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 ( 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