the general public to take them seriously. We should assign the Disney folks to the task. Wouldn't you be concerned - and therefore take the appropriate precautions - if you heard that Tropical Storm Cruella was coming? Or Hurricane Maleficent? Flossie sounds like a goodhearted saloon girl, like Miss Kitty in "Gunsmoke." Miss Flossie's comin', y'all! Git out the welcome wagon!
But I digress, which, I'm discovering, is easier to do with pen and paper than on a keyboard. I suppose it's because I've conditioned myself to see computers as work tools. Cursive writing puts me into a relaxed, rambling state of mind, sort of like a stream of consciousness exercise.
Nowadays I rarely put pen to paper, except to sign my name. I used to take a few minutes each night to scribble in my journal, but since I began "Sharing Mana'o" two and a half years ago, I've made only half a dozen entries. For the most part, the column has satisfied my desire to chronicle thoughts and feelings; it's like a semiprivate weekly diary. In fact, I sometimes feel guilty accepting a paycheck for doing something so enjoyable and therapeutic. Don't tell that to The Maui News, though. The guilt is fleeting, and I do need the money.
I also need to get back into the habit of journaling. Having kept a diary intermittently since the age of 10, I know that, for me, it's a necessary habit. Over the years, I've filled dozens of books with my rants and raves, fantasies and fears. Writing in longhand seems to release the emotional floodgates, and the words just burst onto the paper.
Perhaps it comes from being an only child with no siblings in whom to confide. Although a couple of friends have told me that my idea of preteen sisters giggling and gossiping under the sheets at bedtime is highly romanticized, and that they would have happily traded their sisters for my diary.
One of the most traumatic experiences of my tween years occurred when several male classmates got their grubby little hands on my diary. They weren't bad boys. They weren't even the kolohe type, really. But they did grab my diary and read it. I was mortified. The boy who sheepishly returned it to me had been the object of my 7th-grade dreams, described in great detail and purple ink on those pages. At the time, I found no comfort in seeing that he was just as embarrassed as I was. Now that I look back on it, it was pretty funny. And it taught me something.
I burned that diary and started a new one, choosing my words and topics carefully. But I quickly realized that self-censorship defeats the purpose of a diary, so I reverted to pouring my heart out with abandon. And I found a better place to hide my diary.
My grown-up writings are even more candid, so I've added a regular ritual to my journaling habit. Every so often, I go back and read what I've written and then tear out the pages that I wouldn't want anyone to see. That's what I learned; the value of a diary is in the writing of it, not the reading.
But I've digressed yet again. And now the lights are back on - mahalo, Maui Electric crews! - so I'm going to transcribe this chicken-scratch into an emailable version for the editors now. Then I'm going to pick up the pen again and write a few pages in my journal. If I can remember where I hid it.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.