Tag Archives: writing

Prologue to Secrets Unveiled

Yesterday one of my Donna friends shared with me her impressions of reading Hawai‘i Calling, my first book. Donna loved my stories, especially the style of my storytelling with my explicit descriptive command of words. “Really well done; right up there; an A.” She had one cautionary bit of feedback. “Sometimes I felt that I was reading some intimate personal details that maybe I shouldn’t know.” When I pressed her, she alluded to some of the painful experiences of family. She was sorry that I had to live with those kinds of dynamics.

In reply, I thanked Donna for her honest feedback. (I am learning how rare a gift it can be when a good friend shares a critique or some unsettling detail about my writing.) I assured Donna that there would be more of the same in the second book, An American in Palestine. I cautioned her that she may want to skip book #3 entirely.

In that moment, I realized that I need to write this—that I need to place it in the front of Secrets Unveiled—Stories of Forgotten Memories. Perhaps I need to post what follows on the back cover.

A caution to readers: This book contains graphic and intimate detail. Details of explicit sexual encounters of a gay man. Details of a tangled twisted picture of a family mired in dysfunction and abuse. But above all, naked, soul-searching, lay-it-out-plain details of a man, who is emerging and freeing himself from a seventy-some-year whirlpool of his core psyche.

These pages contain light-hearted stories of joy and pleasure. These pages unveil family secrets buried behind impenetrable masks of happy-face. These pages pull down the veiled curtain, lay bare the myth, and step into the light of healing and wholeness.

I write this book for myself. The eternal optimist, I aim to sail out of the eddy of my whirlpool. I share the book publicly, primarily in the hope that other LGBTQ folks (especially those trapped behind the veil of middle-class normality) might find hope—perhaps even reach for a current at the edge of their personal eddy and make peace with their own “forgotten” memories.

Caution: Only the brave of heart need enter.

It Gets Better

I wrote this piece this morning, after writing stories about two friendships in my youth, both of which should/ could have been young lovers. But they weren’t. In those years, I lived in a closet—closed tight with not even a door to open and escape my own prison.

//

It will become a repeated tenor of my story through this section of Secrets Unveiled. For thirteen years between the ages of thirteen and twenty-six, I repeated this emotional roller coaster. These stories are at once exhilarating and loaded with thrills and anticipation while at the same time excruciating in the suspension of any desired culmination or outcome.

I need to pause and acknowledge the mood—the fraught emotion.

These stories are painful to tell. As always, I am reliving the memories as I put ink to paper. This stuff is real. Remembering it is real. Telling the story is real. And it hurts.

This is book #3. I now have more than 400 short memoirs in my notebooks. My writing craft is improving as I continue to do this. And with the improvement, I feel more acutely. The memories don’t simply poke up from the recesses of my mind and zip onto the page. I relive each and every memory as though it happens all over again in my “Now.”

My entire youth is so tortured by my existence in this straight closet where I lived and breathed—all the time trying to hold my breath. Time and again, I fell in love—or at least into lust. Time and again, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t act.

So here I am today, telling my story—reliving the torture of desire and wanting and loving; then halting at the edge of fulfilling the wish. It hurts. It pains me today as much or more than it did then. 

Today, I am a whole and loving gay man. Today, I can feel what I repressed and hid back then. Today, I shed the tears that should have been shed so long ago.

I also realize in my “Now.” I am putting you through this with me. I am asking you to ride this tortured roller coaster through a decade of my life, when I could not be Ric d. 

I want to apologize, but I’m not sure that’s appropriate. If I really didn’t wish you to experience this with me, I could simply not write about it. 

But that would be a lie. And I don’t live a lie. And I won’t ask you to live a lie with me.

So, I will simply acknowledge that I feel like I should apologize. But I won’t. I ask you, “Please, stay and walk this with me. It gets better. Gloriously, deliciously, sensually, sexually so much better.

From a Friend

Who Knows Me Well

Aloha Ric,
Well, it’s your fault that my floor is dirty & there are dishes in the sink. I got your book today, came home from the post office, sat down & read the whole thing.

I so recognized that awareness of Hawai’i being my rightful home. From my first step at Kona airport until now I have never doubted or regretted being here. I know I will always be a haole, fortunate to have been accepted by the people of this land & that’s the next best thing to actually having Hawaiian blood. “On the voyage”.


Your book is wonderful & I was sad to have it end. Glimpses of young Ric & his family; laughs; learning things – I didn’t know about your time with a clothing line! – poignant, thought provoking, just a joy to read. Already wanting to read it again, slower instead of gobbling every word. Underlining some things.
It’s just you. Wonderfully you.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Wendy

Ric: That’s a pretty damn nice book review, no?!!!!

My reply to Wendy: “Wow! Thanks… Btw, the dishes in the bottom of my sink are two days old. I’m lost in the final edits of book #2, “An American in Palestine.”

Wendy’s reply to that: “Don’t worry about the dishes, just keep working on the next book.”

Only “Us”

“We act in Gaza according to our interests.”

“There is no ‘them; there is only ‘us.’”

Two quotes I heard on public radio this morning while driving to my Honolulu Write Team workshop. It’s hard for me to imagine two more contradictory quotes, uttered about two minutes apart and sending my eardrums (and heart) into spasm.

Yes, I will elaborate. That’s why I’m here. I need to elaborate. I HAVE to elaborate—make some ??? of this. (I was going to write the word “sense” there, but I already know—there won’t be any sense to this.)

//

It was the on-the-hour news break. Remember? Yesterday, the new Israeli prime minister met with Joe Biden at the White House. The sound bites are about “establishing a personal relationship” and “affirming our common interests.” This morning Israel fired rockets into Gaza. That killed how many innocent, nameless (Who cares?) Palestinians? 

And today as prime minister Bennett was preparing to board his plane, he spoke, “We act in Gaza according to our interests.”

//

Before leaving home to attend my Sunday writers’ workshop, I had determined to write a short memoir about Palestinians. I am weeks away from publishing my second book, An American in Palestine. So the topic is in my face—seething inside my heart.

Here were the kernels of thought I had determined to share:

Question to American Jews: So are you comfortable knowing that the millions/billions of dollars contributed by your fellow people are used to commit a new genocide against Israel’s “them?”

Question to American Christiians: So are you even aware that in today’s world, saving the Holy Lands means wiping out and eradicating the “them” of Palestinian blood?

Question to American Democrats: So are we comfortable knowing that our beloved (thank God for Joe!) president is cozying up to Israel’s new mass murderer?

Question to Americans All: So are we sitting cozy with the knowledge that our nation’s #1 recipient of foreign aid is Israel?  That Israel is using OUR money and OUR power and OUR influence to disenfranchise, impoverish, and exterminate an entire people? A people that they (and by association, WE) label the bad “them?”

//

A minute after the news played Bennett’s murderous quote on air, “On Being” began a morning interview with Mexican writer, ​​Luis Alberto Urrea. The program opened with a quote by the author, “There is no ‘them;’ there is only ‘us.’”

//

…which means that this morning in Israel/ Gaza, WE lobbed bombs into Gaza, killing OURSELVES. If there’s only “us,” then we committed murder and were murdered today in Gaza. Happy Sunday worship, America. Happy Sunday cruise/ picnic/ baseball/ mall shopping/ couch potatoing, America.

My dark side, yes. I’m pissed. At the same time, I embrace Urrea’s impassioned wish that “it really could be.” I’m gonna play John Lennon’s “Imagine” now. Be well, my friends.

Love Life—It’s What We Got

“Retreat cancelled.” I got a big disappointment in yesterday’s emails. My friend Diane Farrar notified the group of quilters from Big Island’s Ka Lae quilter group that our much-anticipated 2021 KMC Quilters’ Retreat will be cancelled—due to Covid 19 surge in recent weeks. From the years 2012 until 2019, this annual retreat has been my treasured time of productive quilting, priceless camaraderie, blessed renewal, and too much ono (good) food. Since we all missed last year’s retreat, we were holding intense enthusiasm and commitment in knowing that this year, we would gather and feed our souls.

But…not to be.

Yesterday morning when I got the news, I sighed and replied with a joke about folks soothing their let-down feelings by buying a good read (and I just might have a good suggestion!!!) A day later in this evening hour, I am swimming in some different emotions.

//

I am “done” with this virus and its hold on our lives.

1). I am empathetic of the folks, who honestly don’t know and don’t trust and have too much valid history with reason not to trust. These folks are hurting; I hurt too. Not “in their shoes”—that would be presumptive and dis-ingenuous. I hurt because I want them not to hurt—so that I don’t have to hurt. See, it really is about being selfish, isn’t it?

2). I am angry with the millions, who are lapping up the disinformation and who really believe this is about politics and vaccination is on the wrong side of that political divide.

* How many of them have that perfect little circular scar on one arm in the middle of their deltoid muscle? That saved the lives of 1/3 to 1/2 of us. Because of that little scar, we don’t have a smallpox pandemic.

* How many of those nay-sayers drank that little paper cup of polio vaccine in kindergarten? That prevents thousands/ millions of us from living lives with paralysis and deformity.

* How many of those (dammit!) hard-headed creeps refuse to get the necessary vaccines when they travel to foreign countries? Answer: None!

* How many of the non-vaccers realize that it’s only because the rest of us say, “Sure, yes!” that THEY can live healthy lives? Answer: All of them but they refuse to acknowledge it.

3.) I am outraged at the right-wing media tyrants and self-serving politicians, who sell this load of manure (bull***). 

They KNOW better. They all got the vaccine! They all mask in their work hallways! They all do everything they can to avoid moving among or sharing space with the folks in category 1. I honestly believe they should ALL be behind bars for their lies and their perpetration of a pandemic, which could be going in a different direction.

//

Okay, I let out the anger and the outrage. We need permission and space to do that. I found the time and took the space. Now—that’s done.

//

I am living a pretty fine chapter in the life of one Ric d. Stark. I have found a way to light my flame and a place where I can put my candle on top of a hill, rather than hide it under a basket. It’s really really really a gooooooo good time in a life.

At seventy-two, I am more enthused and on fire than almost any other time in life.

* I have nine Hawaiian quilt masterpieces and another nine to design and sew.

* I have published my first book! Hooooooray!

* I have Book #2 on the far end of the editing floor, near the finish line, and almost ready for print.

* Book #3 is splayed out in a clutter of unorganized memoirs and just begging for my devoted attention.

* I have a job that is meaningful, rewarding, and that gives me rent.

* I have a doggy who demands that I back away from the keyboard or the quilting needle to take time for him.

* I have gardens that are growing and winning heaps of compliments from appreciative neighbors.

* I have a wellness coach (I call Kevin my shrink!) who inspires me and helps me to remain my own best cheerleader.

* I have good friends, who insist (by their very being) that I open and share my heart and my life.

* …and I have MEMORIES, my new and latest “husband,” the life companion who nurtures me and who feeds my soul and who gives me more than enough reason to bounce out of bed and “just do it” every day.

I told my BFF Nikki today, “That damn virus may cause my death,… but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let this thing poison my life.”

//

Every morning at 6:00 a.m. when Heno (my doggy) and I go for a walk, I pick a flower and bring it back home to sit at the base of my new iMac. Each day for the whole day, that flower reminds me, 

Life is beautiful.

Time may be fleeting.

“NOW” is the best thing in this universe.

So, smell the aroma; appreciate the beauty; be kind to one (or any number) of folks today; and love life. It’s what we got…

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? 

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?

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.