Literary: Dat Sputtered, Sprinklah Tongue
100 things from 100 stories in celebration of 100 issues of Bamboo Ridge Press.
1. “We are to live in the middle.”
2. “My wife. Ho. Long time she stay make.”
3. What kind of Filipina can live without tomatoes, mongo beans and blood?
4. To be a Hawaiian woman living in an Oklahoma prison is to feel that the world has abandoned you, but not quite so much as it had when you were living in Hawaii, outside of prison.
5. Liberty House, the Jacksons, Waianae.
6. People with money often don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t care about you.
10. Paddling as a metaphor.
11. Girl steals best friend.
12. A woman drowning.
13. Remembering sugarcane days. Grandmother posing questions to which you have no answers, and in Japanese.
14. “Many years ago…”
15. A child is deaf and mute.
16. Public Schools: 1983.
17. “This ear is not working well, that arm carries a peculiar ache; his left eye trembles now.”
18. If only we could hide from ourselves forever, instead of almost.
19. Death. The incineration of the unclaimed.
20. Crystal meth.
21. Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima as World War II battlegrounds.
22 Sugarcane days.
23. The McDonald’s on Lewers Street. Woolworth’s.
24. Waipahu in the 1950s. “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
25. Concern that one’s entire effort re: writing short stories might consist of scantly fictionalized rehashings of ones own life, with one’s family starring as less-flattering versions of their boring, dumb-fuck selves. Blaming Charlie Memminger for this.
26. The enigmatic Buddhist master reveals himself in the choice between the world “of birth and death” vs a better world beyond it.
27. What it’s like to be the child of a maimed dancer, and to come to terms with her death despite knowing that not once did you see her dance.
28. Manoa Marketplace. Norman Sakamoto for Lt. Governor. Old Japanese guys, who are made of mischief and wisdom and think we should listen to them more often.
29. Meeting one’s newborn daughter for the first time in a Chinese hotel.
30. “He busied himself instead with memories — his and not his — like being hounded in a dream with one eye opened.”
31. Valentine’s Day. Rekindling romance. Waiola Shave Ice.
32. The fear against which a certain kind of person builds a library. Irony.
33. What school you went?
34. War is a killing competition.
35. Running into an ex-wife.
36. It sucks getting old, but maybe what we call “getting old” is really “eating at McDonald’s.”
37. “I’m just a haole girl in a plus-size muumuu.”
38. Missionaries piously bullshitting. Hawaiians drinking too much. Hanafuda. The essential nobility of the Japanese.
39. Lineage. Picture bride grandmother.
40. “Between old age and remembering.”
41. “Each child’s cry is a trumpet blast tearing down these walls.”
42. “This child will wear matching clothes and drive a big car with no one in it but herself.”
43. Assertion: the average poem published by the Bamboo Ridge Press contains 75 calories and 5g of sugar.
44. “…stiff in its fetal position as if it were shielding itself from an imminent, unknown threat.”
45. “…that sulfuric and flaming kind of punishment reserved only for souls that prefer to hold on to whatever are their wicked ways.”
46. The inscrutability of men. If you want to catch one, have his daughter.
47. “And then you take one deep breath, you stop being polite, you stop smiling, and in your nicest haole kine talk you say, I’m sorry but that just doesn’t make sense for Hawai’i. I have a problem with that. I don’t like to complain BUT Dis is wrong and we not going stand fo’ dat.”
48. “If there’s one thing humans like it’s the sound of our own voice.”
49. “When she drifts off to sleep, you feel a fluttering in your chest, a soft flapping of wings that stays inside you, even after she is gone.”
50. Kalihi Valley is full of death.
51. “Parse the word: For: forward, fortunate, fortuitous, not against, but with. Get: claim, hold, beget. If my mother forgets me, am I misbegotten?”
52. “…and always, when I least expect it, there’s a sudden tide of light.”
53. Mangoes can divide us.
54. But mangoes can bring us together.
55. Bird-watching as a metaphor for something. “If I stand in the bamboo,” he snarls, “shit rains down on my head.”
56. Spending Sundays at Aloha Swap Meet. World War II memories.
57. “We go catch frog.”
58 “I think we’ll need two beds,” spoken in the parking lot of a hotel while on vacation as the other person exits the car, is an o-k way to end a yearlong relationship.
59. “Somehow there is always a horizon beyond the horizon — we just have to wait for it.”
60. It can be easier to understand the messages of a grandmother dead twenty years or more than those of the two kids in the back seat.
61. Thirty years of marriage.
62. Whatever part of your house you are not paying attention to, that’s where the bugs are.
63. “After the rest had read, according to seniority or age or our prospective deaths…”
64. “Wave after wave, a melancholy echo.”
65. Marriage number four.
66. Concerning atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in the Pacific, 1945-1992.
67. “Grown old, wary and fretful, I agonize over the picking of the water lilies. I weep at he whispered theft of the golden carp from the Japanese pond and garden.”
68. Be a winner, not a whiner.
69. Cities are so you can forget.
70. If you were part of World War II, it doesn’t take much to remind you.
71. Ghosts might divide themselves up into ethnic groups just like we do; on the other hand, maybe everything we attribute to ghosts is really us.
72. Dat sputtered, sprinklah tongue.
73. The main function of the grandmother in contemporary local fiction is to be dead.
74. Niele people get what they deserve.
75. The red hot dog might be a diet food.
76. When people say “bearded,” they don’t mean it in a good way.
77. Don’t stop for gas if you’re late.
78. In a bad old marriage, it’s generally his fault.
79. Making the connection, in itself, does not solve the problem.
80. There is an oblique correlation between gossip, poi, and recession.
81. If you recognize your old Korean bar hostess out in the line-up, just nod and smile.
82. God is a turtle.
83. Tourists are buying — but not eating — all of the good laulau.
84 &85. Insecurity might be based on a deep belief that you are fundamentally a better person than you really are. And then the evidence starts to come in. A negative self-image, from this perspective, is the opposite of insecurity.
86. “Violated” is one of the worst things a person can be.
87. Bleeding is an activity or process at which one can have a sense of competence, even talent.
88. A short story claiming to be in the style of Hemingway sets the bar way too high. Better to aim for Wagenseller.
89. If you die slowly enough, your family will start to talk about you as though you’re not there.
90. The death of a service-member is often something besides heroic.
91. Authenticity is when you were a child. Corruption is everything since.
92. That anyone, of any origin or ethnicity, is able to engage seriously with the history and culture of this place and emerge basically okay with her identity and location in the community — it is a lot.
93. We are probably confusing map and territory most of the time.
94. Our lives turn on encounters so (apparently) random, so utterly beside the point we were trying to make, that to consider it for any length of time is to risk madness. Also, if you are in your early 20s and looking for a way to radically shorten your life while not actually harming yourself, consider teaching.
95. Our fascination with the plantation era and the Japanese experience in Hawaii more broadly is in part a suicidal performance of filial piety and then also the simple recognition that basically none of us, raised as we were, would have survived that experience.
96. Spilling the beans.
97. No matter how bad the rest of it gets, the searing burn of rejection will always shine through.
98. You will remember the first kiss too.
99. Keep the writers and the politicians apart.