Friday, October 31, 2014

Floating Through Our Apartment

Not long ago, I had an awful day. Norm came home late that afternoon and presented me with a red helium balloon that said in cursive, "I love you." Seeing him in the hallway holding the string was so quaint, so boyish, I gushed realizing that no day could be awful with this person in my life. The balloon had been floating around our apartment for a week when one day I noticed that at the end of the string was something white. When I looked closely, I laughed and smiled. This was so Norm to take a scissors to a paper towel and with his artistic hand cut out a ghost with such an endearing face and a ghoulish presence. I named him "Ghostie." Happy Halloween, everyone! Hope you are treated with moments of friendship and love wherever you may be.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Intoxicating Ravel

Even in its tranquil moments, it's the dissonance and strain of irresolution that make this music intoxicating. To yearn for this kind of beauty is human. Truly moved just thinking about what I heard and felt in the concert hall this past Sunday afternoon.

This is the preview article about the concert written by Star-Advertiser writer Steven Mark:

Hurricane Ana threatened us all weekend, and by Sunday afternoon, Honolulu was covered by dark gray clouds and occasional rain. I've always said that sunshine makes me smile with my eyes but rain makes me smile with my heart. And it is in the rain that I can know the depths of what the music tries to convey.

I am a lucky soul to have sat in the hall, house lights low, as the orchestra and Fabio Bidini performed this work. For my body to sit there and absorb this beauty was almost more than I could take. It's euphoric, your heart aching with a yearning and sadness and sensuality that can only be compared with being in love.

Growing up, I was not exposed to very much classical music, and the little I did know, I resented (this is a separate blog entry entirely, but an important one, nonetheless). This is why I am in awe of my life journey, which placed me in the audience at this concert hall yesterday afternoon. This is colorful, soul-changing music I would have otherwise not known. But these days, I drive my car, and in my head, I hear Ravel; I walk to the office, and in my head, I hear Ravel. I told Norm this afternoon that this second movement sounds like the way that I often feel in real life. How an artist can make this mystery known in the material world is a god-like power, one such power I hope to use while I am alive on this earth.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Raising My Eyebrows at the Makeup Counter

Last week, I went to the Nordstrom Ala Moana makeup counter to buy an eyeliner brush. I asked the makeup artist to show me how to do a catwings eye look, explaining that I ultimately wanted to do a pinup look, which means neutral eyes, strong eyeliner, big lashes and red lips.

She decided to do my whole face, not just the eyeliner. I was pleasantly surprised because I'd be singing a few hours later at The Dragon Upstairs.

For starters, she got a dark brown pencil and started drawing into my eyebrows. I'm Okinawan, and I didn't think I needed anything added to my eyebrows. But, I thought since she was a pro, just go with it. When she was done penciling my eyebrows in, she gave me the handmirror. Wow, my new eyebrows were dark and well-defined as to look rather drawn in, almost forceful. They were so ... severe ... that they almost seemed to throb above my eyes.

She continued doing other parts of my face, but now, as I watched her eyes and facial expressions that revealed her mind full of imagination, just a foot away or closer to mine at times, I started to have all these fantasies about how my whole face would end up looking. Like extreme fantasies. Her fluffy brush on my cheeks went over each side many, many, many times. And she took the eye shadow brush to all parts of my lid from lash to brow to lash to brow. How smokey, oh so smokey, would my eyelids be?

So then I began to prepare myself for not liking the final outcome. I practiced my reaction mentally, silently. I love it, I would say with a smile and a big breath. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, as I am an artist, and I know how you pour your heart into your work. I was practicing in my mind how I'd smile in the mirror and convey utmost and sincere enthusiasm for something I wasn't enthusiastic about. This rehearsing in my head went on for about 4 minutes.

So when this was all over, she gave me the handmirror, and boy was I ready to act out what I'd been practicing in my head. I raised the mirror directly in front of me, and ... wow, I was that pinup model I wanted to be! She ended up doing quite a beautiful job. So, the words came right out of my mouth, "You are so good."

I gave her a real smile and a real affirmation. So glad.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How To Make Mochi

I had a dream in January of this year. Here it is:

I dreamed some ladies at a fancy party were giving condescending looks to my mom and me because of how we were handling our hors d'oeuvres.
I told my mom, "They don't know about our food."
I was holding a partially bitten mochi between my fingers when I walked to a silver tray, picked up a round appetizer I could not identify, then placed my mochi on top of it.
I raised my new creation to one of the rude women and asked, "Do you know what mochi is made of?"
"Well, yes, I do," she insisted. "Brown sugar and eggs."
I stepped toward her. With my feet planted on the kitchen floor, I looked her in the eye.
"No. Mochi is not made with brown sugar and eggs."
Her eyes widened, but she didn't say anything. She wanted me to leave, but I had to make my point: "Mochi ... is not made ... with brown sugar and eggs."
I woke up chuckling. I think I'm making progress.

Gay Children, Their Christian Parents and a Bit of Randomness

I have yet to present the framework by which I look at the the world - how it was, why it is and what's to become of it. When the framework is explained here, I'm sure it will sadden many Christians of whom I love so deeply.  At the same time, it might brighten the outlook for others who've lived a path similar to mine. This framework post is in the works, and I keep reading and rewriting, not for the sake of craft (I have an opinion on that, too), but for the sake of making the most impact on anyone who comes to this message, whether they agree or not.

In the meantime, I am posting a few tidbits of personal insight that I've come across today. It may be a bit random.

Gays and Their Christian Parents

Today, there were a couple discussions on Facebook about same-sex marriage, gay children and their Christian parents. Two people I love and respect are on opposite sides of the issue - one, my brother, a conservative pastor who sees himself as a protector of Christ's truth and the other, my progressive Christian theology student friend who still believes in God and the authority of Scripture, but does not see homosexuality as a sin.

Over the years, I've adopted a rather secular humanist  outlook (this is always evolving) on the world. I no longer see things through the authority of the Bible, but I feel at a visceral level the struggle on both sides. I used to be that person who would fiercely uphold the "love the sinner but hate the sin" message. It would keep me up at night, and for all the cries for tolerance that I heard, though loving as they might have sounded to me, I felt fiercely protective of what I believed to  be the Truth - yes, with a capital "T" - and ultimately this personal savior I loved. But since I have adopted a more naturalistic perspective and removed myself from the emotion that surrounds Biblical content, since I have been able to see the Bible as valuable for its place in humanity's history but not as a guide to govern modern issues, I can view these conversations from a perspective of third-party objectivity - and yet feel the tremendous gravity that both sides feel. I am fascinated that my heart is capable of feeling all these things at once.

So as I read the back-and-forth discussion, one commenter proclaiming that we cannot compromise God's truth, that it is more loving to tell your gay child that his gayness is not holy and the other (my theology friend) bringing up stories of gays being rejected by their parents and churches, my heart started to be filled with a sadness I hadn't felt in years. I recognized how deeply Christian parents love their gay children, loving the best they know how, anyway, and yet I, too, felt rejected personally at such a visceral level. I remember the sadness of "coming out" to my family, not about being gay (I am not), but about my non-belief in God or any god - how hurtful it was to look in their eyes and see how sad this made them, how they questioned whether there was something wrong with me (I was weak-minded) and ... so many other desperately sad exchanges of emotion.  In the face of crushing your own child's self-esteem because of a certain belief about God's holiness, many parents will uphold what they believe to be Truth rather than question the voracity of the actual belief. You can't help this - I know this, and I know this with a kind of sad desperation. So, after much of the back and forth, I contributed to the comments this way:

Christian parents may never quite understand how deeply hurtful the beliefs they hold in their heart may be to their gay children, no matter how tenderly they speak, even with the kindest intent. And for the child to come to a point of forgiveness for that hurt is a long path and arduous journey, one that is difficult even for an adult, and for a teen ... how much more difficult? It is only after such a journey the child can understand the irony in the words of Jesus, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Living in a World that Values Specialization and Productivity

Recently, I've posted a few Facebook status updates expressing my frustration with people not valuing (or really understanding) your subtleties, your aesthetic contributions to the world - well, not valuing them enough to want to pay for it. I have so much to say on this topic, but much of it has to do with living in a world that is structured for productivity and mass consumption. I am truly saddened when people in the creative community are accused of "not having substance." The less relevant you are to the productivity structure, the more stress you might encounter trying to live in it. Businesses pay for highly specialized skills in specific areas. As for me, I just can't wrap my identity in being a specialist in any one thing in exclusion of the many passions I have - I can't even begin to think this way.

With this in mind, I am sharing a few Facebook posts that speak to this:

Is the work of artists being commoditized? Frankly, I'm seeing too many of those Fiverr-produced ads, where all the animations, voiceovers, copywriting styles and background music (especially the music, ugh) have this _similarness_ that is making my insides feel just downight ... bland. Could we as a human species find a way back to having a soul? 

Don't get me wrong - I am amazed by the work of these artists. Their voiceover work, knowing the level of my voiceover work, is quite impressive. In the same vein, I am impressed by the designers at Banana Republic and the GAP, as I, too, am a designer of clothes and bags.  But everyone is wearing BR and GAP - it is everywhere. Everyone looks the same and thinks that dressing the same as the next office worker is a good thing. Bleh. This is the result of a productivity-focused world. We are losing something here - we truly are.

And today, this notion of our world being disconnected and segmented because of productivity and linear learning made me think of another related topic:

I am becoming more and more fascinated by "intelligences" that are sensory. If you can provide any insight, please send me things to watch or read. I recently went to a workshop where the trainer was from Waianae (btw - I am proud to say this is my hometown) and explained how Hawaiians are naturally aural learners, and he expanded by saying they take in their world by seeing and feeling and hearing. I've always been drawn to this kind of intelligence, and growing up in Waianae, I loved how people just knew how do to things, like throw luau with great efficiency or make friends with complete ease at the beach or get intel from others through rather deft conversation. These days, the closest words I might have for this is being street smart or having situational awareness, but I know it goes deeper than this. I think cultures institutionalize these things, whether the learning is linear or aural, as described by the trainer. I don't want to put one over the other, but I will ask the question - how many of these qualities have I suppressed trying to operate in the dominant culture that prizes specialization and a certain kind of productivity? I am not looking for any hard answers, but just want to open up a discussion. ... And of course, I want that reading material. Hmmmm .... wonder if Dr. Suzuki's Nurtured by Love covers this to an extent ... I just started reading this.

I'll just let that one sit. Needless to say, my Facebook friends came through with flying colors. Perhaps I should return to this post later and provide their links - amazing set of resources.