Tag Archives: Jon Riki Karamatsu

Succeed, Fail, and Come Back


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Let’s succeed, fail, and come back.  Anytime we take action on a goal, we expose ourselves to attack and even failure, but the rewards are tremendous in that we gain ideas, knowledge, skills, relationships, and heck, even success.  I say succeed until you fail, and fail until you succeed because the comebacks are some of the best feelings ever!

Since I was a child, my parents have always encouraged me to try many things. “If you don’t try, you will never know” was the lesson I learned.  So I participated in many sports, school clubs, and community organizations.  When I grew up, I went after my goals in law, politics, and business.  I even made an effort in my love life.  Did I win?  Yes, many times, but I also had my share of losses.  I’ll tell you a few of my experiences.

When I was attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1995, I broke up with my first girlfriend.  I was so sad that my grade point average plummeted from a B average to a D average at which time I was placed on probation.  If I didn’t raise my grade point average, I would be kicked out of the university.  I went to visit one of the university’s counselors.  “What do you want to be?” she asked.

“I want to be a lawyer,” I answered.

She looked down at my grades on the transcript and then she looked back at me. “Do you like working with people?”

“Yes.”

“Why don’t you become a social worker?”

I was quiet. I wonder what my expression may have looked like?

For the next couple of years, I attained mostly all “A”s for every semester except for a few “B”s here and there.  I brought by grade point average back up to a B average and graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.A. in Political Science.

In 2001, I ended up attending Gonzaga University School of Law and graduating with my J.D., passing the Hawaii State Bar Association’s examination, and today, I’m a lawyer.

In politics, I ran for a Hawaii State House seat in 2002 for a community I was unfamiliar with.  I was told that I would likely lose because two of the so-called front-runner opponents were well-known and professionally established.  I was only twenty-seven years old, just out of law school with very little experience, and no name recognition.  Plus, the demographics were not in my favor, and another opponent was young like me with a similar background so we would cancel each other out.  However, I had typed out my strategy and platform for bettering Hawaii many years before while in college so I was mentally prepared.  My front-runner opponents bragged about their experience while I focused on what I was going to achieve for our community and the State of Hawaii.  To counter my opponents’ name recognition, I walked door-to-door around my district 3 times, which was about 20,000 visitation of homes until I burned holes in my pants from the constant rubbing of my bag filled with brochures.  I won the House seat by a good margin.

Years later in 2010, I ran for the Lieutenant Governor’s race and loss, but the newly elected Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith M. Kaneshiro recruited me to become a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and Legislative Liaison because he had watched me in action as the House Judiciary Chairman as I took on very controversial issues like same-sex marriage while he was an attorney with my Senate counterpart, his good friend who I had some disagreements with but I alway tried to be professional with him.

In 2015, I resigned from the Honolulu Prosecutor’s office because of a driving under the influence charge, which I have won the civil side of the case in 2016 because of false information and wrong-doings by the police, but still awaiting an appeal from the higher court on the criminal side of the case after a district court judge ruled that my testimony was not credible, which did not make sense because I didn’t testify in the trial.  Despite it being a traffic crime, he sentenced me to prison with maximum fines and community service, much more than what I’ve seen when I litigated criminal cases such as assault.

Instead of worrying about my legal woes, I dedicated 100% of my efforts into the private sector.  I had ended my Internet retail business in 2012 after 10 years but I was still involved with a couple of business partners in an event production company since 2014.  I then helped to build a night club, assisted an agricultural company in its goal to build a value-added agricultural processing plant, joined a team to build an aviation company, partnered with another group to build a consulting company for foreign investors, and several other projects.  Meanwhile, in my role as a litigating and transactional attorney, I took on a few clients who were undergoing a business partnership split.  In my 2 years since leaving government, I experienced a business partner who took all the money and left the rest of us with nothing, another who didn’t sign an agreement that would give me a tiny share of the company after I helped build it, and another who had child custody legal issues so the company was placed on hold.  To some, these losses could be seen as a failure.  I may have not made money from these ventures, however, I gained a lot of skills, built new relationships, and have come up with ideas for when I make my return to these sectors.  There are many “wins” within such failures.

On the bright side, the aviation company and consulting company for foreign investors are moving forward with business partners that make a great team, and I’m still working on my creative writing projects and taking on some legal work.  With any start-up company, there is a risk of losing time and money, but there is also the opportunity to create new services and products that will generate more jobs and revenue for our community.  It is for these reasons that I continue my journey in these arenas.

Both “success” and “failure” are just as important.  Wins are fun, but if we always got what we wanted in life, we wouldn’t appreciate it as much, and life would become boring.  For it is the experiences of the journey that makes us appreciate the wins.  We gain ideas, knowledge, skills, and relationships regardless if we succeed or fail, therefore, by the looks of it, we still win even when we lose.

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Stories Within Stories


I jumped into my old gun metal truck and drove to my late night hang-out, a coffee shop on the top of the hill above my house, after one of those weeks that furiously flew by. I pulled into the parking lot, and right in front of the coffee shop was a prime parking space that was positioned almost directly in front of the main entrance. I pulled the brake and shut off the engine. While patting the dash of my truck, I sent my thoughts of gratitude to it, “Thank you for taking care of me.” I counted this moment as my tenth win for the day.

I pulled my brief case from behind my seat and exited my truck, locking it with my key. My  remote control had long been discarded in a drawer within my personal office. It’s just something I didn’t care to fix after all these years.

I entered the coffee shop and paused by the display glass filled with sandwiches and pastries so I could pull out my smart phone from my front pocket of my jeans and open the app for the coffee shop, which I used for my transactions since you could get rewarded a free drink after a certain amount of purchases.

“Hey Riki, how are you?” asked Kelly, a cute barista with a mixture of Asian and Caucasian ethnicity who I’ve gotten to know over my many visits. She was always so welcoming.

I walked up to her cash register. “Good to be back at the office.”

“What will you get tonight?” Just as I opened my mouth to speak, Kelly blurted, “Wait, let me guess.”

I chuckled. “Alright.”

She closed her eyes and then opened them with a wide smile. “Hot, medium, Green tea latte?”

“Yes. I swear you have a gift.”

“Well, it’s either that or your hot, medium, plain old green tea. So my odds are pretty good in guessing your drink. Tonight you look a bit stressed and that’s when you go for the sweet stuff.”

“You’re really observant. I have to finish drafting a couple contracts for a friend.”

“Got to get paid right?”

“I don’t know. I only get paid if my friend gets paid.”

A frown formed on Kelly’s perplexed facial expression.

“If the deal doesn’t go through, I get nothing for all the work I do.”

“Damn.”

“It’s the nature of what I do.” If only she knew that I didn’t get paid even when I closed some deals with a couple of former business partners I had. I didn’t fight for anything that was owed to me, I just cut my losses and simply moved on.

I flashed my app on the screen of my smartphone in front of the scanner fronting the cash register. After a “beep” sound, I tapped a button and returned my phone back into my front pocket of my jeans.

“Well, I wish you the best on that deal. Have a productive session.”

“Will do. Thank you.”

I proceeded over to the counter where other customers waited to receive their orders. After a few minutes, my order was called by the barista who made my beverage, a young man named Todd with surfer blonde hair.

I strolled over to my favorite corner of the coffee shop where the counters rode along the windows, and lined up beside it were a number of high stools. I placed my briefcase on an unused stool next to me to my right. I pulled out my laptop from my briefcase and fired it up. I opened up a partial draft of one of the agreements I was working on for my friend. I stared at the words on the screen, which began to blur as I dozed off into another world. When my vision cleared up, I was no longer sitting on a stool in front of the window in my regular coffee shop. Instead, I was leaning back on a black leather couch in the more trendy coffee shop with dimmer lights that I’ve become so familiar with over my eight years of writing and reading this scene over and over.

Across the shop I saw Ken sitting at a small square table in front of Kaylee. He had already given her a chocolate cupcake in his attempt to liven up her spirits. He looked just as nervous as I had envisioned. I smiled and giggled quietly because I knew that he was changing the course of the future between the two of them. If only Ken and Kaylee could know how much a part of me has always been with them. Every bit of their pain has been mine, and every time they’ve experienced joy, I’ve felt it just the same. For it’s through their journey that I’m finding my way. If they can make others feel what I’ve felt, then I’m certain many others will find their way as well.

“Excuse me. Excuse me.”

I snapped back to reality and saw a young college-aged Asian girl standing next to me. “Is it okay if I plug my laptop into the outlet?” she asked and glanced under the counter. I followed her eyes and noticed the outlet just to the left of my leg.

“Oh yeah, sure. Go ahead.” I moved off my stool and stood to the side as she plugged in her laptop and returned to sit at a table behind me.

I got back onto my stool and returned to staring at my draft of the agreement on my computer. The minutes kept changing to higher numbers on my clock located near the upper right corner of my laptop, and still, I didn’t write anything new. “Screw this,” I murmured under my breath. I closed the document and opened up my query letter that was addressed to a boutique literary agency based in New York City. I took out my headset from my briefcase and played the songs from my playlist. I bobbed my head to a catchy song “Something Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay as I proceeded to re-write my query letter.

– Super Short Fictional Story by Jon Riki Karamatsu on March 26, 2016 (This super short fictional story is connected to my first novel that I started in October 2006 and completed in January 2014) –

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Feels Right


An energizing song “Feels Right” by Jocelyn Alice (Galloway Remix). A good song to dance to and lift your spirits.

Lyrics:

We don’t care if we do it right.
We don’t care what it looks like.
We’ve got love in the nightlife.
We’ve got love and it feels right.

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Nice talk with my friend in my dream, the late U.S. Congressman K. Mark Takai.


I woke up this morning of Thursday January 5, 2017 from a wonderful dream in which I had a great talk with Congressman K. Mark Takai who I became friends with while I was a student government leader at the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa (ASUH) and Mark was a young newly elected politician in the Hawaii State House of Representatives. In my dream, Mark and I were talking in his old townhouse in Waiau, Pearl City on Oahu, Hawaii.  We were smiling and laughing like the times when we first met.

At one point we were lying down and staring at the ceiling as we chatted.  It was like before I got elected into the Hawaii State House of Representatives, which distanced our relationship because I was part of the faction aligned with Hawaii House Speaker Calvin K.Y. Say, a family friend and friend of my late grandfather Maurice Karamatsu.  Speaker Say married the daughter of grandpa Karamatsu’s really close friend Stephen Kotake, founder of Kotake Shokai, an import company, and a leader at Jodo Shu Hawaii with my grandfather.  I became good friends with Speaker Say, and I know that was hard on Mark because his faction was trying to take over the House from him.

Well in my dream, Mark and I were friends like before the whole political faction issue.  Prior to Mark passing away on July 20, 2016, I had called his cell phone and left a heartfelt message for him.  I’m not sure if he listened to it.  I’m hoping that he did.  It’s for this reason that I never felt closure with Mark because I wanted him to know that I really enjoyed our times together and that I cared deeply for him as my friend even though we ended up in opposite political factions.  In my dream, it felt so good because I knew that the politics didn’t matter anymore to him – all that mattered was our friendship.  That was the talk I wanted to have before Mark passed away.  I miss him.

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Lost In A Forest


Lost in a forest.

Rain washes away my tears.

Whispers – I love you

– Jon Riki Karamatsu, 1/2/2017, Haiku #53 –

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My dream is to take you by the hand and dance with you on stage in front of tens of thousands of people as I play a set.


My dream is to take you by the hand and dance with you on stage in front of tens of thousands of people as my friend DJ G-Spot and I play a set. This fun song “Recess” by Golden Coast would be one of the songs in my set. I’m not sure who you’ll be but I got a target date of 2017 or 2018!

Love Festival Hawaii 2014

Picture of the high technology and special effects stage at the 16th Annual Love Festival Hawaii on 9/27/2014.

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I’ll Only Play This Game With You.


Because it’s true, I’ll only play this game with you.

“Game 4 U” by St. Lucia.

 

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