Incredibly and beautifully descriptive writer Brian Ansorge: “The Quiet Zone” and “Blame it on the Hurricane”

 

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The Quiet Zone

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by Brian Ansorge

 

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The sign on the wall said “Quiet Zone,” and it was hard not to laugh, out loud, in the Hilo Public Library periodical section, where I was sitting with my girlfriend. The “jalousie” (slatted-style) windows were opened widely and the gentle, incoming breeze made it all too easy to hear the sound of neighborhood dogs barking—loudly. Just now.

Scolding a random cat having the nerve to walk by the premises where the dogs were fenced, or chained? I don’t know. But I was fairly comfortable in the chair across the table from my girlfriend; I wasn’t going to get up and investigate—not if I didn’t have to.

Soon, the barking subsided, and I couldn’t help noticing how loud the planes are that routinely passed over the waters edge, on Hilo Bay, as they fly into Hilo Airport during final descent. The majority of these planes are airlines carrying tourists, no doubt, but some are private, military or other commercial planes.

Again, I wasn’t too anxious to get up, look out the window and try to confirm. I had been walking around, a lot, earlier in the day, with my girlfriend and, now, she was finally content to sit, still. Or so it seemed.

Personally, I was tired of walking, I guess, and it was fairly humid, in Hilo, with the humidity being a solid “85%” or so, I guessed. So, I sat, I relaxed. And my mind drifted.

Instinctively, I look in vain towards the windows, as another loud jetliner, out of view, heads towards the airport on the eastern side of town. I chuckle to myself, audibly, and glance, again, at the “Quiet Zone” sign on the wall behind my girlfriend—the wall that I am facing. She doesn’t look up, or blink.

Even though she is a good reader, I imagine reading English probably takes more concentration for her than reading her native Mandarin. Maybe not, but she seems oblivious, for now, to all the sound—or noise—that is filling this room at the back of the building.

Some time later, with no dogs barking, no airplanes landing, and no lawnmower engines chugging, I can hear some birds chattering out on the power lines traversing the back of the library property.

The birds are actually seem quite loud, now, because it is so relatively quiet—in the Quiet Zone.

My mind drifts as I try to get interested in one or two of the three books that I had placed on the table in front of me when I first sat down. One, the “Art of Blogging” is somewhat basic, I think. But, I read it, more or less, while keeping “half an ear” on the sounds (pleasant ones, to my ears) that keep reminding me of the irony of the “Quiet Zone” sign.

The sign is either inaccurately declarative … or impotently imperative.

Or something like that. I ponder the implications, at least superficially, but don’t worry about learning anything profound or not. I’m not trying to solve problems. Not today. Not right now.

Smirking, a little, I finally start to get interested in the Blogging book as the material being covered starts to get “meatier.” I turn another page.

Quiet, or not, “I love Hilo,” I think to myself, as I hear a rooster somewhere down the street from the library—maybe. Yes, I can hear it if I concentrate, which I do, and pause, briefly, before turning another page.

And then … another.

“OK, I think we go now,” she says abruptly, while rustling newspapers. I hear the subsequent and assertive “clunk” of the split-bamboo pole that binds the newspaper edition being placed in one of the racks that lines the wall, the wall with the sign—the one that says “Quiet Zone.”

Go figure.

I love my girlfriend, but one thing she can’t do is sit still for very long. She travels, because she likes to, and can. She goes places and does things she wants to, because she can. She sleeps—only in a bed, never on a couch or on the floor— in the place or two hers that she owns, because she can.

Me?

She’s my girlfriend, and, well, I’m no “monk.” When she’s in town, I certainly do sleep in a bed, if you can imagine that—and know what I mean. It happens. No need to elaborate or explain.

And, when she’s gone—off-island?

Well, there’s a real good chance that I’ll sleep in my vehicle; after all, I’m The Homeless Guy, and I’ve got stories to tell.

Lots of them.

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Blame it on the Hurricane

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Dawn broke long before I had finally opened my eyes that first Sunday morning, after the hurricane. Though keeping with history and not actually making “landfall,” the hurricane—whose name I don’t even know—certainly managed to disrupt things.

The automatic coffee maker, for example, that I had reset last night—after the electricity service was finally restored and before I went to sleep? Somehow, I managed to confuse “AM” with “PM” and there was no hot coffee or pleasant coffee smells luring me into the land of the wakeful at the somewhat ungodly hour of 6:30—AM.

Here it was, almost 8:00, and I had already missed a glorious hour or two of beautiful sunshine, calm and quiet. No coqui frogs were to be heard—just a few birds delightfully complementing the serene environment with an appropriate musical call or two.

Purposefully, but not hurriedly, I make coffee and stop just short of opening the refrigerator door upon remembering I was out of half ‘n’ half. With my hot coffee, minus the usual half ‘n’ half, now ready, I sit down at the table with my computer on it, placing the coffee very deliberately—almost ceremoniously—beside the computer. I think of how great it is to be able to have things like electricity and running water—hot running water. I think of how great it is to sleep, at night, with a roof over my head and … my thoughts drift.

I start typing, a little, but soon I pause and attempt identifying a bird call or two, without looking outside. I hear mourning doves, and I immediately think of my grandmother, rest her soul. There were many mourning doves where she lived and where I went to spend blessed respites, as a child. There, waking in the morning, gradually and at my leisure, to the sound of their persistent cooing through the open window in the summer time was always accompanied by the smells emanating from the kitchen—far better smells than those I can normally conjure up from anything I do in the kitchen.

I pause, again, hearing a mynah bird, possibly, and then an approaching helicopter. “Yep, everything’s back to normal,” I think as I imagine tourists, thrilled and returning to Hilo from a trip to the volcano by helicopter.

They don’t fly unless the weather is good.

For the most part, the birds seemed to be totally unaffected by the recent passing of a hurricane, just like myself. When the electricity had come back on, last night, after almost two days of being off, it was past 10:00 pm, maybe closer to eleven. I had already been laying down and just about to go to sleep when I heard a “beep” and the dehumidifier make a noise like it may be coming to life.

Sure enough, after turning my head (and without even having to squint, in spite of not wearing my contact lenses or eye glasses) I could see the green LEDs blinking on both the microwave oven and the coffee pot. Amazing how bright they seemed, in the dark.

“Adjust me” … “Set me” … rinse … repeat.

“Just like the coqui frogs,” I thought to myself. They never seem to stop.

With little hesitation, I got up to flick the light switch on and off, just to confirm what I pretty much knew already; electrical service had been restored. It was good news.

Now, I didn’t have to be quite so careful conserving the battery on the RV that I was staying in. In essence, my situation actually could not have been better—with or without the passing of a hurricane.

I had propane. I had the residual charge on the deep-cycle battery sufficient to take another shower or two, flush my toilet and wash dishes for at least a few more days—if the electricity had stayed off. But now? Irrelevant. The hurricane, though close, was gone with a glorious calm and sunny day, as I think I mentioned, in its wake.

As I also mentioned, somehow I managed to mess up the settings on the coffee pot. So, now, barely three days removed from the closest call that Hawaii (the island, not the state) has ever had with a hurricane, life is pretty much back to normal.

I can’t blame the hurricane for having to make coffee manually—after waking up.

And I can’t blame the hurricane for having to “reset” the coffee maker—not at all. True Confession: I had never properly set the coffee maker in the first place. Ever since I have been staying in my new quarters, deep in the heart of the rain forest in Upper Puna, I have been plugging and unplugging the coffee maker, depending on whether or not I was actually using it at the time.

Usually, I make coffee, first thing in the morning and unplug the machine as soon as it is done brewing. That way I don’t have to see those damn LEDs blinking all day long—BLINK BLINK BLINK—telling me the machine wants attention.

So, after the electricity came back on, I guess I was a little bit excited to be living large again. In my apparent exuberance to have coffee in the morning—made automatically—I failed to make the distinction between the “PM” LED indicator being on and not being on.

My bad. I had to wake up without the cheery smells of freshly brewed coffee in my comfy little RV trailer and it’s all my fault.

And, no, I can’t blame the hurricane. I can’t blame anybody. If I allow it to ruin my day, almost before it has begun, that would surely be tragic. As I think I mentioned, at least once, it’s beautiful outside, but I’m still sitting, right now, at the table with my computer and coffee, right next to the window.

I glance, slightly to my right, out the window, to see magnificent “tree ferns” towering as tall as the top of the trailer. “Taller,” I say, out loud, and notice that one of them has another new shoot coming out.

It’s Sunday; I don’t have a calendar, but I’m almost positive.

No media. No TV. No cell phone. No internet. But, no, I’m not uncertain. Yes, it’s Sunday, and I know that today I am going to just simply enjoy this day, whether I accomplish little or much. My coffee, in the mug? Getting cold.

Go figure.

Whether I’m typing or just letting my thoughts drift a little, sometimes—like while absorbing the pleasant smells, sights and sounds of the rainforest and coffee—I lose track of time. This morning? I guess I’m doing more daydreaming then typing. When I’m not careful, large chunks of time can fly by.

And other times—like with the coffee maker not making coffee for me this morning—I just don’t pay attention. It happens; I lose track of time and I don’t pay attention. Last night, I didn’t pay attention to LED indicators on the coffee pot. It’s not the hurricane’s fault.

Just like this day seems to be so gracefully unfolding, a neighbor drives away—quite leisurely—going somewhere else to do their Sunday activities. I know that, for myself, if I end up having anything less than a wonderful day, it’s my fault.

It’s part of my personal philosophy—as a person who has led a very nomadic life the past dozen years or so. I may “settle” down, just a bit, every once in a while.

But, for the most part, whether I make coffee, myself, it is made “for me” or … I have to go without, I have gotten pretty good about not letting anything ruffle my feathers and throw darts at my balloons.

Happy Camper? Yep. I’d say that’s a pretty good way to describe me.

This place I’m living in—that became available to me just a few days after getting back to Hawaii from the mainland with no place to stay?

Indentured servant or not (being totally broke upon returning to the Big Island and having to work like a “slave” for my “rent”), at least I have a place to stay!

Next month, or the month after? Maybe I’ll be gone from here.

No, not “maybe.” I will be gone; I can feel it.

I just know it. After all, I’m the Homeless Guy, and I’ve got stories to tell.

Lots of them.

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UPDATE: After less than two months, some divisive “issues” arose between the author and his “evil” landlord; so he quickly moved out and is currently “couch surfing” in East (mostly) Hawaii.

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Also by Brian Ansorge   —

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/beach-bum-by-brian-ansorge/

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