All posts by Ric d. Stark

New to a post-retirement commitment to literary non-fiction, Ric d. Stark will focus memories on gay life, Hawaiʻi life and Hawaiian quilting.

Today…

So tell me, please. Today…

Am I standing a bit taller (rather than a shrinking old man)?

Do I look a bit wiser (or more foolish)?

Do I sound slightly more authoritative (when I mutter something out loud)?

Does my writing room smell a bit like that of a college prof (minus the pipe odor)?

Do I get to step to the front of the line (at Costco)?

Does my doggy listen and mind (rather than jumping up on folks)?

Do my neighbors leave gifts (on my doorstep)?

Does Paula Akana call me for an interview (on KITV News 4)?

Okay, let me answer (since I don’t hear anyone replying)…

The first one? Yeah, maybe a bit. I am terribly proud and unable to act with humility (ha‘aha‘a, Aunty called it.)

The rest of the list? gets progressively more delusional (Yes, I do know that.)

Gary in my Sunday morning writing group commented a few days ago, “An author doesn’t really get noticed until he/she/they have published seven or eight books.

Okay! Well, I’m editing book #2. Book #3 is ~80% written. Give me a couple years and I’ll get there. 

So, I wonder… Will Paula Akana still be anchoring KITV News when I finally do get that interview on evening news?

What’s a writer, if not a dreamer?

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to say… Today, August 24, 2021, Ric d. Stark is a published author. Hooray! Hawai‘i Calling goes live.

What to Do with a Night Moonbow

Night Moonbow Publishing LLC.

Now there’s a name for you! What? Moonbow? Google Docs repeatedly challenged my mis-spelling of the word—until I “told” it to “learn” the word. But it’s interesting to me. The online dictionary doesn’t even recognize the name of my new publishing company.

You meant “rainbow,” right?

Or “moonlight”? Or “moonshine”?

Noooo, I meant “moonbow….” “Night moonbow.”

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 24, Ric d. Stark becomes a published author. My first book, Hawai‘i Calling, is officially available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble (online), Google Books, and Kindle. And, yes, also here—at www.ricdstark.com. Yes, it’s a big day in one guy’s life. Thanks to you for sharing it with me.

I finished writing, editing, and re-editing (23 times) in May. Since then, I have moved forward in my new adventure of writing adult nonfiction. I am now editing my second book, An American in Palestine. And I have formed my own publishing company, called Night Moonbow Publishing LLC.

So what’s with this night moonbow? It is arguably the most impactful story in my book, Hawai‘i Calling. Chapter Eleven tells the story of my encounter with a rainbow at night, created by refraction of moonlight through water droplets on a full-moon night on Hawai‘i Island.

Before that night, I had heard of night rainbows but never dreamt of seeing one. Well, change that idea! You know the thrill and uplift that we receive every time we see a rainbow? Now take that happy emotion and expand it by a quotient of one hundred. That approaches the thrill and awe that I experienced as I stared into a night sky and witnessed my first (and only) night moonbow.

An encounter worthy of naming a company—that’s what I think…

Lake Waiau—Hawaiian Style

I knew that Hawaiians have a powerful spiritual connection with Lake Waiau, atop Mauna Kea on Hawai‘i Island. So many songs and legends about Mauna Kea—of course, it has special import for the kanaka maoli (native people). To be sure, the land (ka ‘aina) is treasured by Hawaiians. Yet, Mauna Kea is special above any place (he wahi pana). And the tiny footprint of Lake Waiau is revered highest of all.

I knew all of this—before I visited Lake Waiau on Christmas morning, December 25, 2004. What I didn’t know before that day—I knew nothing of the details or spiritual thought (he mana‘o) associated with Lake Waiau.

Yet here’s the twist (for me). Lacking any details about the Hawaiian connection to Lake Waiau, I stood on that lakeshore on a Christmas morning—my feet touching the stones of the shoreline, my spirit transported into another dimension of reality. I felt and experienced what I called “the Christmas miracle,” the birthing of the world through this Lake Waiau. Later that day I wrote to friends and described Lake Waiau as the piko (umbilical cord) of the world.

THEN (after all that) I went searching the internet to learn more about Lake Waiau. There I learned that Hawaiians revere Mauna Kea and Lake Waiau in particular as the piko of creation. For Hawaiians, Lake Waiau is the holiest of wahi pana (special places).

How had this haole guy, who’s a transplant to Hawai‘i and who did not know the spiritual tradition of Hawaiian thinking about Lake Waiau…? How had I stood on the edge of that lake and intuited such detail that so clearly aligns with the Hawaiian thought?

I don’t have the answer to that question. I write about that day in my first published book, Hawai‘i Calling. I remember what happened. I do not know how it happened. 

Do you? 

Lake Waiau—the Science

On August 24, 2021, my first book Hawai‘i Calling will be published. (Wahooooo!)I am so excited. A goal since I was seventeen years old, “writing my book” has always been a formidable unachievable task on my “to do” list. No longer! Ric d. Stark is a published author. It only took me 55 years… 

One step further, I am eagerly writing and editing books #2 and #3. And I have my own publishing company, Night Moonbow Publishing LLC, so that I can self-publish.

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To celebrate my own thrill of achievement, I am going to expound during this coming week on one or two of the topics that have become memoir stories in Hawai‘i Calling.

This morning I was searching on-line and I headed over to a wonderful topic—Lake Waiau. So let’s start there. Okay, that story doesn’t appear until page 98 of my 112-page memoir, but no matter… We are going to begin this week of exploration by learning about Lake Waiau atop Mauna Kea on Hawai‘i Island.

First, let’s explore the Western, scientific exclamation points about Lake Waiau. She sits just below the summit of Mauna Kea. One of the highest lakes in the United States, Lake Waiau’s elevation is 13,020 feet. She is the sole alpine lake in Hawai‘i.

The very existence of Lake Waiau is a scientific conundrum. Several scientific theories are put forth; the “truth” is not confirmed. Let’s remember, Hawai‘i is a volcano. Our volcanic rock is porous. Water does not remain on the surface; it seeps away.

So what is a lake doing on the top of Hawaii’s highest mountain? The scientific theories suggest something to do with the volcano and its impact on the rock. Something must have happened when the volcano was spewing lava. The ground got fried or something, creating an impermeable layer of rock, which forms the lake bed. Another theory suggests a permafrost beneath the land surface, which retains the water. (OH, NO! What happens with global warming?)

Whatever the western-thought reason, Lake Waiau is a treasure—both of the mind and of the spirit. Tomorrow, we will explore the spiritual story and learn about Hawaii’s primal connection to this small body of water, sitting atop a mountain in the middle of an ocean.

Happy Birthday, Ric d.

Happy Birthday, indeed. When I turned seventy, I groaned and decided, No more birthday celebrations. I’m getting old. Today, two years later, I celebrate 72 and I say, “Blow the horns. Chime the bells. Let the world know.”

Three weeks from tomorrow, August 24, my first book, Hawai‘i Calling, will publish. At seventy-two, I am finally realizing a goal I set when I was seventeen. Plus, I am currently editing book #2 and learning Adobe InDesign, so that I can self-publish An American in Palestine. …and… Book #3 is stored in some 100+ micro memoirs on my Google drive, waiting to be collated into book form. 

You might say the old fart is on a roll. Since this is my year (year of the Ox on the Chinese horoscope), this fiery Leo is tapping all the neurons and synapses in his brain. Let’s hope what connects and emits is worth the effort!

Today, I am celebrating #72 with one primary task. By day’s end, I aim to have a payment and shipping system connected to my writer’s website. And I intend to get my contact list ready, set for my “Go” announcement of advance book sales for Hawai‘i Calling.

I will celebrate tonight with my neighbor and lay-editing friend Connie with dinner at Assagio’s in Kapolei.

Who says getting old is less… less anything?

Israel for Whom???

Last week I heard another statement from Israel that curdled my blood. Some politician (I don’t think it was the new right-wing Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett.) decreed that God chose the Jewish people as His chosen and gave them the land of Israel. Israel is meant for Jews and no one else.

 Such a statement is the very reason that I quit reciting daily monastic prayer, where we cycle through the 150 psalms every month. The Psalter is riddled with verses claiming that Israel is God’s chosen people, favored above all others. After my three-month visit to Palestine in 2014, I simply could not continue to flush such nonsense through my brain four times a day.

I am disgusted to hear and know and realize that anyone in today’s world would suggest that one people are God’s chosen, above all other people. (Naive, I know. But nonetheless, I am disgusted and outraged.)

Today I have two favorite theologians and their quotes.

,Michael Curry, the Archbishop of the U.S. Episcopalian Church said in his sermon in Honolulu in 2018, “If it ain’t about Love, then it ain’t about God.”

Amen to that one.

Any my personal all-time favorite, Mother Julian of Norwich, always gives me hope and sustains my cultivated naivete.

“All shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well.”

Amen to that one too.

Neither statement leaves one sliver of space for “Israel for Jews and nobody else.”

Outrage Over Muslim Prayer Ban

I honestly don’t know what to do with myself on this one. Posting my outrage seems pitifully inadequate. Playing the “songs” of Muslim call to prayer soothes my soul. But I doubt it can affect real change. 

I am beyond enraged… and here’s why…

Last week I read one newsfeed somewhere about the state of Israel proposing a ban on public call-to-prayer by Muslims. 

So to those who have never heard the call to prayer after sunset over Old City Jerusalem (Maghrib), that statement is just so many words about one of today’s myriad political clashes. But to those of us who have listened… To those of us whose hearts were amended by those haunting calls over the Old City… To those of us whose souls were mended by those entreaties to prayer… I cannot cry the tears of my eyes. I cannot scream with the outrage of my heart. I cannot mourn with the sadness that pierces my soul. This is TOO MUCH!

Here is what I wrote about 2013 when I heard the call to prayer over Jerusalem just after sunset:

Muslim Call to Prayer

The most treasured memories are always the most challenging to describe and to share. Words fall short and fail. Yet, I try. I must try.

It happened five times each day—the Muslim call to prayer reverberated across Old City Jerusalem. Without question, the most inspiring and haunting calling came just after sunset. Maghrib, it’s called in the Muslim liturgy.

I learned that first evening in Jerusalem and then made it a deliberate effort to return to the roof of Citadel Youth Hostel at sunset each evening.

On some unknown cue, one voice would erupt into the evening air. Within a few seconds, another voice would join. Then another. Soon a cacophony of a half-dozen loud voices were calling out from all directions in the city. 

“Allah hu Akbar” (Allah is Great) The prayers would continue, overlapping and blending the sounds of the summoning of believers to evening prayer. In seventy-two years, no sound has pierced so deeply into my soul. Words I did not know in a religion not my own, nothing has ever reached my hearing with the impact and forever memory of the Muslim calls to prayer over the city of Jerusalem just after sunset.

I made a video from the Citadel rooftop. I panned the dimming horizon of the city as these voices peeled into the air. Today, I HAVE LOST THE VIDEO. I cannot find it. If I could, I would include a video link in my book about Palestine.

Instead, I suggest this link. Google: Muslim call to prayer over Jerusalem after sunset. Choose the recording by Stasio Rusek recorded this evening call to prayer in 2015. This is similar to what I heard each evening in 2013.

And that is what I heard. That is the music that Israel wants to erase from Jerusalem!

A Gay in Palestine

On July 14, 2021, I was meeting with my psychologist, Kevin Moran. We were discussing my first task of editing my second book, working title An American in Palestine. I was sharing with Kevin that this second work was so completely different than my first book. I realized that such a different work might not appeal to the same kind of reader audience. I accepted that difference and the implied risk. After all, I am writing to share my voice, not to gather a fan club. My readers will follow my work because they enjoy what I say and how I share my words, not because I have written with a goal of collecting a readership. 

Continuing my thinking, I told Kevin that there was one aspect of my second book that did bother me. My second work would include nothing of my gay identity. I had agreed not to disclose my gay sexuality while I visited Palestine as a guest of Farouk Al Jaabari, so my book would not mention anything related to my identity as a gay man. That bothered me. I told Kevin, “I accepted the notion of concealing my gay identity while in Palestine. But now it concerns me as I write my book. If there is any single voice that I am determined to share in my writing, it is that of a gay man.”

Kevin heard me. In reply, he asked me, “So Ric, what is it that makes you not want to reveal yourself as a gay man in your book about Palestine?”

Kevin’s words hit me like a battering ram, breaking down some heavy closed gate of permission inside my head. “Oh my God, Kevin! Oh no! I can’t believe what I’ve done. You just destroyed a barrier that I set up inside my own head.

“Thank you! Of course! I agreed to conceal my gay identity while I was a guest visiting in Palestine in 2014. But that was seven years ago. And today I am writing my memories of that time. I am writing today, in the now, and I am writing as a proud gay man. Why would I even consider concealing that identity in my 2021 memoir?”

I reached onto my desk and lifted up the 200+ pages of my first draft memoirs. Lifting them above my head, I made a gesture to toss the writings into the wastebasket. “I have to start over!”

Kevin, laughing aloud and sharing my consternation, cried aloud, “No! Ric, don’t throw them away!”

We lapsed into chuckles. I swiped my brow. “Thanks a lot, Kevin!,” I said a bit sarcastically. “Now you have just doubled the amount of time I need to spend in editing. But you know what?”

“Okay, tell me, What?” replied my counselor friend.

“I am so thrilled. It is going to be so much more fun to amend my stories so that I tell them as a proud gay man, rather than as some asexual American visiting a foreign land.”

Arabic 101

Sometime during the second month of my Palestinian stay, I tackled the challenge of learning the Arabic language. I was joining the Al Jaabari family every Friday for an afternoon and evening of sharing food and conversation. But I was definitely on the sidelines with the conversation.

I determined to change that. I purchased a Rosetta version of Arabic. On a Friday afternoon, I announced my intention to the family. They cheered and stepped forward. The three young women, Suhana, Tahira, and Noon taught me the days of the week. By day’s end, I could say them in sequence and I could almost answer when they quizzed me, “What’s Tuesday?”

I returned to my apartment that week with eager determination. I opened Rosetta and spent a couple of hours each day practicing my skills with Arabic. I made a deliberate focus on learning the Arabic names for different fruits and vegetables. By the following Friday, I was ready to impress the family with my new tongue.

After the Friday meal, we gathered around in the chairs and sofas that encircled the living room. I turned to Noon and announced my intention of sharing what I had learned. Everyone was hushed. All were eager to hear.

I began with tomato, “Bindura.” My word was met by blank expressions. I repeated, “Bindura.” 

After three attempts, one of the boys shouted out the word in their native tongue. “Ahh!” Laughter echoed around the room and Noon repeated the word to me with a pronunciation that I barely recognized.

I tried another word, olive, “Zaytun.” Again, my utterance elicited quizzical blank expressions. I repeated. Eventually, Masood, the whiz-kid of the family, repeated their word for olive.

For the dozen or so words I had memorized, my hosts recognized only two or three. For half a dozen fruits, the family used an entirely different word.

I was disheartened and discouraged. I persisted but with less energy and enthusiasm. Occasionally, I recognized a word in their conversations. But translation remained the only way that my friends could include me in their discussions.

Today? “Salaam alaikum” and “Shokran” are the two lonely expressions that retain active synapses in my brain.

A Long Pause

This morning I wrote a memoir segment about visiting Nablus in northern Palestine. The last segment I wrote was about driving from Bethlehem to Nablus. That memoir piece is dated 05/30/21. It has been twenty-four days since I have written.

I didn’t begin my pause with any intention. On the first day, I simply didn’t write. By the third and fourth days, it was bothering me. I began to obsess about it. I even made it an item of discussion with my therapist a couple of weeks ago.

Was I quitting? It didn’t feel like writers’ block–whatever that is. There is a distinction in my mind. My concept of writers’ block is that I sit down at the computer and nothing comes out. This was different. I wasn’t writing because I didn’t want to write. And I felt guilty about it.

Kevin, my shrink, and I put some perspective on the whole thing. Between December 18 and May 30, I had written over 400 memoirs. I had finished a manuscript for my book. Hawaiʻi Calling was on its way toward the printer. I was racing furiously forward, working on two new books. One explores and unveils the dark secrets of my family of origin. The second details the tender and touching memories of my three months in Palestine in 2014. From zero to light speed–that’s what I had done in those less-than six months.

But suddenly, I quit writing. I didn’t want to write. I could have done so if I sat down. But I didn’t want to do it.

Today I did it again. I wrote. Picked up right where I left off and continued my Palestinian journey. I wrote today because I wanted to write.

I remind myself. I am new at this. Writing (as a non-profession) is a brand new experience. I’m learning. Learning about writing. Learning about myself. Learning about the powerful storehouse of experiences that dwell in countless neurons inside me. They are all there. They are waiting. Waiting for me to want to tell them.

In a few weeks, I will be holding a 100-some-page book in my hands. The cover will read,

Hawaiʻi Calling

Ric Stark

The Haliʻa Aloha Series

I wonder what that experience will feel like and what it will teach me.