Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Goodbye, 2002

Thank you, God, for giving me 2002. It was a year unlike any other.
At the end of 2001, I was changed through loss and pain.
At the end of 2002, I was changed through love and freedom.
Thank you for bringing me a new and wonderful love, for giving me new friends and for giving me the freedom to feel, love, learn and smile.
At the end of 2002, the world seems smaller.
At the end of 2002, I have learned to love others more deeply.
At the end of 2002, I know I have miles to go, still.

Posted by ruth at December 31, 2002 03:31 PM

Happy New Year Ruth!
Thank you for sharing your insight & passion.
Posted by: kane on December 31, 2002 03:42 PM

Monday, December 30, 2002

Bachi Tales

Bachi, loosely defined as "what goes around, comes around," is a mysterious force. Do any of you have "bachi tales" to share? The more and more I hear about bachi, the more I get drawn into it. It seems to be a truth that exists in all cultures, with just some variation between each? Does the phenomenon happen in today's world? Is it coincidence? I'm curious, which is why I'm asking for stories or opinions.

I have several stories that may fall into the category of "bachi tale."

They were sobering stories, told by my mother from the back seat of my car as I drove over the Pali to see Kahaluu's Christmas lights. "Be very careful. People who hurt innocent people get bachi, you know." I was drawn by my mon's hushed voice as she recalled stories of long ago from her native island home of Okinawa.

The first was a village story passed through generations in my mom's family. In the late 1800s, the hired servant of a rich Okinawan family was accused of stealing money. So the family tied him up and beat him, taunting him and demanding that he confess. Fearing his death, he confessed. When they loosened the rope, he declared his innocence, explaining that he confessed only because he thought he would die. So they tied him up again, then beat him, then he confessed. And this cycled through several times. After being horribly beaten, the man was about to die. He was sent home and relayed to others what had happened. The man was known among the village to be of reputable character, and they found it unjust that the family would inflict such cruelty on him. Before the man's last breath, he placed a curse on the family, saying that "this family will be ruined and will not see another generation pass." It wasn't long before all the family members, young and old, died off, leaving no heirs to the family fortune.

In another story, my mom talked about what happened to her own mother, my grandmother. During the war, my mother's father was killed, and her family lost their riches. My grandmother was left to care for four young children. A young man who lived nearby one day began taunting my grandmother, saying, "See? You have nothing now! You're no good! You're poor just like everybody else! How are you going to take care of four children by yourself!? Ha?! ... Ha?!" This young man would do this repeatedly, almost to the point of my grandmother's madness. But my mom said that grandma had enough willpower to endure his taunting behavior. She knew she had to keep a straight mind, if she were to raise four children. One day, the young man drank an alcoholic beverage and had a pain in stomach, then died.

And, there's my sister's story. When my sister worked in the food service department at a Honolulu hospital during her college years, she had a cruel supervisor named Dolly. Dolly made jokes about my sister's handwriting and intelligence. Dolly cracked the whip so her department would maintain "efficiency" and "productivity." Dolly constantly berated my sister and made feel incompetent, dumb and slow. "Hurry up," she'd tell my sister, "we don't pay overtime, you know." Every time my sister worked there, she'd put in two extra hours without pay so she could complete her work. During her five months there, my sister was as skinny as a pole, having worked tirelessly for hours with little breaks in between. It was only about a year ago, long after my sister stopped working there that my sister learned about Dolly's unfair expectations and unethical business practices. My sister learned that the hospital now employs two staff members who perform the same tasks my sister was expected to accomplish by herself. My sister also learned that only a couple years before Dolly was to retire, Dolly was fired. "She was job hunting the way I had been job hunting."

I know this world is mixed up and that, indeed, bad things happen to good people. Still, I can't deny this force - there has to be something to this. Ultimately, unkindness will cost you something.

Posted by ruth at December 30, 2002 05:38 PM

Ruth, what a wonderful post. These stories are so fasinating, and they only strengthen my belief that bachi exists. I have been trying to recall a bachi story to share, but all I can remember right now are those stories of my own bachi. Not happy stories. But as unpleasent as bachi can be, it can also teach us important lessons as well. Some people just have to learn the hard way, and there was a time when I was such a person.
Wishing you Good Fortune in the coming year!
Posted by: kane on December 31, 2002 02:31 AM

Thursday, December 26, 2002


As Don talked about the dead at Vietnam,
I saw white skin over rib cages
And limp torsos bending.
I wanted to nudge them all awake,
Like how I nudge my brother
When he sleeps
After a good TV football game.

Posted by ruth at December 26, 2002 07:13 PM

Monday, November 18, 2002


As we go through the process of acquiring resources, we can see the worst of who we are.
I hold my Styrofoam cup of coffee and feel a pang at the pit of my stomach as I realize I'm caught in this animal kingdom.

Posted by ruth at November 18, 2002 01:25 PM

Acquring resources?
I had just read a story on your company's former owner, I think, and a "transition" to new leadership. You're in my thoughts.
Things are downright wacky where I work also, with a new boss and an entirely new staff that he brought with him. I'm not sure what the future holds either. My Styrofoam cup's getting a good squeeze too.
Posted by: Ryan on November 24, 2002 03:33 PM
Thanks for the prayers.
I do not refer to my company but I can see where it can be perceived that way based on my very abstract, (intentionally) vague statements.
I've been working off-site for a few months. An eye-opening experience, which brought about this most recent entry.
Suddenly, I find that I am lucky that my place of employment is relatively healthy. Morale is higher than most places given the current economic condition, and people at least attempt to have an attitude of teamwork and support. It's not always perfect, but, hell, after what I've seen, I can't ever complain again.
At one point, I'll have to write out all my ideas about this somewhere. I have lots of questions.
Thanks for checking in, Ryan. Sorry I haven't been keeping up w/ all that's being posted on HawaiiStories.com. I haven't on-line very consistently.
Take care,

Posted by: ruth on November 24, 2002 06:14 PM

Ruth, Happy Thanksgiving!
Posted by: kane on November 28, 2002 08:28 AM
Ruth, hoping you are well.
I do miss your writings & shared thoughts.
Posted by: kane on December 7, 2002 03:55 AM
Merry Christmas.
Posted by: kane on December 25, 2002 01:32 PM

Mele Kalikimaka, Ruth.
Posted by: Ryan on December 26, 2002 10:55 AM

Monday, November 4, 2002

Lost in Sent Email

I went through old "sent items" e-mails in the year 2001, trying to find a link I had embededded in an e-mail (a UH Manoa Web site that was rather obscure -- it's the page that contains classifieds for faculty). I felt like I was wading through sludge.

Last year, I was changing quickly, and awkwardly so. I was naive about how ungracious others could be. I spilled myself open to the wrong people. Innocent, sincere words. Idealistic, giddy. And the receivers found themselves in near disgust when it was all said and done. It was a tough year, not for any outwardly visible reasons, but for the storms I braved within. And seeing my e-mails again made my stomach turn. I couldn't help but be sickened by naivete.

And for awhile, I didn't want to have such "honest moments." People often prefer less emotion, less vulnerability. They want "clever." They want "intelligent." They want "sophisticated and elegant." They want to see the outside, really, since the inside is jiggly and gushy. The outside makes no threats and is lovely to look at. The inside is unwieldy and always bypasses the eyes as it sends an uncomfortable electric shock to the gut. People don't like that. Reminds them of themselves.

So, I've picked up a skill these days for outside things. These days, I'm "selectively naive."

Now, if I can only find that Web link ...

Posted by ruth at November 04, 2002 08:43 AM

Monday, October 21, 2002


I wish I could pull you out from the fluorescent light
Away from the hum of industrial voltage that surrounds you.
I wish I could remove you from the pushpins on grey walls
And from the silly words you bicker over
And from your need to say only right things
And from days you must wear your shirt that way.
Let's order chocolate milk
And drink every last drop from a straw.

Posted by ruth at October 21, 2002 10:49 PM

I'm so happy to see that you have returned. You were missed.
Posted by: kane on October 22, 2002 01:43 AM
Striking. And yeah, we missed you!
Posted by: Ryan on October 23, 2002 12:52 AM

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Twin Turns

Naomi and I are twins. A year ago, I had a good friend spurn me. This year, it's Naomi's turn to be spurned. I'm angry, since I see Naomi's pain daily. I remember what it was like. But I look at the person Naomi will become because of this pain. I have become a new person, and so will she.

Posted by ruth at October 02, 2002 09:57 PM

It's amazing what strengthens us and stimulates the process of growth. Some of the same things we see as impossible to overcome, are oftentimes looked upon later as our greatest gifts.
Posted by: kane on October 5, 2002 08:09 AM
You haven't written a post in a while; I hope all is well.
Posted by: kane on October 12, 2002 03:34 PM

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

But Seriously

When I became an adult, I suddenly learned that I'm not supposed to take anything too seriously.
I'd rather be a kid.

Posted by ruth at October 01, 2002 12:47 PM

didn't anyone ever tell you that you don't have to be an adult?
Posted by: tyd on October 14, 2002 08:12 PM

Monday, September 23, 2002

When Eating Kim Chee

When eating kim chee,
Make sure you know what you're getting into.
If not, you might be surprised
By unwanted trips to mundane places
And you can't control yourself
Because it controls you.
Red flecks are exciting for a moment
The way they swirl and swirl
In your mouth and through your chest
But you do end up paying.
So, when eating kim chee,
Make sure you know what you're getting into.

Posted by ruth at September 23, 2002 06:51 PM

Ruth, this is a wonderfully fun poem. Perhaps this should be written on each jar of Kim Chee like a surgeon general warning.
Posted by: kane on September 24, 2002 1:52 AM
I'm glad you got humor out of this poem. Interestingly enough, I wrote it when I was really pissed off. If you read it again with that in mind, you might sense my deep resentment.
But, as is always the case with life, even the things that upset you can draw up the greatest laughs. Anyone who reads this poem will react as you did, with laughter, and this is a nice, sobering thought.
Thanks for laughing with me.
Posted by: Ruth on September 24, 2002 12:58 PM
I was just browsing your site when I saw the comment section. I remember the first time I ate Kim Chee!! It was 1966 in a tower in Qui Nhon, Vietnam, guarding our runway when it hit me. I'm sure I don't have to tell you what I mean by that. I did have to warn that poor soldier who had to climb that latter and relieve me of my post later that night though. I was stationed with the Korean Tiger Division. They use to get Kim Chee in 50 gallon plastic bags. We always knew (smell) when they would get a fresh batch in. I make the best Kim Chee in the world because I was taught how to make it by the Korean Soldiers themselves!! I've been making it and perfecting it for almost 40 years now. I wished you could taste some. It's absolutely breathtaking.
Posted by: W.K. Sullivan on November 6, 2003 5:35 AM
Sorry, I've spelled Ladder wrong in my comments.
Posted by: W.K. Sullivan on November 6, 2003 5:39 AM

Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Man Upstairs

The man upstairs is dying.

Just several weeks ago, his doctor told him he has between two and six months to live. It wasn't very long ago when I'd see him watering the yard.

Mr. M is a retired hapa haole man who looks straight out of a Reyn's commercial. He's managed to raise a beautiful family and be with his wife all these years.

But the weeds in the yard are growing. And this morning, instead of seeing him standing in the yard with his khaki walk shorts and aloha shirt, I see another man who rode to our house in a Toyota truck with oversized wheels. He's got a cap on and a dirty T-shirt, workboots and a towel around his face. A professional.

Sometimes at night, Mr. M's coughs are so loud and strong, the sound seeps below to our apartment. Mrs. M has taken leave to be with Mr. M, and I can only imagine her getting up to give him water or get him a towel or feed him or bathe him or change his clothes.

And still, everyone else's life goes on as usual. I still put my makeup on in the morning the same way. I listen my new Rich Crandall Jazz Trio CD. I still worry about the documents I need to write at work. I choose which dress shoes to wear from a white plastic shoe rack.

All this, while the man upstairs is dying.

Posted by ruth at September 19, 2002 08:01

It's too bad that you can't get a piano upstairs so that the man could listen to you play. Your music has a way of reaching the soul. If you have a recording of your music, a gift of your songs would surely soothe and calm him.
Posted by: kane on September 20, 2002 05:42 PM
Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and kind words. Sometimes I refrain from playing since music can open up deep, deep wounds. I think I'll begin to sense when the time is right to share or simply keep my distance.
I'll keep you posted.
Posted by: Ruth on September 20, 2002 06:19 PM

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Sound of Timelessness

My eyelids fall
Fluorescent lights expose dormant workstations
The air conditioner makes music with my keyboard
A lonely duet

When you're alone, you suddenly know the sound of timelessness. That sound has a way of wiping clean any emotion. You feel neither apprehension nor anticipation. You simply exist, and you imagine your lungs expanding and collapsing. And the air through your nostrils become like waves on the sand, entering, retreating.

There is too much to think about now. And I don't know what to make of it. So, I'll make nothing of it. And just breathe.

Posted by ruth at September 04, 2002 08:14 PM

I love this entry; so very poetic with such a calming effect. "The sound of timelessness"...I adore this line.
Posted by: kane on September 7, 2002 08:08 AM

Tuesday, September 3, 2002

To Cause a Friend's Tears

I called her on Saturday afternoon. And by the time the conversation started to wind down, she was in tears.

I felt her pain travel the phone line from Dallas to here, but I couldn't do a thing about it. I disappointed her immensely, and the first love I once knew, which she loved with an overwhelming heartfelt passion, was drained from me. I finally had to tell her that her passions weren't mine anymore.

Her life is dedicated to saving the lost. Her husband is studying at a seminary. And I, I departed from wanting the same. I could've glossed over many things, but chose to be open about where I am.

God, it sure is lonely to be here sometimes. But I can't be anywhere else right now.

Walking Discoveries

Again, I took the challenge of walking to work, this time from Puck's Alley to Ala Moana. Lots of new observations:

  • The elegantly titled "Makiki Ditch" appears etched in concrete on the bridge column
  • Waving American flag waves brighter after someone took the fine time to cut between each stripe
  • Flatter shoes makes a woman feel like she can kick yer butt

Posted by ruth at September 03, 2002 03:44 PM

Friday, August 30, 2002

Rotten Egg

The manager at Gascogne sent an empathetic response to my e-mail and apologized, saying she "felt sad reading your note because I have a very nice staff, unfortunately there is always the proverbial rotten egg in the basket!"

She then explained that she was grateful that I had sent her the e-mail and that to call her ahead of time if I ever decide to return. So I replied.

"Thank you for your reply. After writing the e-mail, I went back to the City Search New York Web site (http://newyork.citysearch.com) to see if others had similar experiences. Then I was reminded why I had chosen your restaurant in the first place - the comments regarding superior service were nearly unanimous. You have explained and I now realize that misfortune may have paired that particular waiter with us and that he may have been the exception, not the rule.

"I have no immediate plans to return to New York, but when I do, I'm willing to give Gascogne another try.

"Thanks again for your thoughtful response."

Walk in the City

My car stalled yesterday, so this morning, my sister dropped me off on Kapiolani, and I walked about a mile to work. It's interesting the things you miss when you drive on a street. Walking puts sidewalk life in the center of your world for the moments you pass by.

I always wondered what it was like to live in those cinderblock apartments along Kapiolani. This morning, I saw people sitting out on their lanai, guys shirtless, peering at the sidewalk life, unharried. I walked farther and heard rock music from behind white curtains. I saw entrances that were supposed to have iron gates, removed somehow, and neglected. I saw how dusty some walkup stairs were and just how dark and just how blue they were. Then the litter. Tons of smashed paper cups and Pepsi cans and straws embedded in patches of grass along the sidewalk. Made me question what motivates a person to actually toss trash in such visible places.

Posted by ruth at August 30, 2002 10:16 AM

Becoming to You

How did
I become
So ordinary
So soon?

I wrote that early in February of this year. Today, I went through off-line journal entries and was struck by my thoughts and transformations along the way.

People are fickle. One moment, I could be the mysterious Queen of the Desert, the next, I become, oh, the girl next door. It can be cause for great disturbance and grave depression. Or, a source of amusement.

Naomi told me a couple nights ago that people have to see each other through God's eyes. If not, we will always fall prey to someone's perception of "boring." You know, she's right. She always is.
I am thankful for the fickle nature of people, lest I wouldn't have learned such great lessons and embraced such great loves.


Based on what I learned in the last year, I have managed to establish some philsophies. Here's a working list, which I will keep updating from time to time:

  • Everyone's story matters. Mine does, too.
  • No one is boring.
  • No form of communication should be undermined - This includes media such as e-mail, instant messaging, phone, person-to-person. Also includes methods, like speaking, writing, dancing, non-verbal cues, omissions, implications.
  • I should seek to be a student of everyone I meet. I should seek to be a teacher of everyone I meet.
  • I will require that others be only themselves.
  • Everyone has an infinite inner space, and searching this vast space will never leave me discontent in this life.
  • Never call any place "unexciting."
  • Never call anyone "unexciting."
  • We all have something to offer now. We don't have to wait around till we become a little more accomplished, since that day may never quite come. Sing, write, play - do it now.
  • A person is beautiful for who she is as she becomes, not for who she will become.
  • There is something inside of me that refuses to just throw myself at a man. Not anymore. I don't deserve that.

Posted by ruth at August 30, 2002 05:40 PM

wonderful insight and lessons.
Posted by: kane on September 4, 2002 06:18 PM

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Not Recommended

On my New York trip, I surprised my boyfriend with a dinner at a French Restaurant on 8th and 20th called Gascogne.

And a surprise it was. Bad customer service came at such a high premium. It's been awhile since the event occured, but I didn't want to let them to never know how bad they were. So I e-mailed them this note ...


Unfortunately, the service I received from your waiter the night of Aug. 3
was substandard. He was impatient and terse. At one point, he was hitting
his pad with his pencil waiting for my boyfriend to make a decision. Zero
warmth, no personal touch, machine-like, unattentive. I tipped shy of 10
percent but sometimes think that was much too generous (I often tip between
20 to 30 percent for good service). That was my first night ever in New
York, so naturally all the stereotypes got confirmed (luckily, subsequent
city experiences overturned that). Prior to getting there, I went out of
my way to find a nice restaurant, searching various Web sites for ideas.
After all, it was my boyfriend's birthday.

I have no real motivation for sending this e-mail other than to let you
know about my experience and how your poor service made two customers feel.
Hopefully this e-mail will provide some insight on how customer service can
be improved for future customers.

Posted by ruth at August 28, 2002 06:20 PM

Monday, August 26, 2002

The Call

We were best of friends in college. But things have changed. I've departed in so many ways.

A year ago, she wrote a 6-page, single-space letter sharing her concerns about my life, how the choices I've made were poor ones. I knew her heart, and I knew her loving intent. But I was proud for becoming who I am still becoming. And she would only feel pity.

I don't blame her, really. And yet, I still couldn't respond.

So this afternoon, I return to my desk to find a beautiful voicemail. A broken voice from a friend who still loves me deeply. "You've been heavy on my heart," she said, and that "I'm praying for you. I love you no matter what."

I know that. I really do. But I just can't stomach the kind of love that is infused with pity and restlessness and concern and mournfulness for something lost. I appreciate it, yet I do not wish to be so near to it anymore. I love who I am today, and she won't understand that.

So, I am frozen. I don't want to respond. It would be too difficult to hear her disappointment travel thousands of miles through a telephone line.

I may be the only person who really reads this blog. But if there is someone - anyone - who understands what I'm going through, say you do.

Posted by ruth at August 26, 2002 06:23 PM

I think we've all, to varying degrees, made decisions that others felt were wrong. And to those others, it's hard to reconcile the conviction of their beliefs with what should also be their unmitigated desire for you, a friend, to be happy.
I have been told, more than once, by people who I have no doubt care for me that they're essentially "mourning" for me, for being lost, for being misguided, for ultimately going to hell. There is indeed an element of pity, sometimes tinged with condescention. But in many cases, as I suspect in yours, the concern, the fear for you is genuine, heartfelt, and thus heartbreaking. And that's hard to brush off.
How many times, in the same situation, would other so-called friends who disagree with our choices and our path simply use that divergence as an excuse to give up, to leave our side, to become again strangers, or even adversaries? That, to me, is oftentimes the weaker path, though perhaps harder on us...
It's a different kind of friend who won't stop loving even despite disappointment and doubt. More enduring, like that of a parent, perhaps, who may hate everything his or her child does but still weep - however misguided the perception and how happy the child might actually be.
In my own case, some of the friends who thought I was lost came around, and rejoiced in my own joy. The others gave up and stopped calling.
It may be depressing, and probably fruitless, to reestablish contact, to open up, to again attempt to convey that the love is mutual but that the disappointment is unfounded - that the choices that so concerns her are exactly the ones that are bringing you to where you want to be, to happiness and fulfillment, and that she on that basis should be happy for you. But I'd do it anyway.
She's trying to reach out, so there's at least a small chance of a renewed and better connection. As long as your resolve and satisfaction with your path, I wouldn't fret over being brought too far down.
Posted by: Ryan on August 28, 2002 10:51 AM
Wow Ryan,
What insight. I have the resolve to speak with her again, after over a year of silence. But I'm cringing at the thought. I like what you said about stating how happy I am, despite how fruitless it may be. Your comparison to her love being like that of a parent is right on. I feel like it'll always be that way.
I just need to breathe deep from time to time.
Thanks for your thoughts, Ryan
Posted by: ruth on August 28, 2002 03:02 PM

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Doing What Comes Naturally

Young blonde girls bumped into me in the restroom and asked if I had a CD. "If so," one of them said, "I'd like to buy it."

After I sang while accopanying myself on the song "Wandering" this past week, other students randomly stopped me in the streets or on the way to the next class to say how much they liked my performance and why. I was floored. One instructor spoke to me separately after class to tell me that I "have it."

I feel as if I'll be keeping in touch with the college staff via e-mail and taking on-line courses. What a week of awakening.

These past four days, more than any period in my life, have shown me that music and words come naturally to me and that my musical skill belongs out there more - in a much bigger than what I'm doing now. Music (and soon lyric writing) seems to fit with my soul. I'm rough around the edges, but the natural skill is there. I came all the way to Boston to find out that I have the right to play.

Posted by ruth at August 17, 2002 07:54 PM

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Making it There

I have more to say about New York than I have time for in this one sitting. But, here are a few words: Excessive. Sensual. Amusing. Get-to-the-point.

Much more angst than Boston, and I was hoping the preconceived notions I had would not be true.

People are sort of terse, and gentility would seem only to belabor communication.

For example, the bagel store clerk told me to "focus" as he watched me in near disgust as I stared at the board trying to decide what "schmere" to put on my bagel. Other customers snap to it and order quickly, so my attempt to actually appreciate their offerings was a source of irritation for him. In general, customer service there offered fewer smiles and demanded that we simply know exactly what we want, and say it - and say it now.

I'm not complaining, since it seems cultural to get to the point, sans the warm small talk and occasional smile. Then again, I was there for four days and could simply have encountered an uncommonly number of angst-filled sales people.

I loved the city, still. Scene after scene. Color. Language. Individuality. The feeling of having to "make it." This is so unique.

Ground Zero

We peeked out of the subway station and saw unsightly fences surrounding a naked part of the skyline.
The sun was scorching at 5:30 in the afternoon, and the heat seemed to drench the mementos left on the cast-iron fence of St. Paul's church. They were objects of rememberance left behind by those who lost loved ones in the tragedy. The fence left no space for anyone to see into the yard of the church. Pictures preserved in plastic, T-shirts with letters from family, caps, rain-beaten Teddy bears, flags.

Suddenly, I embraced all uses of the American symbols - the flag, the eagle, the hues of red, white and blue. Suddenly, my cynicism about bangwagon patriotism ceased. People lost something here, and to grab onto the flag was OK. In my sadness, I will embrace a Teddy bear. And others, in a tragegy like this, will embrace symbols. That's what we do.

I walked away changed.

Back at Home

I wish I knew how to face my return. I don't know how.

Posted by ruth at August 06, 2002 10:33 PM

I love New York. I only visited once, when I was 13, but it left quite an impression on me. I don't think my heart could take living there, but the fact that there are millions who can take it, who happily (or, well, somewhat happily) do call the Big Apple home makes me proud of our country.
Your encounter at the bagel shop makes me remember the infamous "Soup Nazi," immortalized in an episode of "Seinfeld."
Posted by: Ryan on August 8, 2002 03:43 PM
I still can't conceive the charming drug den that was Alphabet City is now gentrified, and all those porn theaters on 42nd Street? Gone, from what I hear. 10 years after I spent 9 months there, and I still miss it. Did you eat at Benny's Burrito?
Posted by: NemesisVex on August 13, 2002 07:29 PM
You know - 42nd Street was definitely cast for the broadway theater gang. To see it now, who would've known of its former charm? I think I'll have to save Benny's Burrito for next time. Cheers!
Posted by: ruth on August 13, 2002 08:06 PM

Monday, July 22, 2002

I'm In!

It's a done deal. I'm in this summer's songwriting workshop at Berklee!

After weeks of waiting around to see if they were accepting my application, I finally got a call from a staff member there who said, "You're in."

It's not like they're really picky about who takes these summer workshops or anything (you just have to be over 15 and have had one year of formal training on your principal instrument), but still, I'm thrilled to be a part of this program. Look forward to it big time.

I've already written a few songs already this summer and see how they fare among all the other aspiring (be it young) songwriters out there.

Posted by ruth at July 22, 2002 11:26 AM

Yowza! Congratulations, Ruth! If they're good enough for .EDU, that's impressive enough for me! When does it start? How immersive is the program — do you get to both learn and live with fellow budding artists?
Posted by: Ryan on July 30, 2002 03:38 PM
I'd say the program is pretty preliminary and basic. I will hang out with a bunch of young uns but not dorm. The program starts Aug. 14.
Posted by: ruth on August 6, 2002 10:35 PM
Hey, I'm a singer songwriter from Atlanta and I found this site when i was looking for Rockwell Church lyrics. I actually applied to Berklee for next fall and I find out tuesday. Anyway, I just wanted to say congratulations, and if I could ask you some questions about the business, that would be cool. My IM is First Circle 777 if it's okay. Thanks, and good luck!
~Brian R.
Posted by: Brian on January 29, 2006 03:36 PM

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Crossing Sacred Lines

I did a Google.com on the words "conservative parents" and was surprised that nothing gave me new insight. All I can ever find on the Internet are rants about people calling conversative parents "stupid" and "mindless" and "evil." That's not very constructive.

Google usually is my best friend when it comes to providing page upon page of insights into the most obscure questions I have. And I always have tons.

But this time there was nothing.

So I called Kavita for her insights, but she wasn't around, so I left her a message.

What do you do when the choices you make cross very sacred lines in the minds of the people who gave their entire lives for you?

I remember an angry phone call from my dad one night while I was at Brew Moon. He said, "I hear you're at a drinking place. I'm disappointed. I didn't raise you that way. I hear noise in the background. I don't know what they're doing." He said I was "carousing" and brought up a bunch of other disappointments, such as my choice months ago to explore other churches with liberal or middle-of-the-road theology. And to top it all off, I heard my mother wailing, most likely in tears, in the background.

It was tough to explain what was happening since no answer would quite cut it.

By most people's accounts, I'm very, very conservative in the way I approach living. I don't sleep around. I've never smoked a joint or done illegal drugs. I've never gotten drunk. I'm not carrying out an affair. I pay my taxes. I don't money launder.

But that's simply not enough to please parents who deep in their souls want to honor God and want their children to honor God, too. Any deviation from the teachings of my youth are considered to them a slap in their face, a dishonor to them, and most profoundly, a dishonor to God.

So these days, I live with a great degree of discretion. If I do something that I know would disappoint my parents, I simply never mention it. But sometimes, I feel a little sad - and even dishonest. All of this ducking and discretion makes my stomach curl.

About a year and a half ago, I tried my best to discuss my differences with my family, but it always turned into an emotional mess, and they always ended up feeling sorry for my waywardness. I hated feeling like a disappointment in their eyes. It's demoralizing. It really is, and I know they don't mean it to be that way.

After awhile, I sort of learned that I cannot convince them to understand where I'm coming from. All my explanations and deepness of breath were fruitless, thus a waste of energy. So I just sort of listened and didn't talk much when it came to issues of contention. However, my nonverbal cues and lack of participation sort of communicated my ideas nonetheless.

To be truthful, I don't blame my family for their actions one bit, since they are doing what they wholeheartedly believe. I cannot fault people for the sincerity with which they carry a belief. And, I know they deeply love me and want to rescue me. I know they love me and have the best intentions for me. Though I don't agree with them many times, I still want them to be happy believing whatever they believe. I want them to own their thoughts and be proud of them. In some ways, that's counterproductive to my personal comfort, yet I know how precious one's belief is, and I want to offer my respect the best I know how.

So, there is this battle that I carry around in my mind all the time. Today, my mom asked me "how was church?" The answer came easy, since I went to a fairly conservative church they would've loved if they attended. She seemed happy (or at least satisfied) and suggested that I go to Sunday School and network with other people my age.

But I won't be able to answer the same question the same way for the next few Sundays. I won't even be in church, or near a church. I can't get into great detail here, but the real plans would truly disappoint my family. They call me every week or almost every day to check up on me while I'm here in Boston. I appreciate their caring but sometimes resent how it encroaches on me, since I want freedom and the ability to happily choose where I am and the company I keep.

This situation makes me a little sad, since part of my journey to Boston was a personal search to feel liberation. I'm on the other side of the country, yet the stifled feeling still exists. And I know much of it has to do with how I've been managing the situation. Physical distance is not the cure-all. It's a personal choice to live how you want to live without apologizing.

I want it all, somehow. I want to keep a bridge to my family, feel a certain amount of intimacy and closeness. Yet, I want to keep being who I am. And, at the moment who I am saddens them.

I've decided that feeding them changes slowly makes the most sense. I've already fed them some of the more "dealable" differences. Their adjustment to those were very difficult for them and me. But things seem calm now, for the most part. And I do know that some things are simply better left unsaid, if they're minor enough. But there are some things I simply cannot hide, over the long haul anyway, and I'm certain those things will break their hearts.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002


God, why am I so porous? Why when feelings come my way, they don't just breeze in, but gush through the many holes inside of me?

With fewer distractions and responsibilities here in Boston, I realize this part of me oh too well.

Perhaps this is a feature of being alone. Sometimes I see beggars in Harvard and Porter squares wearing strange clothes, and they watch me with lots of intensity in their eyes. Their faces are oily and they hold Au Bon Pain paper cups and rattle them for change. They sit sometimes dazed, sometimes longingly. Intelligent people, I can tell. Just such need. And parts of me tell them telepathically that "I'm not very different from you, you know."

The difference between me and them is just a few more abandonments. That's all. Abandonment is when someone or a group of people decided your lack of value to them. Whatever funny or interesting thing you could offer up suddenly rings hollow and irrelevant.

Sometimes I scream silently that "I refuse to be taken for granted!" But people are fickle, and I'm no different. We all live a fragile existence.

I make little accomplishments here and there. I sang last night and had a bunch of random superficial conversations after the show. Talked to a few musicians then bantered with the Greek sales clerks in the late-night coffee shop nearby. "Are you a 24-hour coffee shop?" I asked, to which one guy said, "For you, I can keep the store open 24 hours." They were amused to guess that I am Japanese.

At a deeper level, the triumphs I gush over are reserved for the mouthpiece of my handsfree Voicestream cellphone. And AIM. Yet, this long-distance amusement can never replace a pair of eyes and the ability to see someone breathe, someone you love and care about.

I checked Berklee's site, and the songwriting workshop is now fully enrolled. I applied a good month ago, and the bill is supposed to arrive in the mail sometime this week. Not certain what will happen, or if they even took me into the program. But if I'm in, it's something I look forward to.

Posted by ruth at July 17, 2002 09:22 PM

Sunday, July 14, 2002


Whatever is entrusted to you for any portion in life, care for it with great abandon. Only then will you have no regrets.

I say that to myself every once in awhile, knowing that life and the gifts therein are vapor.

Today, Joel and Nancy drove me all the way to the southern part of Massachussetts to hear an afternoon concert by a musician friend, Paul. The art hall in Marion is a hidden secret, and from what Paul told us, the residents there want to keep it that way. It's country living. Big yards, narrow roads, modest homes. And trees or fields to decorate every part of your view.

Life there seems detached from the world. Slower, calmer. The world is simply accepted. No fighting with it. Just a look out over the lake and a day in the yard will satify today. And tomorrow, too.

Most of the people at the concert were senior citizens dressed in beyond their Sunday best. The orchestra included accomplished musicians from around the country. The program included:

  • Mozart, Divertimento No. 2 in D. Mozart wrote this when he was a mere teenager.
  • Handel, Suite from The Water Music
  • Borodin, Nocturne
  • Bizet, Symphony in C Major

I don't know what it is about orchestral music. Every time I go into a concert hall and the lights dim and the strings resonate through space, I suddenly shed many layers of consciousness. I'm not certain if it's the types of vibrations the music makes or the actual content of the music itself, but I always feel so raw in the middle of a concert. All rational thinking sheds from my existence and gives way to what's left - pure feelings. It is then that I feel great happiness, then great sadness, then great anger, and the range in between. They are feelings I've accumulated through the years, hidden somewhere.

I am naked in the dark. I am wildly sensitive to who I really am.

The concert ends and hall lights hit my skin once more, followed by lobby chatter and parking lot motors.

Posted by ruth at July 14, 2002 05:36 PM

Saturday, July 13, 2002

The Chamber

I remember perhaps four years ago, I said an unusual prayer. I asked God to lock me in a wooden chamber, somewhere beneath a castle and to give me a lamp, some paper and a pen.

I wanted to become a slave to song. And from that room would come glorious music.

What drama. I don't know where I get these crazy ideas that have nothing to do with reality.

But I can make do with what I have. I realize I have one more week of silence before my time in Boston gets truly busy.

This Malden apartment building is certainly no castle, but it is on the bottom floor - garden level. And I am alone, as if in a chamber. So, this week, I may be in the place I need to be. I really do have to cram. I have to hold back on the fun and get some work done.

Off to doing (1) work stuff and (2) writing.

The Composer

Today was the first time in years that I actually sat down at the piano and drew notes - circles and stems - onto paper. I went to Harvard Square and walked over to the New School of Music and played the old Steinway piano for a good 3 and a half hours. But it was as if time flew by in seconds. I was so involved in finishing this work.

It wasn't an original, but an exercise for piano lessons to reharmonize a song called "Just Friends." It's rather simple and short, but the work is painstaking. When I was finished, I actually stopped in my tracks and realized that I just got through doing something that takes discipline, yet I really enjoyed. I wish I could do this more often. I think I'm on to something here. My brain was completely fried when I was through, and I realized that I don't do enough "brain-frying" in my music. I think this will become a requirement from here on out.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Latin Groove

Last night I went to Glauster (more than an hour north) to hear my piano teacher's Latin band. He, another band member and I caught a commuter train, and it was quite a beautiful ride. Glauster is a fishing town that is quintessential New England. Very quaint and a crisp breeze. Modest homes with pointed roofs line the road that winds down to the harbor.

When you get to the harbor, there are many small funky galleries painted in pink or yellow with potted plants hanging from the ceilings and racks that sport artists' wares. Then there are several restaurants that are jutting out from the harbor to make you feel like you're right on the water. It was a most beautiful restaurant, and I ordered a lobster bisque (as opposed to "soup").

I had to admit that when I got there, I told myself, "What the hell am I doing?" Here I was with Martin (pronounced MarTEEN) and his all-male Latino band (check them out at http://www.grupofantasia.com). It was more testosterone than I was used to, and I barely know Martin. And what's worse is I didn't know what they were saying half the time since they were speaking Spanish to each other.

But I got into the groove. Martin's group packed the place out, and people were in such a party mood, easily taking the floor for some salsa dancing. I didn't dance for the first set of songs. But during the break, with CD music piping through the speakers, Martin pulled me onto the dance floor, and we did the simplest of dances, the meringue. So I was loosened up, and suddenly, another young man asked me to dance (I say "young" since he couldn't have been older than 20). It was fun. But the second set was over and I had all the dancing I needed for the night. So I retreated to the back of the bar area to watch and listen. It was a great experience. The guitarist, Julio, drove us back to Boston. They were driving in circles trying to find Malden (coming from the north). I told them they could use my map, but of course they wanted to figure it out themselves. I finally arrived home safely. Martin and the gang seem to be good-natured, well-rooted guys with strong family values and lots of loyalty. It somehow struck me that way. I'm leaning toward not going next week, partly because there is too much disparity between my lack of desire to dance and everyone else's desire to do just the opposite. This disparity made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. And I don't like to be in the position of making the host see or feel my discomfort, which was probably what happened last night.

I look at myself and realize this is not the same person who was so sheepish back in 1996 in Atlanta. I would've never ventured alone this way and hang out with people I barely knew. I'm glad things change.

Hot 'n' Spicy

Today I craved Panang curry, the kind I always order at Phuket Thai in the McCully Shopping Center. I found Thai Basil on Newbury Street, which is the most upscale part of the city. It was 4 p.m., and of course I was the only person in the lavishly furnished restaurant. The waiter doubted my request for "spicy," so I had to repeatedly say I wanted "spicy." When the food came, it was spicy enough, but he also brought more garishes to make it spicier, if I so chose to. I did. Overall, it was a wonderful dining experience, and I would go there again, even if they didn't have the requisite sticky rice.

Voices 'Round Midnight in Malden

OK. So it's midnight. And outside my window right now is this strange lady whose voice resembles that of a proverbial witch. I don't know what she's saying to someone else. Sounds like she's rummaging through something and frustrated about something and complaining and somewhat frantic about something. I'm scared since as I type this, it's just a wall and eight feet that separate us. What makes this even a bit eerier is that this is a garden-level apartment, meaning the bottom half is sunken below street-level, and my windows sill is the same level as the street.

But I sense she's gone now.

Malden, Massachussetts. The encounters here are a mixed bag, sometimes a nice surprise, but other times just an annoyance. Like earlier on the train, a guy was hitting on me before I had to set things straight that I had a boyfriend. And several times on the street, guys were trying to call my attention with, "Hey, excuse me!" or "Can I talk to you?"

Malden is a working-class town in a diverse city. I see lots of raggedy T-shirts and jeans here and men who don't shave quite as often as their office-working counterparts.

When I wait at the subway stations or sit inside trains, I hear many languages that are not English. Certainly Hawaii is quite a diverse city, but here, there are many more first-generation immigrants. And Malden seems to be the settling place for such people searching for opportunity.

So far, people have asked me if I could ever live in Boston, and based on my experience so far, I would have to say "Yes." For as little contact as I've already had with people here, I've enjoyed the city immensely. I can't imagine how much more I'd enjoy it if I were actually more plugged in via a job or school environment.

The plan is to return to Hawaii, though. I have lots to look forward to at home.

Posted by ruth at July 12, 2002 08:58 PM

Saturday, July 6, 2002

Introspection at Club Passim

I sat at Club Passim tonight among an intimate and non-alcoholic crowd of about 125 people who came to hear Rockwell Church.

What I heard tonight is why I came to Boston.

Chris, Nur and another couple and their daughter joined us. Michelle left a message and said she had to go back to Connecticut on an emergency.

The place was packed, and Rockwell Church was just so moving. I was reminded why I like this duo more than I do most folk artists. They're understated, intelligent and willing to be completely vulnerable in front of so many people. Yet, they don't take themselves too seriously. No whining, but so much introspection. To top it off, their voices are unintrusive and pleasant and their virtuosity on the guitar mesmerizing.

I remembered exactly how I felt after hearing each song tonight. They all made me look inward. The song, "Everyday," for example, speaks of regret over a love he lost. He blames himself and calls to her, saying, "I know you forget me every day." The song ended, and I immediately understood what it was like to reach for something you lost by your own doing.

Then there was "Dream," from the first album, Inches from the Ground. The song is fast-paced with an acoustic groove in minor key, told through the mind of a struggling working class man who is speaking to his wife about his "civil strife." They have trouble making ends meet, so no money for fancy magazines or buying diamonds, but he tells his wife, "you find them in my dream - of a better place, better life, while coping with my civil strife, it cuts you like a knife, fix the dryer and the squeaky door, kinda makes you wonder - wonder what you're working for, babe I don't wanna run no more from you." This song made me feel angst and insecurity, but then it let me rest in certain strains as I was taken away to a pleasant - though temporary - place, which was his daydreams. It made me understand the truth of what hope is. When all circumstances fail you, one at least has her dreams.

I have to read their lyrics again, to be inspired again. Lots of folk musicians don't "do it" for me, but Rockwell Church grabs a hold of you like no other.

I ended up meeting Joti, who sang with Will in his days at Haverford. Joti said Will's arrangement of "Something About You" was the most complex of the tunes they did. I liked how casual both Joti and Nathan seemed.

Scribbled Roads

I then caught a ride back home, with Chris behind the wheel of his Subaru, Nur in the passenger seat, Zachary, Sharon, their daugher and me in the backseat. And we were trying to read a Boston city map to get us home. What a scene. Chris was so gracious in wanting to take us home, and like a true gentleman, he walked me to the door. I didn't ask for this, but with the scare that I went through earlier, this was simply nice.

Someone may have just as well scribbled in the streets of Boston. There are so many little side streets and cut-offs and tricky turns. "A map is so necessary in Boston," I told Chris. Not quite the case in Hawaii. Not nearly the case in Hawaii.

Monday, July 1, 2002

Adventures Await in Boston

I'm alone in Boston now, and that's the bigger adventure.

Last week was tons of fun with Kavita, her cousin Anjali and a bunch of new friends. They were great guides to this city. Thanks to their help, I'm feeling quite comfortable with the transportation system here and have explored downtown, the Berklee College of Music and parts of Harvard and Harvard Square.

I stopped by a community music school to look into getting jazz piano and voice lessons while I'm here. So far, I've been doing tons and tons of walking already and feel as if I'm losing weight, which was necessary at the time of my Hawaii departure.

To accommodate for this walking, I bought these two pairs of shoes from the Walking Co. that seem a bit granola, but I cannot tell you how they have saved my feet. In the balance of how walking shoes could look, though, they were probably the most stylish of the lot. It's sort of funny, but one travel guide described Bostonians as "not very fashion-conscious" and that if you see someone dressed in all black, that person is either from New York or Europe. I see this is true. People here dress like an LL Bean catalog, and the look gets quite Bohemian and haphazard when you hit Harvard Square. It's as if people are competing to look haphazard. I was trying to shop for summer dresses and found so many of them rather shapeless.

I had one safety scare, and if my parents found out, they'd beg my return. I went jogging in broad daylight, and this guy followed me in his car into a restaurant parking lot and later to an auto mechanic shop, where I was hiding from him. He eventually gave up, but I was shaken, so I called Kavita then her friend, who's a cop in town. I notice that I don't look like everyone else, which is why I get a lot of "where you from?" or stupid things like "Ni hau ma! You Chinese?" Not certain about how who reads my journal, but whoever's out there, I'd really love if you said a prayer for me for my safety.

My impression of Boston's people is that they are not the cold-hearted type they are stereotypically known for. I think that given the need to protect oneself from crime or being "had" by people out to make a buck, Boston people tend to have a cold outer shell that belies the same core we have in Hawaii. I've experienced good customer service here, and to a certain degree, it's even better than Hawaii's. There is definitely no Aloha spirit, but people are almost relieved when I show a bit of kindness and vulnerability. It's almost a breath of fresh air, and definitely not something that is trampled upon or left unappreciated.

Sunday Spirituality

I struggled to wake up and get ready for the 11 a.m. service at the Old South Church. I ended up leaving the house at about 10:50 a.m. The subway stop leads right to the church, so I ended up getting seated in the sanctuary at 11:25 a.m. The interior of the building is a dark, rich wood. I wish I knew what kind of wood, but it was sturdy and beautiful - the walls, the pews, the rail for the choir, the pulpit. The pipes for the organ line the walls near the stage.

I sat in the last row and was immediately smothered by a kind of warmth that felt like someone had put a sweater on me despite tropic-like heat. I looked among the mostly blond-headed congregation in front of me and saw a flurry of programs waving.

When I arrived, the minister had already started reading her sermon. She seemed a bit younger and most likely educated at a prestigious divinity school. The topic related to the whole "under God" issue, which is being discussed on the Hawaiistories.com site. Using very scholarly language and tone, she presented her message as if it were a valedictory address or a political essay.

Her whole point was that "under God" we should be inclusive and protect liberty for all people and shun injustice. She pointed to a passage in Galatians saying that in Christ "there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."

The Old South Church is a United Church of Christ congregation, which is known for its liberal stances on political issues. I looked forward to attending this service, but was a little disappointed over the repressed emotional state of the service. Felt somber and over-intellectualized. Hardly something anyone could put their body and soul into. I will say, however, that the music was excellent, and if you put yourself in a little cove, you could experience a certain getaway of your own kind.

Three weeks

Kavita and Anjali are now gone for the summer. So the upcoming weeks will be lonely for me. I have no "adult" responsibilities and no requirement to be in an office at specific times. But the true - and more difficult - responsibility I have is the commitment I make to myself: Learn music, hear music, do music, grow, tap my creativity. Norman tells me this is my one opportunity to obey my creativity, since when I'm in a professional work environment, I cannot just go to the keyboard and band out a song.
I'm calling the piano teacher soon, and I hope it turns out to be a good thing for me.

Posted by ruth at July 01, 2002 07:30 AM

I was just wondering how you were doing! "People here dress like an LL Bean catalog." Wonderful, just wonderful. Safety scare or no, you remain in our prayers! Good luck nurturing your creative spirit, and with your music. I have faith that you'll grow and excel!
Posted by: Ryan on July 1, 2002 02:46 PM
Hi Ryan,
Thank you! That means a lot. This vacation so far has been the break I've been looking for.
Take care,
Posted by: ruth on July 1, 2002 05:21 PM

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Hanging On, Wringing Out

One more day of writing about this software package, then I leave for Boston.

I'm trying my very best, but my insides are feeling raw. I wish I knew of a better way to conduct myself as I do my work. My heart wants to do well for this company. It's just that I can't, not these days anyway. They don't deserve this.

I feel like a towel that's been wrung and wrung into a tight twist, sitting on the sink, in view of a scorching sun.

Moisture, like my creativity, is gone. The towel is bone dry. And if someone were to wring and wring, the result would be no different.

Words! Where are the words? It's just that the sun took them away somehow, and there is nothing in near view to immerse me again.

So I ask the Universe this: Throw me into another bucket of water, somewhere. It is with utter frightfulness that I ask this, but my option to keep things just so makes me crumple anyway.

Posted by ruth at June 19, 2002 08:56 PM

Monday, June 17, 2002

Choosing Sadness

"To forget a friend is sad."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I remember feeling as if I died in Janice's world. The pain was unspeakable, and I cried and cried. I used to wake up in tears then turn to bed in tears.

But today Reid walked by and asked me if Janice still does admissions for the same senior healthcare facility.

"I haven't spoken with her on friendly terms in a long time," I told him. And the as-a-matter-of-fact tone carried in my throat surprised me. 

That very moment, I felt as if she was someone I knew from another lifetime. It was a complete separation, and I accepted our rift the same way I have accepted that some of my first grade friends I may never see again. No animosity, no sadness, just acceptance.

Suddenly, the coldness I thought could never befall her toward me has somehow befallen me toward her. If I could listen to how I felt at the moment, I would say my insides sounded like slow footsteps in an empty room.

During our college campus days, one distinct phrase Janice often said was, "Apathy is worse than hate."

And now I breathe deep then exhale long as I consider the height from which I have fallen. I was cold this morning as I spoke with Reid.

But as I type this, just right now, I am once again sad. I do not like sad, but for the moment, I choose it over apathy. I do not want to be someone I cannot recognize, at least not that someone inside my chest whom I felt and listened to this morning.

Janice, if you're out there, hang in there. I am deathly afraid to be your friend again but perhaps tonight I should say a prayer for you.

Posted by ruth at June 17, 2002 08:10 PM

Tuesday, June 4, 2002


I've always been transparent. Heart on my sleeve. My disbelief below my bottom lid.

People see me, so I should not find myself bewildered that the company vice president sees that I am stifled.

"Is it obvious?"

She nods, staring deep without even a blink.

She's always liked me and says I can work here the rest of my life. It's just that I know she sees the whole of me, and that there is a Ruth inside waiting to come through.

Does anyone know what it's like to just jump? To leave something perfectly good and perfectly comfortable for something unknown? Who would gamble this way?

Ryan helped me set this journal up and probably got the tagline from a poem that recently got published on proseax.com. Little did he realize the internal struggle that I'm going through.

How many people get to be who they really are?

This summer, I take a big risk, and I'll be in Boston for two whole months. I can't imagine what'll happen there. There are so many questions, and I'm not going to venture to picture what could become of my life and my direction.

Too many people have told me that I need to jump.

But I'm too scared to jump.

Posted by ruth at 07:41 PM

Saturday, June 1, 2002

Like a Virgin


Say the word and a generation of us will understand the power of just one human life.

Today while working out a 24-Hour Fitness Kapiolani, I watched VH-1's "Video Collection: Madonna."

I don't feel like rehashing her many great accomplishments as VH-1 does it well enough.

But I ponder on the difference between people who think versus those who do. Some people just do. And, I think, how can they do that?

Perhaps some people know their calling and just fly.

I, on the other hand, seem to be an ambivalent sort.

I've always thought it would be the most fascinating thing to be a biographer, since people from all walks of life intrigue me.

But then I wonder if I have a story of my own to make first.

Friday, May 31, 2002

Beautiful Soul

Why certainly one can be
A beautiful soul
If in her days
She is not required
To kill game
Or slash throats

Survival Pact

Carrie in her sleek business suit looks out the window of our 18th floor offices this afternoon.

"It's such a beautiful day," she says. "It's sad that people in the world are killing each other."

On a Friday like this, we wander away from software-speak and into the thought of surviving after a nuclear holocaust. I suddenly realize that people like my twin sister, Naomi, who is very strong at heart though unable to get a full-time job, would fare well.

"She has good instincts," I say, pondering on her fierceness. Naomi used to be a home health aid, and once when she was assigned to care for a rich, lonely woman named Mrs. Pace.

Mrs. Pace lives near Colony Surf Hotel and Michel's Restaurant. She was the president of a travel agency and had a reputation for being ruthless with her employees.

So on the day my sister arrived at Mrs. Pace's condo, Mrs. Pace yells, "Where the hell were you?" to which my sister begins to explain that her company told her to arrive at 8 a.m., which was an hour later than the time Mrs. Pace had expected. But Mrs. Pace cuts into her explanation and sees a muffin in Naomi's hand, "Put that away! I don't want any of my girls eating when they are with me!" So Naomi obliges and continues to endure a string of condescending remarks from this woman.

Mrs. Pace instructs Naomi to get her car so they can go shopping. When Naomi arrives with her car, Mrs. Pace settles in the passenger seat then again yells, "Where the hell were you?"

Now Naomi is indignant. And her quiet demeanor is transformed into a tsunami, with her voice showering the place with great force.

"You know Mrs. Pace? Get out of my car, get back in your house and find somebody else to do this for you! I don't appreciate how you treat me, and I don't need your money!"

Mrs. Pace gets out of the car then sneers, "You act like you have a brain in your head."

"You know," Naomi replies, "you'd be a lot happier if you started treating people like human beings."

"Oh, shut up!"

"Oh, you shut up!"

Naomi reported Mrs. Pace to her employer. "If you allow your employees to be treated this way," she says, "the morale of your company is going to go down." Mrs. Pace was dropped as a client.

Naomi doesn't have a whole lot of skills that fit a traditional workplace. There are gems here and there that can't seem to patch together and make her desirable enough for any one company to give her a salary, health insurance and a 401K plan. But, come a nuclear holocaust, I do want her around.

Carrie tells me that in a holocaust situation, people who know how to make a turbine will have the most power in the new social structure. We sort of joked about a "Survivor Pact," where we'd have a plan of who would be in the group and where to meet if our world suddenly turned upside down.

Then I began to think about my value in such a setting. Interestingly enough, I don't think my role would be very different than what it is now.

Posted by ruth at May 31, 2002 06:24 PM

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Hello, World!

Not certain what anyone could tell me to make the butterflies in my stomach stop.

What do you do when your chosen livelihood requires you to beautifully render for others what you suddenly don't believe in yourself?

My eyes are tired.

Posted by ruth at May 23, 2002 06:10 PM