Experiencing Life Through Travel: NYC

I know this post has been a long time coming and I apologize. I have just been really involved in personal issues and life in general. The recent election is something I’m not going to discuss in this post – I’m incredibly drained from the political and human drama of the moments. Instead, I’m going take this opportunity to talk about my recent trip to the Big Apple.

Continue reading “Experiencing Life Through Travel: NYC”

Recipe for a Strong Woman

A strong woman, they say
Forged in the fires of pain
Feeling the salt and blood of rivers
Flowing down the cracks in her skin
Through the warmth that keeps
Her living, slowly becoming her veins

Continue reading “Recipe for a Strong Woman”

The Universe I want to Live In and the Beauty of Nature

Let me start, once again, by the wonder invoked in me by an art exhibit as pictured below:

Kusama Exhibit MFAH

A room of floating lights, a platform surrounded by water, and only a minute and a half to enjoy the wonder of being suspended amongst the stars. A minute and a half that completely captured the kind of Universe I want to live in. A minute and a half of complete joy in the wonder of the human imagination.

Continue reading “The Universe I want to Live In and the Beauty of Nature”

Dreams VS Reality

In the land of Dreams, it seems that you have once again become the source of all my glee. Everything I remember about you that was good rolled together in one scene, like when you and I once seemed to fit together so well. In the dreams, we make each other laugh and feel joy in one another, even though time has moved forward and you have not. Even in these dreams, you never chase me or reach out to me first. In fact, you just smile and laugh happily because I complain to you that you don’t but somehow, I still don’t let you go and we are happy…somehow. When I wake up, I feel fluffy like I’m on a cloud and everything is good in life. And then, I remember you as you really are. I remember you the way you were at the end and I feel as though I betray myself every time I dream of you. I feel as though the only way I’m at peace is if I’m at peace with you but that will never happen again, not in the waking dream that I call life. Will you never let me feel peace again?

Continue reading “Dreams VS Reality”

Of food, friends, and music

Hi y’all. Sorry for no updates recently. Quite honestly, I was struggling with a few things and wasn’t sure how to proceed. Personally, once I allow things to simmer on low heat in the melting pot that is my brain, I normally get the answer I’m looking for. My answer this time around is to talk about all the things that stood out to me on my recent adventures around Houston.

First of all, let me be perfectly clear. I am completely and unapologetically a foodie. If you are expecting a healthy food experience, please be warned. I enjoy food too much to limit myself to what is good for me. I am always in the search for my next tastebud adventure and recently I found a place that is just to my taste. I won’t go all Yelp review on you guys but I can tell y’all that this was one of the most satisfying food experiences I have had in this incredibly multicultural environment that provides us all with a huge variety of culinary experiences.

The name is Snowflake Cafe and Bakery. Unassuming but cute, as is the place itself pictured below.

20160331_19091520160331_19074520160331_19093420160331_19084520160331_190757

A comfortable, colorful, warm interior greets you as you enter and look around. The menu is hand written in chalk. The wall art is both unique and precious. There is an upstairs area with a pool table and a darts board. The staff are ready to help and provide any information you may need. In short, it is the perfect haven for a person like myself.

The food, however was the real star of the show. We had a variety of crepes, coffees and a sandwich. They even offer high tea, not something common to Houston. The crepes were delicious, the sandwich scrumptious and the coffee was well worth my while. Having my friend there to share the experience was the best part. And the service was superb. We stayed past closing time and they never even said a word. Absolutely adored this place and will be returning some time soon!

20160331_193830
Hazelnut Latte with a HEART SHAPED SPOON! Too cute!

 

20160331_235932
Our delicious crepes!
20160331_193923
My perfect sandwich and delicious latte!

My next adventure was just as flavored but wasn’t an accomplice for my taste buds. This is a recollection of a unique nature. I had the privilege of attending a musical performance that attempted to combine classical Indian music with Western classical music. The performance was in the James Turrell Skyspace at the Rice University campus. The building itself lent a singular ambience to the performance. What made it even more extraordinary was the lighting that accompanied the “In Observance of Dusk – Evening Triptych” doctoral recital of Shane Monds. I was one of the lucky last two to be allowed into the, at this point, standing space only performance and it was totally worth the hour long wait in line.

20160410_145255

20160406_210254
This line was a lot longer. There were about 200 people inside and another hundred or so in line, as well as a few dozen who decided to take advantage of the grass fields outside.
20160406_205732
View of the Skyspace
20160406_215905
Musicians playing the eclectic chords as the lighting enhances the music, also allowing for a peek of the sky.

The experience was quite memorable. I lost myself in the music over and over. Though there were crossover parts I didn’t really love, there were moments where I could imagine a classical Indian dancer dancing to the music. It was definitely a great night. I can only imagine where the soon-to-be Doctor Monds will take us next!

What made both of these experiences even better was the fact that I had the company of my wonderful friends with me on both occasions. My best friend accompanied me to the cafe and my sister took me with her to the concert. Love them both!

All in all, I feel blessed to have these people in my life and the opportunity to explore such a hot pot of culture. H-town represent!

The Little Things

I realize this is my second post today but I’m feeling fairly prolific at the moment. And this moment won’t be denied. So here it is.

The little things in life sometimes mean more than the more obvious and seemingly more important things. Let me illustrate.

My sister is an amazing person. She works hard, thinks deep, could probably win Jeopardy, loves pandas and the outdoors, takes amazing photographs and has a tendency to be a night owl. All of these things and many more make her who she is. She is also so very kind and generous that she has had to build a wall to protect herself from the cruelty of a world that tramples kindness and takes great advantage of generosity.

But the little things she does for me really mean so much to me. She brightens up my days with a series of little surprises that keep me grateful for having a sister like her. She did it again today and really brought a smile to my face. I would like to share some of these little things she has gotten me that nean so much to me with all of you.

Let me start with this:

20160328_193015
Beautiful cacti
20160328_193057
My terrarium…sorry for the bad lighting

This, my friends, is the sweet little terrarium my sister built especially for me. I absolutely adore it! Just look at that vibrant cactus flower and the other artistically arranged cacti! Totally love it (and her of course).

Going further, I present to you exhibit B:

20160328_193659
Yes, I am a proud Who! I’m 11th Doctor will always have both my hearts ❤❤

She was so generous she bought me both the 11th Doctor from Doctor Who and Deadpool!!!! As is apparent, I am a bug fan of both the characters and the people who portray them. I was incredibly delighted to receive both!

Today, she surprised me with these beauties:

20160328_194143
Left: intricately embroidered cloth cover notebook. Right: an adorable story of a kitten 😍

I am seriously in love with journals and notebooks and pens and nice paper…you get the picture. However, I don’t normally splurge on any of it because I am practical enough to realize that I don’t use it on a normal basis. I love leather bound journals and unique and artistic notebooks, so this was the best of surprises. Pictured on the left above is a gorgeous little notebook bound in thick embroidered cloth and held together by a wooden spine. The pages inside are good quality as well. I am going to preserve it forever. It’s soooo cute.

my-precious-meme-4893
If you are a LOTR fan you will understand 😁

Next to the fantastically gorgeous notebook above is a little storybook about a kitten that didn’t want to let the owner knit mittens. I swear I died and went to soft kitty heaven. It’s so skdhrieokngueomgn Adorable!!!! 😄

All of these little things are Things, but I see all the love and care and thoughtfulness put into each and every one of these and today I just wanted to appreciate all she does and is. There are many other things she has gifted me with but, for me, the greatest gift of all will always be having her for a sister. Love you 4everzzzz lil sis! ❤

Ebbs and flows

Depression, for me, is a combination of apathy and self hate. It is a dwelling upon singular instances that become my entire existence. It is an amplification of every negativity I have ever been the perpetrator of or perceived myself as being responsible for. It is the reaching out of the past grabbing me in the present. It is the crushing weight of my perceived failures when, really, they were all simply lessons I had to learn.

Time seems to ebb and flow like waves gently rolling in to a sandy beach on a sunny day. Other days it passes by in a blur, so fast it is gone in a flash. Sometimes, it seems to fold in upon itself as the past reaches out to grab the present, intending to influence the future.

Some people like time is a linear line that goes straight forward from point A to B. They have a set plan for everything they do, not realizing that only works until life throws a curveball and sets you off the predicted trajectory. Some people get stuck on a singular moment in their lives, forgetting to live the moment they are in now. They lose all the opportunities that come to them in their grief, in their shock, in the longing for a reality that no longer exists. Yet others seem to treat time like a joke. Its nuances and expectations hold no interest for them. They live only in the moment, never planning a single thing, never moving forward, never remembering a lesson learned.

Most people experience a little of all these different aspects of time. They plan for the future. They live in the moment from time to time. They grieve over a loss they suffered occasionally. All of those things are normal. It is only when one gets focused on just the one aspect of an incredibly intricate series of events that become a life story that they stop living.

Death becomes an escape from the sheer monotony of one’s apathetic existence. It seems to be the only road left to walk on when the darkness shallows you whole. The demons that live inside rejoice when the inclination to live, to love, to allow that you are worth loving, to grow, to change, to Be ceases to be. They proclaim the only relief to be found is in the arms of death. They assure me that it will be a relief for everyone else in my life too. They will finally be free of suffering me.

I have learned over time that life goes on. Whatever is crushing us in this moment will one day become a bearable memory some day, if only we have the strength to continue. That strength doesn’t come just from oneself. It comes from the friends that are with you through it all. It comes from the family you were lucky enough to either be born to or have built yourself. It comes from faith and hope. 

Time waits for no one. It marches on even when the world is ending and you don’t think you will ever breathe the same again. It goes on even when there is not a shred of light in your life. It keeps going when the most horrendous things happen. Change is not a deterrent for time. It is simply the result of times passing. Time passes by stagnation as easily as it passes by entropy. 

It doesn’t matter what life you live or who you are. There is one truth that gives me strength and I hope it will give hope to anyone else suffering from heartbreak or depression.

Life is change. This too will pass. I promise.

Bombing…

Bombing, bombing everywhere
Kill them all, instill fear
In the name of God, you say?
When you were all killers anyway

I weep for you, victims of this blight
I weep for you, who lose your light
I weep for you, who lost it all
I weep for you, whose futures were stolen

You who say this is in the way of God
You are the very evil you speak of
Satan, devil, devil spawn
Live inside you in your own form

These lives you keep taking so lightly
The joy you keep erasing so blithely
The rivers of blood, all the youth dead
They aren’t enough to pacify your rage

The world isn’t at fault, it is You
The innocents you killed deserved so much better than you
The homes you destroyed, the lives you ended
They will never return, their souls forever cursing you

Hell to the unbelievers you say
Hell to the inhuman heathens you are I say
My religion is the Way of Peace, not your bastard faith
I hate you for sullying the name of God this way

Bombing won’t get you anywhere
It won’t land you in Heaven, I swear
But understand that Muslims everywhere
Despise you, wishing ruin on your prayers

To all of you who don’t think your pain I can imagine
Know that these people have killed my people too
They don’t care for the value of life or their own principles
They have no idea what real Muslims do

We must suffer for the actions of these unschooled fanatics
These thugs and criminals wearing the face of Islam
But know that you cannot hate them as much as I
For the many lives destroyed in the name of my God

I weep for the loss of the innocent
I weep for the loss of human potential
I weep for the loss of families
I weep most for the loss of humanity

Cake Magic

I had a really long, tough day at work today. I got home feeling like a zombie, run over and killed and then run over again for good measure. I got home ready to collapse into a grumpy mess. But a really sweet gesture from a really wonderful friend turned my night around in an instant.

I present to you my friend Monique Pham’s blog, a testament to her culinary poweress and a great place for amazing recipes! 

In my head, she is the Baking Queen, a sweet sister and an extremely thoughtful friend. Today, when I was ready for my horrible day to stretch into a horrible night, she did something incredibly sweet – she brought me a cake she had baked earlier today. And it wasn’t just any cake either. I give you the Spring Cake, as beautiful as it is delicious!

20160319_190800
Gorgeous spring cake, complete with chocolate,flowers and edible herbs! Noms!!!

This gorgeous creation is one in a long line of many innovative, delicious, aesthetically outstanding culinary achievements.

She has made many cakes, tarts, truffles and macaroons in the years I have had the pleasure of her company but occasionally she out does herself as evidenced below by the few I have stopped to take a picture of before diving headfirst into the bliss that is her baking.

I simply don’t enjoy anyone else’s cake as much anymore. I have good reason not to. Look at all these goodies in this screenshot from her Instagram @momobakescake. Please do show her some love if you love what you see as much as I do!

20160319_205127

Monique, I know this blog wasn’t written with your knowledge but I just had to tell the world how amazing you are. Thank you dear friend, you and your love of food have really brought so much light into my life. Your love and caring really makes our lives so much brighter. Thank you!

For all you foodies, order a cake or two from her. She bakes a large variety of other desserts too. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

A Second Cup, A Second Chance

Of second chances and coffee, and the different sides of human nature.

Many Houstonians may be unaware of this but Houston, and Texas in general, is the largest center for human trafficking in the States. Why am I bringing this up today? I suppose it might be because I know what it is like to be thought of as property and an investment rather than a person and a human being. 

Thankfully, I do not carry the scars of the molested and the raped and enslaved. But I know people who do. As a woman and as a human, the thought that somewhere near me at this very moment many people are being treated like cattle for sale, as though they carry no thoughts of their own, as though their lives and their stories do not matter and they exist only to please their sick masters…it makes my blood boil.

I imagine myself or my loved ones helpless, held captive, taken somewhere strange, used and abused by my jailors and their customers. I imagine the loss of hope and the embrace of the dark despair that resides in every soul as it holds tight and refuses to let mrgo, much like the horrible excuses for human beings subjecting me to that torture. I imagine being a pet, or less than a pet, kept barely alive and unaware of where I am, eventually forgetting everything from Before and forcing myself into believing I was willingly involved in this just to keep my sanity. I imagine being grateful for any morsel thrown my way. I imagine wanting death over life. I imagine giving up. 

I imagine all this and am grateful that I am not in that position. To all of you who have been through this inhumane ordeal, I do not know the scars you carry but I do know that if you were strong enough to survive it all, someday you will be strong enough not only to survive but to thrive. There are many people out there who can and do exploit others for their greed, their malice, their petty pride. On the other end of the spectrum,however, are people who cannot understand why anyone would be so horrible to another human being. They simply want to help heal. Some of them have been through what you went through or are going through. I know that it isn’t easy to accept help or trust in the words of a stranger, but the other side of humanity does exist. Some day, you will come to know that. Until then, there are places for you to go and find solace. I visited one of these locations recently and received comfort of my own.

Unimpressive from the outside, “A Second Cup” is a cafe run by volunteers who do everything from make coffee and food to clean, trying to help survivors of human trafficking with all the proceeds from sales. In addition, they help spread the word that help is out there; an entire wall is dedicated to groups that help everyone from young children to adults.

Comfort is evident in the many colors, both bright and mute, the couches and tables placed meticulously in a spacious room. Even the bathroom door has words of encouragement. Another feature that isn’t common in other cafes is that they have a fully functional shower. For those feeling threatened or those who haven recently been  rescued, this is a huge source of comfort. Knowing there is somewhere you can go and just relax after the constant hostility of survival in a brutal environment is the greatest feeling of all. 

Some of the volunteers at the cafe are survivors themselves who have gathered enough courage to help others. To top it all off, they make great coffee as evidenced in the picture below. May I say that it was delicious enough that I am still thinking about it more than a week later…

20160318_131710
Hazelnut Latte, yummy!

A Second Cup is tangible evidence that second chances do come around and that you can and should take advantage of them. 

Not only was the experience refreshing, it left a lasting impression on me. If any of you are ever in the Houston area, be sure and stop by Second Cup. Maybe someday, somewhere, someone else will help you with your second chance too!