Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Monday, January 18, 1999

The insightful mess
on my bulletin board

THE cleaning bug always bites in January, so OUT go the old magazines stacked in the corner and the ancient prescription vials cluttering the medicine cabinet. But what to do about the accumulated hodgepodge of papers, posters, photos and personal notes tacked onto my bulletin board?

Drats! How much more angst-filled it is to cull and toss, when each piece of memorabilia is sentimentally priceless -- special enough to merit a spot on a rectangular slab of corkboard.

What to keep and what to throw away? Some items are journalistic and serious in nature, like the inspiring quote by John B. Oakes, former editorial page editor of the New York Times. In 1967 he wrote, "If a newspaper is a living thing, as I think it is, its news content may be its life blood, the front page may be its face, but its editorials -- its criticism and its commentary -- are its very soul. And when the editorials are flabby or complacent or irresponsible, then that newspaper has lost its soul -- and also lost its character."

Here's one of our mission statements: "Our role as managers of the Star-Bulletin is to perpetuate an independent editorial voice, to improve the product to meet or exceed reader expectations, to support circulation and advertising efforts, and to maintain a diverse staff whose members can rise to their fullest potential."

There's the lighter side of the newsroom, characterized by an editorial cartoon of a patient lying on a psychiatrist's couch and the Freudian-looking doctor in a nearby chair asking, "If you want to be popular, lovable and admired, why did you become a reporter?" A blue-colored bumper sticker declares, "Journalism majors do it and then write about it."

Also affixed to my trusty bulletin board are:

bullet A favorite quote acknowledging middle age, "True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country." -- Kurt Vonnegut.

bullet A treasured poster from the Big Island called "Kimo's Rules," which features a number of akamai mandates: "Never Judge A Day By the Weather," "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things," "Speak Softly And Wear A Loud Shirt," "He Who Dies With The Most Toys Still Dies," "There Are Two Ways To Be Rich -- Make More Or Desire Less" and "No Rain, No Rainbows."

bullet A reminder in perseverance titled "Don't Quit," which goes: "When things go wrong as they sometimes will, When the road you're trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit -- Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

"Success is failure turned inside out, The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems afar. So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -- It's when things go wrong that you mustn't quit."

SPEAKING of quitting, this bulletin board exorcism is terminated right now. There's nothing on it, I've determined, that can or should be discarded. Each souvenir must simply stay up for another year.

That includes this little ditty from the "For Women Who Do Too Much" calendar: "Cleaning out and organizing our drawers -- we know they need it when they attack us when we open them." Since my bulletin board isn't in attack mode, it will remain untouched.

Why, that trouble-making cleaning bug. (Swat!) May it rest in pieces.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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