Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Dear Benedict,

I’m going to cut right to the chase here: You’re not supposed to be reading this letter.

In fact, it really shouldn’t have been written at all. If everything had gone as planned, you and everyone else who stops by the kasbah would be reading a P.P.L. (previously published letter) today. A rerun, if you will. Instead, I’m sending you this trivial, unimportant missive that shouldn’t even exist.

Yet, here it is.

I know, what an exquisite paradox.

And also a bit confusing, I’m sure.

Don’t worry, friend. Grab yourself a nice cuppa and I’ll explain.

You see, I’m supposed to be lounging on a beach in Hawaii right now. Well, maybe not at this precise moment depending on the time you read this way over there in London. With a whopping eleven hour time difference between the Hawaiian islands and your island, it very well could be the middle of the night in Hawaii. In which case I wouldn’t be on the beach. I’d probably be sleeping and dreaming about the things I normally dream about, except my dreams would be in Hawaiian and all island-ish and exotic.

photo credit: Kanaka Menehune via photopin cc

photo credit: Kanaka Menehune via photopin cc

So, for argument’s sake, let’s say that at some point on Saturday Hawaiian time I should have been sitting on a beach, basking in the glorious sun, reading a book or building a sand castle or thinking about the many ways I could embarrass myself if I were to take up surfing. You know, beachy stuff.

But instead of doing any of that, I am still here on the mainland.*

So, why am I not on my Hawaiian holiday?**

Long story short: A friend of mine who recently moved from Chicago to Hawaii invited me to come stay with her and since I’ve never been and have always wanted to go, I decided to take her up on this fantastic idea. A week before I was to leave, she received a call that her father’s ailing health took an unfortunate turn for the worse and she needed to fly to Chicago to take care of him. And because she’s still needed there, she wasn’t going to make it back to Hawaii in time for our adventurous holiday.

So, two days before I was to leave I had to cancel my tickets.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly glad she decided to stay with her father. Honestly. I totally encouraged her to remain in Chicago for as long as needed, even if that meant rescheduling my trip. It’s far more important for her to be with her family right now than hiking a volcano with me.

photo credit: NDomer73 via photopin cc

Don’t think you’re off the hook, Kilauea. You and me, we’ve got a date. Apologies for being a little late. photo credit: NDomer73 via photopin cc

Rescheduling a trip to Hawaii is, of course, a frivolous bit of nothingness, especially in light of my friend’s worries and all the recent tragedies. And really, who cares that I had to cancel a trip to a tropical island, right? I can roll with it. I’ll get there. Eventually. There are much more important things to consider. This doesn’t even register on the radar of relevance it’s so insignificant. I really shouldn’t even be mentioning it.

But obviously I am and, as ashamed as I am to admit this, I’m a bit disappointed I’m not in Hawaii right now.

I tried to ignore it, this ill-tempered disappointment. I really did. Told myself it wasn’t worthy of my time or energy, that it was incredibly self-centered to feel that way. But disappointment can be evil and persistent, eventually scratching and clawing its way out, as is the very nature of things you attempt to throw in a burlap bag, put in a cage, lock in a trunk weighed down with rocks, and then toss in a river.

In my very weak defense, even though I’ve been fortunate to travel to many places in the U.S. and have somehow managed to make it to Africa and Europe, I have yet to travel to Hawaii. Did I mention how long I’ve wanted to go to there? At last count I believe it was up to forever and a few months, plus or minus a day or two.

And I was so close to making it happen, friend. So f@*&ing close.

I could practically smell the fragrant flowers, taste the sweet, juicy pineapple, feel the warm sun on my pale skin.

photo credit: laszlo-photo via photopin cc

photo credit: laszlo-photo via photopin cc

But I’m not telling you this tale of thwarted adventures for any condolences you may try to offer. Don’t need ’em, don’t want ’em. Instead, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been doing to reframe this trivial little setback.

(Reframing, in case you didn’t know, is an ancient custom practiced by therapists through the ages, one often used to skew a situation view a situation from another vantage point. Like when you tell yourself it really is better to be under a gray, drizzly sky because your rain jacket nicely compliments the blue-green color of your eyes much better than your new red bikini and besides, who really needs to be sitting in a hammock on the beach sipping a mojito while watching the sun set? Lazy beach bums, that’s who.)

My Fake Holiday (reframe #1) – a Foliday, if you will – started with the decision to not go to work for a few of the days I was already planning to take off. With my mind already on holiday, I was kind of useless there anyway. With all of this unexpected free time awarded to me, I planned to do a crap ton of writing and to finish outlining my new novel (reframe #2).

photo credit: fiddle oak via photopin cc

I don’t need no stinkin’ beach. photo credit: fiddle oak via photopin cc

Postponing the trip also gave me time to work on my lounging skillz (reframe #3). Luckily for me, the first day of my Foliday was a sunny and warm(ish) one. So instead of spending the afternoon writing, I decided to wriggle into my new bikini and lounge in my backyard reading a book. Sure, the wind felt a little brisk at times and the reflection off my pale skin probably blinded the birds and squirrels for a few weeks. Whatever. Don’t judge. I was on Foliday. It felt really good to sit and read and feel the sun on my skin and just be. I really need to do that more often.

Looks like you’re on Foliday, too. Well done, friend.  Too bad you haven’t found the writing cave yet. We could’ve taken our Folidays together.

I’ve also decided to use this extra time to practice not drowning (reframe #4). My friend and I plan to go snorkeling, swim with the turtles, and do other water-related things and from what I understand drowning goes against the very spirit of going on holiday. I’ve got the basic swimming techniques down, it’s the staying buoyant application of it all that seems to elude me when I’m in the water. Though now that I think about it, sinking like a lead weight might come in handy when snorkeling because it’ll allow me to stay under water longer and see more fish and things (reframe #4.875).

photo credit: jurvetson via photopin cc

Let’s not freak each other out while we’re swimming in the same ocean. Deal? photo credit: jurvetson via photopin cc

Wow. A reframe within a reframe. A double reframe of sorts. I sure didn’t see that coming. Bonus points for me. And bonus points for you for letting me discover it on my own. You’re always so classy and generous that way.

Folidays are way more exciting and fun than I ever imagined.

You know what will be even more exciting and fun than a Foliday?

Seeing Star Trek 2: Into Darkness.

In 3D.

In the IMAX theatre.

May 17th can’t come soon enough, friend.


I fear I’ll be swallowed whole by the intensity and classy badassery on such a big screen.

I might need another Foliday to recuperate.

Excitedly yours,


*I’ve learned a few Hawaiian phrases in preparation for my adventure. Obviously.

** I’ve also learnt some British terminology as part of my British-American I Say Tomato, You Say Tomahto International Cooperation Exchange Program(me). You’ll be pleased to know you’ve been hired as the British liaison to the program(me). Your t-shirt and buttons are in the mail. I mean post – they’re in the post. You’re welcome.


*Editor’s note: The views, ideas, and opinions expressed in the Letters from Benedict series are works of fiction and did not come from the actor himself. Obviously. This series is just my ridiculous way of expressing adoration for Mr. Cumberbatch and his work and is not intended to be taken at face value or seen as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.


14 thoughts on “Dear Benedict: On Paradoxical Letters, Reframing, and Folidays

  1. I believe Therapy For Dummies has a chapter called “You Can’t Help Your Feelings”. It’s right before the lesson reframing. As much fun as your Foliday sounds (and it DOES sound fun!), I don’t think anyone would blame you for being disappointed that your Hawaiian vacation was delayed, and I hope you get to experience all the hot, cocktail-y, sunset-y fun very soon! And I hope that 5/17 hurries on up, because that movie looks AWESOME!

    • “You Can’t Help Your Feelings” sounds like a track off of Josie and the Wordslingers latest album. She’ll be bummed she didn’t think of it first.

      I’ll get to Hawaii someday. I figure if I got this close, I’ll eventually make it there. In the meantime, I have a movie to look forward to. In 3D IMAX. Because really, is there any other way to see it?

  2. Noooooo! You’re not in Hawaii! I can totally imagine how gutted you must feel, despite all the perfectly understandable reasons for the delay. There’s a mindset one gets in before a holiday, and I’m sure you had one foot on the beach already…

    Good on you, though, for devising some fun things to do instead. Hope you enjoy your foliday and make sure you reschedule the real one!

    • Thanks, Ellen. You’re so right – I totally and completely had one foot on the beach days before I was to board the plane. As soon as my friend returns to Hawaii, we’ll definitely reschedule.

      The rest of my Foliday went well. I’m thankful there were some lovely, sunny days to help brighten my mood.

  3. Aloha, and mahalo for another wonderful missive to Benedict. I’m might be more disappointed by your not being in Hawaii than you are, but I KNOW you will make it there one day SOON. Congrats for putting on the red bikini and taking a few days off! You are definitely in a Hawaiian state of mind 😉

    • Aloha and thanks, Elizabeth! I know I’ll make it there, too. Someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

      Until then, I’m going to bask in the gift of the unseasonably warm weather here. 🙂

  4. Well, that IS disappointing – way to make Lemonade out of Lemons and all that. Don’t think I’ve ever heard of a Foliday. I think it’s a lovely word. I think I will try one, just for fun. However, it snowed here again this morning so NO backyard bikini stuff for me. I shovelled my walk and the neighbour on either side. (I was being what we call a Snow Angel.) But I could try a lawn chair in the backyard, while wearing a heavy winter coat.

    Your time will come, Tami. Hawaii watch out!

    • How nice of you to be your neighbor’s Snow Angel. Well done, you. Yes, if it is a sunny day, perhaps you should take a Foliday-ish moment, bundle up, and sit in your back yard. I was yet again amazed at how long it took me to turn off the blasted voice in my head telling me I wasn’t being “productive” while lounging in the sun. But once I did, it was lovely.

  5. Firstly, this is one of the greatest truisms of all time, so I’m copying it into the wisdom journal I don’t actually have, but really should, just so I can collect genius observations like this all in one place:

    “But disappointment can be evil and persistent, eventually scratching and clawing its way out, as is the very nature of things you attempt to throw in a burlap bag, put in a cage, lock in a trunk weighed down with rocks, and then toss in a river.”

    Secondly, how very mean is it of me to be feel so greatly entertained by this non-Hawaiian post? Certainly not because of your sadly postponed Holiday, but rather, the exquisite details of your Foliday! Impressive and more that just a wee bit riotous 😀

    • You flatter me, Barbara. Thank you! I love your idea of a wisdom journal. I need to get me one of those, too.

      And you’re not being mean in the slightest – I’m glad you enjoyed my snarky take on how I let go of my disappointment. I recommend a Foliday to anyone needing one when faced with plans that go awry. They’re even better if you happen to have a tasty beverage in hand while doing so. 🙂

  6. Sorry to hear you had to postpone your trip and I hope you get to reschedule it soon. Sounds like you’ve been able to put your time to good use. Reframing is definitely a good way to go 🙂

    • Thanks, Mike. Reframing is certainly more productive and fun than brooding about something over which I had no control. I’m very much looking forward to getting to Hawaii. Someday. 🙂

  7. I, too, have been looking forward to the new Star Trek movie. It looks awesome! Sorry about Hawaii, though.
    Ya’ know, I heard the weather was going to suck that week anyway 😉

    • Yeah, the weather was probably not all that great in Hawaii last week. At least that’s what I’m telling myself as I sit looking out the window at the gray, drizzly day here. And then there’s only 2 1/2 more weeks until Star Trek. Things are lookin’ up already. 🙂

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