Posted in Culture, fiction

Tell The Story Challenge – A Date and A Thrill

The Dark Netizen has tagged me in a challenge created by Eclectic Contrarian. I would tell a story based on the photo that the tagger gives me.

The doorbell rang.

Sophia looked out the front window and saw Dwayne standing there with a mixed bouquet behind his back. She opened the door, “Hi Dwayne! What’s up?”

Behind his cool demeanor, Dwayne was actually nervous to see Sophia.
Over the past few months, he would see her design costumes for the Syfy network as he dropped off audio equipment on the horror sets she worked at. He was instantly enamored by her spunky personality as she instructed her team of stylists on how to create a convincing bloody face that was aggressively scratched by a werewolf.

“Well Sophia, these are for you, and I was wondering if you’d like go check out this Steampunk Escape Room in town…with me of course.” Dwayne silently wondered where his swagger was now as he waited for her response. His extended arms trembled underneath the bouquet.

Sophia graciously took the bouquet. This man knew her tastes. So thoughtful! Candied skulls in the center of the flowers. Who would have thought? “An escape room sounds awesome! I love to go with you!”

She decided to invite him inside. “Would you to come in for a glass of Moloko Plus? I just created this drink from “A Clockwork Orange” after finding a recipe that involves some whole milk, orange vanilla vodka, Irish cream, and orange extract.”

Dwayne marveled to himself, “Did I just find my dream girl?” He grinned and winked, “Sure, I’d like to be the guinea pig to try this out with you!”

Kristian from Tales from the Mind of Kristian also tagged me for the picture below.

It was the best birthday present ever!

Khloe stared at her shiny new driver license that arrived in the mail. A bright face smiled back at her. “You did it, girl!” After failing the test to obtain her license twice, she finally passed. Filled with glee, she spun around and lept in the air. “3rd time is the charm, isn’t it?

Her instructor always told her to slow down as he sat in the passenger seat fearing for his life. Khloe always imagined that she would one day be a professional NASCAR driver. Now, she’s one step closer to that dream! She revved up daddy’s jeep as he took a nap, and decided to take it for a little ride.

She drove out to the beach 15 minutes away, and she was excited to see an empty coast line. “Great! Free open space!” She rolled down the window feeling the fresh breeze. She looked in her side mirror, and a familiar car pulls up next to her.

“HEY KHLOE! Follow me!” It was her friend Jeannette who recently got her license as well. Khloe hit on the breaks and took a sharp a hard U-turn.

It’s the best day of my life!

Suddenly, menacing dark clouds roll in. A thunderstorm is forming off in the distance.

Posted in Concepts, Crafts, Culture, Dance, Events, flashback, Food/Recipes, Makeup

Eclectic Days of My Life: Part 1

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been present for the past few weeks. February was just one of those busy months where I wondered exactly how I got involved with so much. “Eclectic Days of My Life” is a chronicle of my recent tales which I broke into two parts! I tend to have phases in my life where I unplug from a few technological devices, live life to the fullest, and then write about my tales afterwards. Here’s a “table of contents” for my recent adventures! 😀

Part 1
1. Lunar New Year (2/1-2/6)
2. “Made For More” Retreat (2/7)
3. Infinity Expo (2/9)
4. Hosting a Sushi Making Party (2/10)

Part 2
5. Cybersecurity Job Fair (2/13)
6. Valentine’s Day (2/14)
7. PopCon2019 (2/16)
8. Friend’s Anniversary Party (2/16)

  1. Lunar New Year
Bus going through Austin, TX

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen my family. I was really excited to see them again and spend quality time. On the bus ride, I decided to write in my journal for five hours straight. I wanted to see what the stream of consciousness would produce and where my mind and imagination would take me as I stared out at the fields of grass rows of skyscrapers. I explored my past, politics, my philosophical coursework, animal rights, personality types, international affairs, gift giving. 😊 Daydreaming at my best I suppose. I like that travelling in buses give me the chance to do that.

It was a warm family welcome. Mom had made a delicious bowl of Bun Bo Hue (vermicelli soup with fried tofu and beef) for dinner and I cracked opened a coconut and enjoyed the cool refreshing juice. After dinner we began making banh chung together as a family. I fold the banana leaves to create a box of sorts and put in in a wooden mold to create a square structure. I begin putting the colored rice, mung bean or peanuts, and marinated pork. I wrap it up in foil and pat it down to fill the mold. We got the steamer ready and waited for the water to boil.

As we waited, my brother introduced us to fun card game called The Mind that was developed by a German game maker, Wolfgang Warsch. Guessing what cards my siblings may have by reading body language prove quite difficult. We made it to level six out of twelve! We called it a night after three rounds. I wore this knitted puppet who brought some laughs in this intense game.

The next evening we went out to Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie, TX. Celebrations and entertainment occur here for six days. Parking was packed. It took my brother and I 30 minutes to find parking at night, so it’s best to come early! The size of the crowd was dense. In the morning, there’s usually dances and shows of firecrackers.

https://visitdfw.com/asia-times-square-new-year/

Like Christmas, there’s plenty of light displays outside the plaza. Food vendors have set up stands or parked their trucks outside. It’s a good time for their businesses! There’s was a long line where the average wait time is 30 minutes.The funnel cake and kabobs were delicious.

Indoors, there were lion/dragon dances parading in the lobbies to the beat of the drummers banging away on drums half their size. People tip the teenagers who wear the dragon costumes who do tricks. Singers captivate the audience.

We walked inside the plaza exploring. I checked out various things that were out on display: dresses, K-pop posters, toys, flowers, food. Various institutions set up tables as well to advertise themselves: police/fire department, various non-profit groups, politicians.

After a few hours, we drove over to another plaza called Ben Thanh a few minutes down the street. Stores are decorated with several flowers. The singers sing traditional music that appeals to many of the masses with their lyrics. Cashiers at the grocery store give you raffle tickets towards a drawing for a brand new car each day you shop there. You can also buy each ticket for one dollar. Mom collected 8 tickets for me to place inside a large plastic container on stage. A woman told the audience that roughly 42,000 tickets were sold.

Two emcees periodically pulled tickets out of the container to award gift certificates to restaurants throughout the night. While listening to the beautiful music, I chatted to a man next to me while waiting for the results. He talked about how he felt when Vietnam was taken over by the Communist regime. A few tears sprung from his eyes when his son expressed interest in visiting Vietnam to learn more about his heritage. He said that he would never go back, but out of his love for his son, he decided to buy plane tickets for both of them. I learned about his experiences of raising children in America, his academic accomplishments in engineering, his views on music and culture. When the emcee finally called out the winner of the car, my heart almost stopped when he called out Sa Lee. It was another woman’s number. Now I know how the people in Willa Wonka felt with the golden tickets! 🙂 The older gentlemen wished me good luck in my endeavors as we bid each other good night.

The next morning, my family got ready to attend mass service at the church. My mother and I ironed our ao dai dresses as we got ready. After we arrived, there was a full house in the church as we listened to the priest talk about loving others. The main hall was beautifully decorated with flowers, red envelopes, blossoming branches.

After the service, we headed to the auditorium where we ate our meals as we listened to the entertainment and kids played at the carnival games. I reconnected with former Sunday school teachers and friends who I haven’t seen in years.

Monday morning, one of my brothers took me to a Korean plaza that has developed in Carrollton after I finished weeding the garden. It was such a beautiful day outside. There was a wonderful bakery called “85 degrees Celsius”. Everything smelled wonderful. I got an egg tart and a cheesecake pastry though I was tempted to get some pretty slices of cake. I know that my eyes can get bigger than my stomach, so I refrained.

We walked over to the bookstore next door. I loved the book collection, stationery, cards, pins, toys, pens. I spent some time admiring the book covers which immediately caught my attention. We chatted about his accomplishments at the library that he works at. I felt proud of the fact that he turned the library into a cool hangout spot for the teenagers he mentors. The city awarded him for his service.

My brother and I parted ways as he left me to explore the Japanese dollar shop. He was going to meet up with a friend. I did take some time exploring my surroundings and the objects that were on sale. It looked pristine and organized. Later that evening, I got a haircut at my aunt’s salon and reconnected with her. I loved my new hair style!

Next morning, mom woke me up to begin making another treat: banh bao (steamed buns). I began kneading the flour for half an hour reflecting on the past few days. Mom was sauteing the seasoned meat and boiling the eggs. When we were done prepping everything, I took a rolling pin, dusted it with flour, and flattened a piece of dough so that we could put the meat and eggs in there. We sealed the bun up with a twist so that it could look like a flower bud and place it on some wax paper so that it won’t stick to the metal steamer. I always learn so much from my mom as I’m cooking and baking alongside from her. She has such a knack for it, I once suggested the idea of opening a restaurant, but she didn’t want to deal with the level of stress with that pursuit.

Later that afternoon, after we were done steaming the buns. We decided to make some food deliveries to friends. First stop was my sister. When she moved out to her own place, she has new guests try out her yoga wheel which has significantly helped her back problems from a car accident. I got to see her artwork and doodles and felt proud of her recent accomplishments.

Later that evening, my other brother gave me a tour of the new library they built in my hometown after the city closed down the old branches. The books gave me a sense of comfort as I entered unfamiliar settings. I began browsing the shelves and examined the new amenities like a 3-D printer.

When we arrived back home, the President’s 2nd State of the Union Address was on TV. My family was worn out from the days activities, and called it a night. I tuned in and decided to listened. I felt like he was exaggerating the issues and the statistics that he uses are taken out of context that could affect the audience’s understanding of the big picture.

When I see women shaking their heads in the audience about health issues, I thought about articles I read in Ms.Magazine which offered perspectives as to why they might be feeling dismayed. In my regards to immigration, I thought about when he talked about how it is cruel to be tolerant of illegal immigration. I thought about his comments about the economy, foreign policy, laws on incarceration, antisemitism, nuclear energy.

2. Made for More

Where do we come from and where are we going? These questions are DECISIVE for understanding what it means to be human and how to orient our lives and our actions toward authentic fulfillment. Join Christopher West and Mike Mangione as they creatively weave together dynamic presentations with live music, movie clips, popular YouTube videos, and sacred art for an evening of beauty and reflection on the meaning of life, love, and human destiny. You will come away with a faith-filled vision of hope that will instill in you the sheer wonder and joy of being alive…

The Cor Project

My boyfriend’s mother invited me to retreat called “Made for More: Visions of the Promised Land” held in Corpus Christi, TX. Christopher West presents the dense material of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” in a language that appeals to the average person. Matt Mangione is a musician and song writer who weaves theological truths into poetic narrative. It interested me because I wanted to develop a more positive vision for my future in spite of the news that I watch and read often.

It was a two hour car drive to Corpus Christi. My boyfriend uploads a podcast from Conlangery about “converbs“. I was fascinated by the talk about the construction of clauses. Afterward, I uploaded a podcast called “Cisco Systems & Urban Decay: Sandy Lerner from Castbox. Interviewer Guy Raz asked some intriguing questions, and we were both hooked by the fascinating story behind the origins of routing technology company and the makeup company. It’s inspiring for me to hear the story about a female programmer navigating the tech industry.

Statue of Mary peacefully looking over the courtyard

Before we knew it, we arrived at the church where it was already packed. We sat in the far back row where there was room for exactly two people. I listened to Christopher as he mentioned the concept of your worth in Toy Story as the toys are being tossed into the trash. He showed a video clip from Les Miserables. The point of redemption where Father Carl forgives Jean Valjean for stealing the chalices from the building. My boyfriend is covering my ears for all the spoilers the speaker mentioned. I haven’t watched it, but someday I will since it’s a classic. There was another scene he shared from the TV show Cheers, where a girl is asking her father for his blessing as she wants to get married. She wants her father to truly “see” her as she really is.

Pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows by William Morris in St Michael and All Angels Church

He mentioned some things about the architecture of church buildings and how it’s arranged to focus on Jesus Christ. I thought of the mathematics in involved in making stained glass windows as I am captivated by the designs. He talked about the symbolism behind the feminine mystique of the flowers in the church which left me in a dazed state. I just thought of flowers as beautiful decorations to help bring peace to the members with its beauty, nothing more. He segwayed into a discussion about gender roles. The bride of the church. Specific characteristics of why only men are priests and women are nuns. I think about the differences between sex and gender, and choices

3. Infinity Expo

I found this event while scrolling through Eventbrite. Various topics in the description caught my attention.

Spend a day at The Infinity Expo where a venue will be transformed into a bustling town of fashion, rhythm, glamour, art, culture and a marketplace featuring some of the latest and exciting brands from vendors across the country. Presented at The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tx, a lavish and beautiful haven will emerge taking inspiration from a bygone era and into the 21st century.

Fashion Gallery
Experience a unique fashion presentation where mannequins and display windows come to life.

The Skin Deep Beauty Forum
It’s been said that beauty is only skin deep. Is it? Venture into the depth of beauty with the Skin Deep Beauty Forum where fashion, beauty and wellness experts explore the definition of beauty, self-care, body image, wellness and how it applies to our everyday lives. With an overarching message centered on the importance in maintaining a healthy relationship with your own beauty, The Skin Deep Beauty Forum is designed to inspire, uplift and encourage you to discover and rediscover your own beauty.

The Fashion Opera

The entrance to the convention center is quite stunning with its bold architecture. I enjoy the glass structures in the lobby that are like interlocking mini pyramids.

I enjoyed slowly reading the messages made with an assortment of metal signs.

I believe I came too early because I saw the models were still applying makeup behind the stage, so I walked around the booths and chatted to the vendors. I mainly chatted to a woman who is an HR professional who was promoting her book, “Do You Want the Job or Not?” She shared some tips on pursuing a new career.

4. Sushi Party

Last year, a friend became my study buddy and helped me get through the challenges of one of our IT classes dealing with advanced database design. Forever grateful for her help, I decided to host a sushi party to teach her and her family how to make their own sushi. I was pretty excited as I sifted through a huge box filled with supplies in her kitchen.

I set up bamboo mats on the dining table and asked her family members to help me prepare the food to go inside the sushi. Many hands make the work light. The rice was warming on the stove, cucumbers and avocados were being finely chopped, cream cheese were cut into cylindrical blocks, crab meat was being pulled apart. It was so much fun seeing them have fun roll their own sushi rolls for the first time. The kids enjoyed it. The mothers put it on the Facebook storyline which went viral. Now, it looks like I’m booked for another sushi party gig next month for a youth group!

Photo Credit: Pixabay
Posted in Culture, Events, Food/Recipes

Back from festivities!

Hey everyone! Hope you are taking care of yourselves well today! Where does the time go? I’m back in town, and finished unpacking my belongings. This past week flew by quickly. Though we’ve each had our challenges, celebrating lunar new year with my family was a blast this year!

Had mini adventures literally every day I was back in my hometown area. Made a big batch of 60 bánh bao (steamed buns) from scratch which a flour dough patty that wraps a mixture of onions, hard boiled eggs, mushrooms, onion, jicama, sausage. I also made some bánh chưng which is a traditional rice cake made from glutinous rice, mung bean/peanuts, and marinated pork wrapped up in banana leaves and then steamed.

One of my brothers gave me a tour of the Korean plaza that recently developed. I enjoyed the bakery, the bookstore, Japanese dollar store, H-mart which reminds me of a Whole Foods market. My other brother gave me a tour of the new facilities at the public library that was recently built. Seeing a 3-D printer was a novel sight along with their collections.

Visited sister’s new place in which she asks new guests to try out the yoga wheel. Got to check out her artwork as well! Dad took us to morning mass at the church and marketplace celebrations. Mom took me to visit old family friends I haven’t seen in a long time.

On my last night in town, I relaxed on the couch and decided to watch the State of the Union Address that aired. Dad decided to call it a night early, and my brother worked on homework. My other siblings were working, and mom was sleeping.

The female Democratic Congress women in the audience that sat in the left of the chamber of the House of Representatives was striking due to the white outfits they wore to call attention to women rights. I was most interested by the stories of the guests that were invited which painted a picture of certain aspects of life in America. The camera focused on varied reactions from former presidential nominees in the audience. Some slumped in their seats entrenched in thought and some listened earnestly to accomplishments. There’s division on so many issues.

On the bus heading back, I felt like a variety of other perspectives were left out and was intrigued by the analyses following after the Address. I listened to a variety of interesting podcasts and enjoying all the discussions. I went to a spiritual retreat titled Made for More with Christopher West which explored our purpose on Earth. Agreed on some things and disagreed on others.

Can’t wait to join in the fun of your tags again and catch up with your blog posts! Sharing pictures later! See you soon! ❤