Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Goodbye, 2003

The Review

This was an even better year than last. I launched three of my own Web sites, performed original songs at two separate house concerts, discovered that I indeed have a songwriting partner in my Sweetie, visited Chicago and New York again, got a raise and tons more. To top it off, I went to a glorious performance of Beethoven's Ninth at the Blaisdell last night and plan to sneak in a glass of champagne sometime before the stroke of midnight tonight. I had much to be thankful for this year and feel that I got more than my fair share of blessings. I don't take a thing for granted.

The Prayer

Dear God, I still fear you. I know you see and understand. Help me to love others. I almost forgot what it was like to hear the words, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Haven't done that just yet, but I'm working on it. I'm still in the process of realizing how pissed I am at people from my past, but will get to it as soon as that phase is over.

The Hope

What do I have to look forward next year? I won't predict a thing. It's never as you expect. Just bracing for another ride.

Posted by ruth at December 31, 2003 12:34 PM

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Downtown Crowd

They continue to eat at chic downtown restaurants, wearing Ann Taylor office suits and Donna Karan hose, sprinkling "God" into the conversation over chicken Caesar salads.

They couldn't rescue Naomi from the periphery and seem indifferent over her transformation into a passing thought. She asked me to have lunch with her. I agreed. But today I cringe. Behind my electric blue eyeshadow is a soul who will not see what she may too delightfully describe.

 Posted by ruth at November 06, 2003 12:30 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Big Picture

My stomach is turning and turning. Why does the universe allow people like her to win? There's something eerie that clouds this place.

Posted by ruth at September 17, 2003 10:09 AM

The Waitress

Maybe I try so hard to help her become an artist because I was too scared to become one myself.

I watch as the hours of work dwindle to nothing for her and understand how she has to prepare cheap home meals to make ends meet. She's thinking about becoming a waitress, and I plead her to find ways to get paid doing design. But she tells me, "I have to survive."

"Would you like something to drink?" she'll ask them, then return, placing glasses onto tabletops with a masterful hand.

Posted by ruth at September 17, 2003 10:27 AM

She's alive!
Posted by: One Bad Pig on September 20, 2003 01:13 AM
You know, Mitchell, I think it's been too long, and I have forgotten what it was like to feel the rawness of life and just live.
You don't know how much I needed that reminder. Perfect timing.
Posted by: ruth on September 22, 2003 04:49 PM

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Turning Pillow

a midnight tear
for your fear
and indecision
and how they may
drive me
to one morning
wake up
in my own bed
knowing that I can
climb back
into yours

Posted by ruth at September 11, 2003 06:44 PM

Friday, July 18, 2003


There are too many people dying, and so much of it seems wrong.

In the balance, is this how it supposed to be,

For the world to lose and gain

By whatever means available to lose or gain?

People enter pleas into the sea of discourse

And the headlines don't change.

Today I am weary.

I want to curl into a couch under your arms and onto your chest,

Hear the sound of each heartbeat

Announce the birth of one

And the death of another.

Posted by ruth at July 18, 2003 11:10 AM

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

The Dancefloor

I walk onto the dancefloor
When the song begins
And off when it ends
Then on again when it begins
The off again when it ends
I walk onto the dancefloor
When the song begins
And off when it ends
Then on again when it begins
The off again when it ends
I walk onto the dancefloor
When the song begins
And off when it ends
Then on again when it begins
The off again when it ends
I walk onto the dancefloor
When the song begins
And off when it ends
Then on again when it begins
The off again when it ends

Posted by ruth at July 02, 2003 07:31 PM

Monday, June 23, 2003

Who Are We?

Sometimes, when I least expect it, raw emotions from two years ago resurface somewhere from a hidden crevice inside my gut to the front of my face, right under my eyes and nose.

Jan was my "best friend" in college, then things crashed in May 2001. She spurned me after I said something about her relationship that she perceived as being judgmental. She sent several terse, angry e-mails. And at the 10-year high school reunion dinner, she didn't say a word to me, though it was a small gathering. Then the communication stopped.

Only through the grapevine did I hear what she was saying about me (she and a friend calling me a "hypocrite" and a "non-believer," whatever that can possibly mean, confirming to each other that "we don't like Ruth"). But then again, I'm guilty of saying unkind things about her, too.

I felt weak. I felt raw. Truth be told, I haven't forgiven her. I don't know why. I don't really understand forgiveness at the core. Perhaps your best intention can be to forgive, care, love unconditionally, move on. But there is material that can be left behind, no matter how good your intentions are.

Perhaps part of the anger relates to how regretfully weak I was during that whole year we struggled to communicate. Perhaps the anger relates more to an anger toward who I was back then and less toward Jan. During that harsh year, I constantly told her that I cared for her and that we were still friends and that I wanted the best for her and that I respected her, despite her harsh e-mails and her need to "cut things off." I acted in a way that was very Christian, very forgiving. It was the right thing to do, I thought.

But deep inside, I was extremely angry and hurt. I wanted to lash out, the same way she did to me, slicing into me with her e-mails. But my muscles don't know how to do that.

I sit at my desk on June 2003, and I don't understand this energy. What does one do with things like this?

Sometimes we think we've left the past behind us, that it can't touch us any longer, like we can separate ourselves the same way a video tape is physically separated from our existence.

Who are we, really?

Posted by ruth at June 23, 2003 01:13 PM

There is no set time for how long painful memories require to heal, but the sooner this one does, the sooner you will be able to answer your question of who you are.
Posted by: kane on June 29, 2003 09:55 PM

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Philosophy of Song

I went to local jazz gig last night, and this out-of-town singer "sat in" (musician speak for when a guest performs a song or two during someone else's gig).

Warm, colorful voice. Deep and wide, mellow and strong. Butter, cognac. And she had the chops, scatting every which way. I really think she could do anything and everything with her fine instrument.

Unfortunately, she did.

On her Latin tune, she did a lot of bending and delays, swooping and dragging, which can be sexy and cool. The crowd loved her. They were amazed and were left breathless. She ended her tune to much clapping and "Hana hou!" She definitely delivered on the "wow" factor.

But I was left with a completely different feeling. I don't prefer acrobatics strewn throughout an entire song with no relief in simplicity. Sometimes when performers "go for it" that way, the essence and emotion inside a song is lost to the flashiness of the vocalist.

Perhaps it's a matter of philosophy. I believe the performer is simply a vessel for the true thing of value, which is the work itself. Before you let me sense your awesome skills, let me sense the song.

Posted by ruth at June 18, 2003 11:30 AM

Hmmm ....

A lot of guys like golf.

Posted by ruth at June 18, 2003 03:00 PM

A lot of guys like The Three Stooges. I never understood the appeal of either.
Posted by: Ryan on June 19, 2003 12:49 PM

Friday, May 30, 2003

Reframed Screams

I had some time to think about my frustrations described in "Violent Moonwalk" and "Adult Screams."

These are not new frustrations, but the way that I frame them is changing - and must. We all have to help each other. We are all fragile. We all need.


Posted by ruth at May 30, 2003 11:33 AM

Friday, May 16, 2003

Violent Moonwalk

Ugh. ... Argh! Ack!

What kinds of words do you use when you're frustrated by the rope someone puts around you? This relates the frustrations recorded in "Adult Screams."

"Ruth," she calls on the phone. "I heard you're going to Makapuu late at night. I'm very worried."
Tonight's a full moon, so I was going to gather a bunch for a moonwalk.

Mom and I go through this exchange.

"Don't worry, Mom, it's a full moon. There will be others out there" (though I am not certain).

"Well, you know what happened in Makaha years ago. These Samoan guys killed the guy and six guys raped the girl. It's dangerous. You better be safe."

I've been on this moonwalk many times. I understand that anywhere you go, there is inherent danger, and at an isolated place like that, there is a greater risk of being "trapped" if someone wanted to hurt you. But to never see what Makapuu offers because of this fear is no way to live.

If I died trying to experience something beautiful, then so be it. I would rather live that way than stay at home and never be able to testify that "I saw that" or "I felt that."

Mom hears the frustation I thought I so cleverly hid. "Let me be Mom," she says.

We say our polite goodbyes. I hang up the phone.

"Let me be Ruth!"

I need to take a walk.


I know she loves me. If I could ask her one thing, it would be that we treat each other as adult equals, that she throw down her Mom role for something that I think is better for where we're at - equal friendship, mutual respect.

Is this too much to ask? Am I being naive?

Posted by ruth at May 16, 2003 05:10 PM

Jen, my wife, always said, "It's different for girls," and I, idealistic, would just shake my head. Now that I have a daughter, though...
Besides, I think your mom isn't just worried about you, she's just worried. That is, she personally wouldn't feel safe out there, and unfounded or not, that's why she has to warn you. I don't think she specifically thinks you're less capable, or undeserving of respect.
Katie might grow up to be a black-belt kickboxer who can bench press 200 pounds. But I'll still nag, and sit up nights when she strikes out on her own... at fifteen, or twenty five.
I hope the moonwalk was as gorgeous as I imagine! It's been a good week in general for moonwatching. (Even if we were denied the eclipse.)
Posted by: Ryan on May 18, 2003 12:01 AM
Hey Ryan,
Well, the hike turned out to be absolutely lovely.
There were other groups of walkers there on our way up, though our group was the only one left on the hill by the time we were going back.
During the first part of the hike, I had all these nervous and unsafe feelings, with my mom's voice hanging over me like an ominous curse.
But the adrenaline starting pumping, and I suddenly felt safe. It was a most gorgeous hike, and I'm glad I experienced it.
Posted by: ruth on May 19, 2003 10:35 AM
Distance helps. Even now when I stay at my parents', I have a curfew (!!) and my mom is either calling me or wanting me to call her constantly if I'm out.
2500 miles away, she worries if I don't call for a day or two; I only tell her afterwards what I did. I merely climbed- not jumped, mind you, just climbed- the rock in Waimea and told her about it, and she started to freak out.
I don't worry too much about going places in a group, though being alone just about anywhere makes me nervous. I think that's my mom's constant warnings from when I was young- I still have recurring dreams about being kidnapped and/or attacked by strange scary men.
Ultimately, though, I think a bit of common sense and belief in fate (if it's your time to go, nothing you can do about it) guide me. If I have a bad feeling about it, I won't go; otherwise I trust I'll be fine.
Posted by: lisa on May 19, 2003 06:55 PM
Hi Lisa,
Yeah - distance does help. I have a friend who moved thousands of miles away from her parents, and she can be much more selective about the image her parents receive of the life she lives here.
And I experienced something similar when I stayed in Boston for two months. I did all kinds of things but told my parents the waterered-down version.
I can relate to you in that my parents do want to keep in touch - constantly. While that can be a source of struggle, I at least understand the core, which is their desire to be connected. I don't want to throw away all connections because of certain frustrations. Life is too short to disregard your parents over irritations.
I'm sort of trying to strike a balance, wanting to be an adult yet wanting still to honor my parents' love for me. It's not always easy.
Thanks for your insight, Lisa.
Posted by: ruth on May 20, 2003 01:15 PM

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Waning Light

My kindness toward you wanes

And I am sad.

If my trust were blind and my soul innocent,

Perhaps my kindness might grow.

But I am weary, sometimes breathless and weary

Over the times I must second-guess

Whether you will strike me,

Knowing indeed that it is easier

For you to hurt me

Than for you to risk losing

The little you have.

Posted by ruth at May 15, 2003 05:23 PM

Monday, May 12, 2003


She, a middle-aged Japanese woman with strong cheekbones, stared like a tiger into my eyes, her aging limbs stepping past me in the concert hall balcony.

She did not touch me. I disgusted her.

Posted by ruth at May 12, 2003 03:12 PM

Friday, May 9, 2003

Adult Scream

Last August, my brother became a father without the prospect of becoming a husband.

"If that happens to you," my mom said over the phone, "Mom will not exist on this earth."

Mom moved from Okinawan in 1969 to become a pastor's wife and a mother in very short order.
For more than three decades, Mom and Dad worked hard to give their four children everything, including an education.

And in the true spirit of learning, I explored many ideas, not just the ones handed to me during my childhood. I began to see that some "right" paths are absurd.

My brother had become a father that way, but he was being more human than the rest of us. I want to be human, and openly human. But she says it'll kill her.

I want to scream, "That's not fair! That kind of pressure is wrong!"

But she will curl and cry. And she will tell me, "I am nothing to you, then. I have no meaning." So I refrain, as any respectful little girl would.

I'm 30. I'm silent. I want to scream.

Posted by ruth at May 09, 2003 03:33 PM

Scream! By all means, scream. Mother will survive it. And you and she will be stronger for it.
Posted by: kane on May 11, 2003 08:10 PM
Kane - thanks.
It's a little jarring to see secret parts of people who were once your superheroes.
Posted by: ruth on May 12, 2003 12:37 PM

Tuesday, May 6, 2003


The whole UH logo controvery really hit a nerve for me. I have to carry some of the discussion on my own site since the discussion thread on is nearing the end of its shelf-life.

If this discussion were strictly about a logo in and of itself, I wouldn't really care. But this discussion dug deeply into issues of artistic contribution and how the public perceives, receives and rejects it.

It's not my style to be publicly critical of artists, being an artist myself. However, the logos presented by the UH administration were publicly roasted by many people who said they could do better and for much cheaper. Perhaps the people who were vocal about the logos may have sent in their own submissions. I'm not certain. But at this point in the game, having seen the kind of criticism dished out to the the Mainland firm, anyone submitting a design challenging the firm's work should at least be ready to receive criticism as well.

About the Submissions

I have a couple points:
  • Hawaii Stereotypes Revisited. I know several people were complaining that the two scrapped logos embodied Mainland stereotypes of Hawaii. But I also think the reader/viewer submissions did just the same. I don't need to see the eight islands plopped upon an "H" for me to get that it's Hawaii. And if the ocean, flowers and palm trees aren't the stereotypical Hawaii, then I don't know what is.
  • Lack of Simplicity. The submissions are too busy, and they force too many literal images together. They cobble all kinds of generic concepts into a basket. Ultimately, they lack elegance and depth.
Seeking a Sage

Logos, like any artistic product, should make other feel emotions. That end result often does not come about through chaos, but through simplicity. Some of the most powerful logos of all time? To name a few:
  • The cross
  • The Swastika
  • The Nike "swoosh"
Simplicity requires wisdom. If that is the case, we don't need a technically sound artist as much as we need a deep thinker. UH really needed an artist who is a philosopher, too. Short of that, they truly would miss the mark.

Posted by ruth at May 06, 2003 06:42 PM

Thursday, May 1, 2003


All humans are manipulative.

Posted by ruth at May 01, 2003 01:33 PM

Monday, April 21, 2003


What am I doing?

Posted by ruth at April 21, 2003 04:28 PM

And doing a bang up job of it, too.
Posted by: Ryan on April 23, 2003 09:13 PM

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Over the Ridge

The wind softly robes us
As we climb a beautiful hill
Thousands of miles into the sky
Our feet surrounded by
Flowers whose names I couldn't know.

We reach the ridge.
An instant brings
Another world to us

No clouds roam the sky
Blue of the mountain so deep
Envelopes my mind
Reaches so high
That I become nothing
Valley buries a carpet so low
Only an eternity would get us there.
Trees cover the mountainside
With green so moving
I become lost
Powerful water gushes
Through rock
In glowing white
With a voice so frightful and gentle
It could only be God

Written 10/2001

Posted by ruth at April 10, 2003 10:50 AM

I love this poem.
While reading, I had visions of the Stairway to Heaven and the trails deep within the Koolau Valley.
Posted by: kane on April 11, 2003 06:37 PM
Kane! Hi!
Thanks for your insight. I heard about the Stairway to Heaven, and now I'm eager to hike there.
Take care,
Posted by: Kane! on April 15, 2003 07:42 PM

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Tired Songs

Stretch and work my brain
Hours into the night
Hours into exhaustion
For words on digital pages
That are edited away like vapors.
I did something there, I really did.
But who will ever know?
Who will ever care?

Posted by ruth at February 23, 2003 05:22 PM

This entry has haunted me for a week now. I love it. It's something that's troubled me for years, now, the unreal, changing nature of modern communication. Whether just a grocery list or a masterpiece of literature, it can come and go in a fraction of a blink.
If the electrons that made up a poem go elsewhere, was the poem ever there in the first place?
Posted by: Ryan on March 9, 2003 09:53 PM
ah ...
I shall meditate upon that pixel.
Posted by: ruth on March 12, 2003 01:44 PM

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Reality to AIM For

I checked out my buddy list on AIM tonight.

Some buddies have faded. And not from me, but simply from the care of people in general. I see and sense this.

Some buddies I knew were just kids a couple years ago, but something happened to them. They got hurt by a love or fell out of favor from work supervisors. They've become reclusive. The light has left their eyes.

Probably the same mantra: Build shells or die of pain from the elements.

I want to chip away at you, but sometimes I feel as if I will die of fatigue trying to get to your impossible center.

Posted by ruth at February 12, 2003 11:05 PM

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Valentine's Day

I know it's early, but I can't help it.

Sweetie, thanks for a year that even I with my crazy imagination could never have dreamed of.

You are the real thing. I love you. With all my heart, I love you!

Happy Valentine's Day.

Posted by ruth at February 11, 2003 11:39 PM

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Broken Links

in a dark parking lot
under a fluorescent lamp
he is diety
an expert of the web
speaking many obscure languages
so he tells me
and why should i doubt
such a curved smile
and blue jeans that seem
i want to know the texture
of his denim
down to the bone
of his ankle
but he tells me
"as i traverse your site
i find broken links"
so i ask forgiveness
for the bad code i cannot change
just yet
but he'd rather look
at his watch tonight

Written 1/16/2002

I wrote that poem awhile ago, in the middle of much angst and loss.
I was reminded of this entry as I was putting together a site tonight. Sometimes, the outside can look so good, but the internal structure can be devastatingly horrible.

Posted by ruth at January 28, 2003 01:14 AM

so very true.
Posted by: kane on January 28, 2003 7:26 PM

Monday, January 27, 2003

Church of the Abs

Pretty soon, I'll be heading off to the gym. Andrew, one of the personal trainers, saw me and thought I was my twin sister, Naomi. He later expressed relief to Naomi that it was a mix-up.

"At least you're still lean" is what he told my sister.

I know I'm not mean and lean like my workoutoholic sister, but I'd say I'm at least pleasantly curvy. I strive to exercise at least four times a week and eat responsibly.

But these gym rats live in a different kind of church. They are judgemental in a different way. Their minds have been molded by the doctrine of lean. I pity the woman who has to live up to Andrew's ridiculous expectations. Ultimately, it's just so ... boring.

Posted by ruth at January 27, 2003 07:51 PM

I find that a woman with curves and softness is not only more attractive than many of the hardbodies that frequent these gyms, but they are generally more realistic and down to earth. Just my opinion.
Posted by: kane on January 28, 2003 7:24 PM
kane! why thank you!
a refreshing way to put it. "softness" - i like that.
Posted by: ruth on January 30, 2003 4:48 PM

Sunday, January 19, 2003


Suddenly, you grow up, and the world gets jumbled up.

Everyone expects you to be a certain way, and for some reason another, you can't be "that" way.

I watch my parents' world tumble before their eyes. And as much as I want them to be happy, I cannot change what they see on the screen.

I hide so much from them. The great calamities they see are still just the edited version.

On the brink of 30, you'd think I'd have more freedom to think and do what I see is best.

Posted by ruth at January 19, 2003 05:02 PM

Friday, January 17, 2003

In the Face of Truth

I saw his face on TV this morning. He explained to reporters that he didn't care what people thought of him as long as the publicity helps to put Laci's face on TV so more people will be able to recognize her.

I didn't know much about the case and anything about the investigation. But this morning, my gut curled up as I watched a closeup of him speaking among throngs of reporters.

His face screams what his words deny.

Posted by ruth at January 17, 2003 10:25 AM

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

The Orange Teddy Bear

I had a dream that I was taking care of my infant nephew, Zack. Zack got really hungry.

I became flustered because the only food I had was pineapple slush, and I was worried that it would be too cold for Zack. But he suddenly turned into a cellophane Teddy bear that you could see through. The Teddy bear had black eyes, a black nose and a black mouth. So I filled the Teddy bear with pineapple slush, and from a clear-skinned bear, he turned orange-yellow. I slightly pinched his legs, and it was a cold Teddy.

Zack appeared to be OK. It's funny how in dreams that all of this seems normal.

Posted by ruth at January 14, 2003 02:45 PM

Thursday, January 2, 2003

The Handshake

I saw an estranged friend at the mall today. The encounter was unexpected, since I hadn't seen him in over a year. It happened almost instantly as we walked past each other.

"Hi Ruth," he said, staring into my eyes.

"Hi," I said with a smile.

The brush was so quick. In a second, I was looking back as I watched him become smaller, folding into the crowd at the heart of Ala Moana.

Perhaps all the animosity has subsided. It seemed so easy to say "hi." Too easy. Maybe the pleasant moment was the extra push I needed before truly letting go, like the release of a gentle handshake.

Posted by ruth at January 02, 2003 07:29 PM