Jodie Chiemi Ching
You will see a couple of changes in this issue, and there will be a few more in the next one. And it’s not because I am the new editor of the Herald. As you’ve probably already guessed, it’s because we’ve been putting our heads together (while social distancing ourselves of course) to figure out how to adjust our content to adapt to this current COVID-19 pandemic situation.
In this issue, we were going to introduce the new Cherry Blossom Festival queen, share photos from the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin’s “Taste of Hongwanji” and bazaar and attend Jan Iwase’s talk story for her new book, “Leading with Aloha: From the Pineapple Fields to the Principal’s Office.” For now, we will have to put them in our “save it for later” file.
Just like all of you, we are adjusting. Our cover story “History Can Give Us Hope,” by Dan Nakasone focuses on kindness that resulted from tragedy, so relevant to our current situation. Like Mister Rogers said, “Look for the helpers,” because that’s where we can find hope. Our “Bulletin Board” is now a “Recipe Board” changing our events calendar to recipes you can try while you stay at home. In this issue’s “Ryan’s Table” column, Ryan Tatsumoto wrote about how restaurants are adjusting and tips on what foods to stock up on at home.
It’s a weird time to step in as editor, but weird because it feels like I’ve navigated this path before. As a person living with discoid lupus, illness has been the great teacher in my life. Illness taught me to prioritize self-care and set boundaries so I can be of use to my family, friends and community. So, I should not be surprised that I am stepping into my editor role when COVID-19 has shown up to teach us how to be a community. I think the same lessons apply. I still have yet to say I have a wealth of editor experience, however, my experience overcoming illness taught me to have hope. While I agree that COVID-19 sucks, it’s teaching us to support one another by staying socially connected while we must be physically distant.
The other part of this change in our company is that Karleen Chinen, our retiring editor, can enjoy some well-deserved “me time.” Personally, even though I’ve worked at the Herald for only two years, my connection with Karleen goes back quite far since her dad and my grandfather worked as meat cutters together at Times Supermarket on Beretania Street. So I always felt like she was a combination of “aunty” and “boss,” which would explain why she was so forgiving when I accidentally backed into her parked car the week I started working at the Herald. So hazukashii!
I am happy to tell you that she will continue to make a “cameo appearance” from time to time by freelancing for us. And although I know she doesn’t like this sort of thing, I want to express my gratitude to Karleen. As she gradually lessens her time at work, I will miss her nagging Grant “Masanduu” Murata, our advertising manager, for his ads and asking a hundred questions about what he’s made us for lunch — she said that’s my job now. Often, he’d tell her the lunch was made of something he fished out from the Kapälama Canal right outside our office building, to which we would roll our eyes in unison.
I will also miss her at our break-time, drinking coffee and sharing “calaboose crackah” (Diamond Bakery Saloon Pilot crackers) with peanut butter and honey. According to Grant, that’s how the Issei ladies made it.
And what will we do without Karleen’s encyclopedia brain? I will never be able to memorize names, faces and stories like she does. She taught me that the articles’ facts, flow, spelling and grammar should be impeccable. It was engrained in me when she would take what I call the “Red Pen of Humility” to my articles. There were times when I thought I was improving, but my articles would come back with as many squiggly red marks as there are decorations on a Christmas tree. She did it for my own good and for the good of the Herald. And I couldn’t make any excuses or whine about it — this I learned from Lois-Ann Yamanaka. “Don’t cry! You gotta wear your ‘big girl panties,’” she would say.
I hope to be an editor that makes even a fraction of the impact that Karleen has with the Herald and other treasures she helped to publish for our Japanese and Okinawan American communities. I want the Herald to be useful and a way to make our Issei, Nisei and Sansei values relevant to future generations. The Herald staff can’t do it alone. I am also appreciative to you, our subscribers, advertisers and our proofreader, freelance writers, graphic designers and comic strip artists. You are the life-blood of The Hawai’i Herald.
I know when we get past COVID-19, we will be appreciative of many things we took for granted: hugs from family and friends, potlucks, pau hana time and obon festivals just to name a few.
So, here we go, forging forward wearing our “big girl panties or big boy bibadeez!”