Hello everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been out for two weeks. It has been a doozy and I’m tucked underneath a layer of bed sheets right now in my cozy room munching on golden jack fruit. Feeling tired might be an understatement. Stream of consciousness is all I can muster right now. 😉
My brother graduated from college with a degree in environmental engineering. Words cannot express how proud I am. On the day of, there was a tornado alert in the area, pouring rain was beating down on our car windshield, temporary hail pellets hit certain areas of town. There was no notice of postponement of the commencement event, so we slowly drove on the highway to our destination, an athletics stadium on campus.
Ride the storm. Cheer wildly. Gather strength from life’s storms.Jonathan Lockwood Huie
When we arrive, we were checked by two metal detectors which made me wonder about all the precautions that have to be taken considering all the mass shootings in the nation. The thought of it made me feel a bit somber though safer, and these rows of security guards at the entrances made me feel a sense of awe.
We took our seats far up and back as the live brass band was playing in the background. I munched on some almonds as I listened to the commencement speeches. There were three wonderful speakers:
- The first was a beautiful young lady who reminisced about who experiences during college and concluded with a message of kindness and gratitude.
- The second was a young man who was determined to build an Iron Man suit and shared with the audience some of his life lessons of preparation.
- The third and final speaker was an engineering professor who shared a powerful story of what happens when you fearlessly respond with “yes and if” to life’s great opportunities. We also got to see a fun clip of him playing in a blue grass band.
Engineers. Problem-solvers. They never cease to amaze me. I left that stadium feeling inspired. Tons of pictures with friends and family. Then onto the grad party next day. A feast takes a lot of work especially when you decide to do it at home instead of a restaurant. Time management works towards your advantage as event planning can be seen as an operation of sorts.
Preparing for an Extravaganza
Mom and I woke up early morning, 6 am and 7 am respectively, and began cooking, cleaning, prepping while everyone was running errands for supplies. We invited a variety of guests with a variety of dietary needs. We created a buffet with several dishes filling up our dining table throughout the morning and afternoon:
- Banh hoi – rice vermicelli woven into intricate bundles with chopped scallions or garlic chives sauteed in oil typically served with a complementary meat dish and either soy sauce or a homemade fish sauce
- Crab and Asparagus Soup – filled with other fresh ingredients of quail eggs, ginger, chicken
- Glass Noodle Stir Fry – translucent noodles fried with chicken and tons of veggies
- Xoi lac xua – Steamed peanut sticky rice with coconut milk
- Fried chicken, grilled pork, jumbo shrimp, and beef
- Fried rice- using a new technique mom learned from a friend
- Fruit trays – watermelon, jackfruit, grapes
- Che Thai fruit cocktail– sweet dessert filled with gelatin, chia seeds, longan fruit
- Che Dau Van – Vietnamese Lentil bean dessert
- Fresh spring rolls – vermicelli, pork, lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, carrots, crunchy egg roll with a peanut butter sauce
My brother and I tested the audio system he borrowed for karaoke by singing a few fun duets such as “Aladdin’s A Whole New World” and a variety of other Disney songs.
I arranged citronella candles to repel bugs on the tables and set up chairs and tables outside while dad mowed the yards. We strategically placed a variety of ice chests around the house: filled with beer, soda, water, fruit drinks. Wine bottles were ready to go. I arranged and cut fresh flowers to put in vases and cleaned up the house with a wide array of cleaning products. There was fresh towels and soap in the restrooms. I clean up the guest bedroom for the guests that want to take a nap. (which wasn’t going to include me!) 🙂
We all eventually took a shower to wash away our sweat, mud, flour, food coloring. I freshened up my face with makeup, styled my hair, and donned on a pretty red, black, and white floral dress that hugged my body. I suddenly became a hostess along with the rest of my family members as we welcomed our guests.
It was my job to make sure everyone was well-fed serving as waitress and scanning the rooms to anticipate needs. Refilling drinks, inquiring about food allergies, offering napkins, utensils, picking up trash, etc. Though I’m fairly reserved, I can be quite a conversationalist. I walked around and outside the house chatting to everyone making sure no one felt left out. I learned more about their studies, work, interests, and hobbies. It seemed to be a networking activity as well as I gave out job referrals and we exchanged information and contact information.
My brother who graduated was the emcee for the night engaging the guests in songs, rap battles, stories and shared input and feedback as to post graduation goals. He shared the good news of his three job offers, and he was weighing
My other brother was in charge of games and entertainment for young adults. He set up video games, board games, card games and managed the crowd. Activities are time flexible as we gauged the crowd’s emotions. When you get a lot of laughs from the latest trending game for instance, it’s a green light to continue. Otherwise, it’s time to move on.
Dad managed the outdoor crowd for the older adults who are more interested in slower paced activities. They sat outside in the gazebo thoughtfully engaging with questions about life and philosophy. Mom managed the group of ladies who tried on some new fashionable clothing and perfume. They chatted about the new adventures they had about motherhood and exchanged tips and advice.
By the end of the day, presents were opened and shared as we ate a delicious, light, fluffy, fruit cake that we got from Mozart’s Bakery. Our guests thanked us for the night and gradually began to leave as I bid them farewell. My sister was in charge of cleaning up as we helped her pick up trash and store the china. We finally got some shut-eye around midnight.
The day after my brother’s grad party was my birthday! This year was a small affair due to the fact I didn’t want to steal my brother’s thunder, and frankly, I was tired from the previous night. I asked my siblings if we can hang out in our living room in our pajamas, eat some leftover cake, and re-watch one of my favorite Korean dramas:
I am now 31 years old, and I’m feeling all sorts of things. My siblings and I reconnected on a deeper level which I personally felt was a dream come true. Our communication with one another improved after we spent time apart reflecting on a variety of things and life events. Reading things in the media affected how we treated each other in good and bad ways. My parents are adjusting to their “empty nest” as we are moving out of our childhood home one by one. We have wonderful stories and experiences in this house. They are getting ready to retire, as we are beginning our lives and careers.
Bus Ride Home
I treated myself to some lotions for my hard working hands and feet. I reinvested in myself by attending an inspirational career training and enrolling in a master’s program. I sat near the window of the bus pensively staring at the grasslands. I started to chat to the guy next to me when I saw an interesting t-shirt. I noticed he had only one arm. I was inspired as I listened to his thoughts and hobbies. Later at another stop, a blind man sits in front of us. I was impressed by his vision for what he wanted to accomplish in his life: owning his own business. He, too, had an inspiring story to share as I was captivated by his blue eyes. I was amazed by the company that I had during my trip. I hope to learn more from them soon!
As I reached town, I rested and joined my study group later in the evening. They treated me to a delicious wholesome birthday bowl from “The Good Kind: Modern Market and Cafe” as I designed a logo for our group and studied security issues.
Life continues, and isn’t this a lovely tropical bowl!? 😀