>While in the cab back to my apartment from the airport, I noticed that I unconsciously began picking my cuticles. It took less than an hour for me to be back to "real" life before my anxiety set in. What kind of new job could I get this year? Will I ever find a job that I will like again? Would I be accepted into an MFA program? When am I going to get cracking on developing a curriculum for two classes on budgeting that I am teaching in January and February and why didn't I start before I left? It didn't help that when I turned my cell phone on after debarking, I found a voicemail from a small local policy magazine waiting for me. What did I think of all the closures of publicly funded child care centers that had been announced recently? This is what I worked on over the summer as a consultant, but the last thing I want to do right now is think about it.

It seems that my "real" life stresses me the fuck out. Contrast this to my last two weeks away. None of my fingers were bloody from my anxious cuticle shredding. I barely thought about whether I would get into an MFA program or not, and while I did fret a little bit about planning a curriculum and getting a job, it wasn't nearly as intense as it is now. It's hard to stress when there are giant sea turtles swimming near me or when I'm concentrating on climbing to the top of Diamond Head Crater and soaking in the majestic views.

Husband and I spent our last day of vacation freedom in Hawaii with a snorkel trip and a visit to the 'Iolani Palace. The snorkel trip was fantastic. We climbed onto a catamaran from a sandy beach (no rocks to slip on or sea urchins to worry about, although we heard some jelly fish washed up onto a different section of the beach), then rode out for ten minutes to a section known as turtle canyon. Armed with floatation devices, we climbed down the boat ladder into warm enough water and had an amazing view of tons of schools of fish as we swam among them. ("Swim" is a very strong word in my case. It was more like dog paddled and splashed around to propel myself in a direction.) For the last 15 minutes of the hour in the water, big and bigger sea turtles swam both below us and on the surface. We emerged exhilarated.

The Palace was fascinating. We learned about the last Hawaiian monarchs work to modernize the country while preserving the unique Hawaiian culture. Unfortunately, an evil cabal of US businessmen overthrew the popularly supported rulers, and from then on, Hawaii lost its independent status. It was incredibly moving to stand in the Palace room used to imprison Queen Lili'uokalani for years. Like at Pearl Harbor, I was reminded of the fallacy of the American myth: justice and fairness only triumph sometimes.

Back at home, Husband and I watched Barak Obama win the Democratic Iowa Caucus. Maybe, like the sea turtles, fairness and justice will persevere in the sea of history. (OK, that was hokey, but I'm trying to find a way to tie everything together and wrap it up.)

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