It has been too long since my fingers have told the stories of my recent #adventures. Life can have many distractions, and time being a fickle creature can slip away before we even realize it. In my last travel series The Journey Home, I had found myself in the middle of Texas. The part of Texas I ended up in was the Texas one might imagine it Texas to be. One could find small rolling hills and lovely Bluebells that encompassed ranches and empty fields stretching farther than the eye could see. Of course, we did not live too far from the big city of Austin where a person could enjoy Texas city life at its finest.
Fast forward into the future and I no longer dwell in the country, but I now find myself navigating through the streets of Texas’ largest city, Houston. While I enjoy the country life, I am also enjoying my time in a large city. It has been a long time since my family, and I have lived in a city so large that a short trip could turn into an unexpectedly long trip.
I must admit it has taken some getting used to, and there have been some up and downs. I took a long break from writing but my fingers can no longer stay still, and I am back, and I am ready to share a new series with you. I hope you will enjoy and share some of your thoughts on my adventures. I look forward to being back with my brouhaha fans. Remember, you can always keep up with my on my Twitter (@budom) and other social media platforms such as Instagram, Stumbleupon, Facebook, Google+, and coming soon, Snapchat! Check out my contact page for my social media links for an easy connect. See ya’ll around.
I am ashamed to say that in all my years of living in Germany I never went to Berlin and visited the sight of the Berlin wall. It is one of the things I kick myself for not doing while I had the chance. Why didn’t I take the time to check out one of the most historical landmarks in the world? The closest I ever came to Berlin was when I went to Dresden. Dresden is about 187 kilometers (116 miles) or about a two-hour drive from Berlin. Now today is the 25th anniversary of the wall coming down and I drawn to a conversation I had about it with a German friend.
At one time Berlin was split in two, East and West. I’m not going to get into the whole history because there are plenty news article or books you can get it from. However, I’ll just summarize. The wall was built, and guards walked the border making sure that East siders did not try to head over to West where freedom lay. Finally the power of the people, as well as East Berlin’s recognition that their government system was not working as planned, opened the doors for Germans to leave if that’s what they wanted. Many stories tell of how people fled to freedom, and to families and loved one separated on the West side. But for some freedom is not just about being free but being free to make your own choices.
Not everyone left East Berlin once the walls came down. While living in Germany, I met a friend whose grandmother still lived in what was once East Berlin. When the time came to leave and be with her family on the West side, she opted to stay. Many might think why would she want to stay when she could be free? It’s easy to assume that everyone would want to leave a place that had oppressed them for many years. But that assumption would be wrong. Regardless of how we might feel or think about those who stayed when it came down to it this was their home. For some, it was the only home they ever knew.
For my friend’s grandmother, it was a life she had lived for many years. She was used to the separation of her family, but the new independence was too much for her to take in. Besides she had a simple life in East Berlin, and that’s how she wished to keep it. Now that the borders were open, and the wall that symbolized Germany’s darker history in the world was down she could visit her family whenever she wanted, or her family could visit her. I asked my friend if her grandmother was glad the wall was down. My friend replied that although her Grandmother was glad she still felt more comfortable where she lived. That’s understandable. There are many people in America who have never even left the city or state they were born and raised in, and they have always had the freedom to do so.
So the fall Berlin Wall is more than just a symbol for freedom it is a symbol of choice, and the wall coming down represents the right to make that choice. It gave many the opportunity to follow what their hearts desired, whether that is being able to leave or just making the choice to stay in the only home you’ve ever known.
Yesterday was November 1st and the start of NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is like the Boston marathon for writers. In one-month participants are challenged to write 50,000 (or more) words in 30 days. Many people constantly worry and nit pick their creations to the point that their story becomes a concept stuck in their minds. Don’t be that person. The point of the month long exercise is not to finish a novel but to just get one started period.
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”- E.L. Doctorow
There are also perks from sponsors like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Scrivener, who give free or discounted services, which aid writers who want to go further after the NaNoWriMo challenge. Plus you get cool badges and banners that help keep writers motivated and inspired throughout the intense writing period. It’s a wonderful thing, and I owe NaNoWriMo for getting me started in writing a novel as well as inspire me to create my blog site.
You are probably wondering, if you love it so much why not participate? I am not going to lie I did consider doing NaNoWriMo this year. I love the feel of keys tapping beneath my fingers, the constant need to type, and watching my story develop right before my eyes. But I digress, I only want you to remember that the key to success in this challenge is to just type. Writers (I include myself in this obsessiveness) need to stop thinking too hard on the grammar and mechanics. All that comes later in editing and rewrites.
However, this year I have decided to fine tune my manuscript, “Voices of Clara” for publication. Ironically, the story is one I wrote and finished during NaNoWriMo 2008. I was so excited when I saw how the story came together. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was my imperfect story, and I had written it in 30 days. Now it’s 2014, and I still haven’t published, “Voices of Clara“. That’s a long time to sit on a book and have it go nowhere. I don’t want my work to have been written in vain. I like the story of Clara, a young adult woman trying to figure out life and what she wants from it. While having, a few funny and heartfelt adventures and discoveries along the way. I feel that many people could relate regardless their age because we have all struggled in our early adult lives.
Now you know why I am not NaNoWriMoing this year. I encourage other writers to give it a try even if you don’t reach the 50,000-word count goal. I have seen some participants’ word counts go far past the intended goal. Hopefully, I will be able to participate next year because I love a good challenge.
It’s Not Too Late To Participate!
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo 2014? How far have you gotten in your word count? A friend of mine and established author has written over 10,000 words, and she’s only just begun.
Good luck to all the participants and I wish you all the best success in your challenges.
On October 23rd, 2014 Houston’s Stereo Live was pulsating with artists of all types from slam poets, visual artists, fashion designers, and musicians. That night I was there to see and interview singer/songwriter David Justin who just released his new single, “Supernova”. Since the single’s release earlier this year Supernova has been played on Pandora, Sirius, and BBC Radio and is steadily gaining popularity.
David is a Houston native, and upon meeting David I found him to be the down to earth guy he was described to be. His love of music grew after he was presented with his first violin lesson at the age of eight. David proceeded to teach himself the drums at age 12 and eventually picked up songwriting. He never intended to make music a career but after writing several songs while in college David decide it was time to make his mark in the world, and he did. In 2009 David was nominated as a finalist for “best original song” with the 6th annual International Acoustic Awards.
However, “Supernova” is not David’s first well received work. In 2012 David’s first album, “Speak to the World”, which included fan favorites such as “Maria”, “Covergirl”, and “Paper Heart”. David’s acoustic style music, voice, and lyrics invite the listener to relate with clearly sung lyrics. I especially like his song, “Unspoken”. His music is reminisce of singers Gavin Degraw, John Mayer, or Michael Bublé.
The night of his performance David sat down with me for a short interview before heading on stage.
Budom: How are feeling tonight? Excited? Pumped?
David:Yeah, I’m excited. There is always excitement, that’s what makes playing live so much fun.
Budom: So tonight you’re going to be playing acoustic?
David: Yeah, yeah that’s pretty much how it all started by playing acoustic and playing by myself. Of course when I am out in LA I play with a band. But then tonight I’ll be playing acoustic style, and I have a drummer who will be playing the Kahuna it’s like a beat box thing, and then my other friend will be playing the bass. It’s going to be a good change up because there is going to be another band playing a full set, and I think the people will enjoy that a lot more. The music will be a lot more raw.
Budom:I read in your bio that you started at a very young age.Was your father your biggest influence as far as getting into music or were there other influences?
David: I mean from a young age I was around music, and of course my dad was my biggest influence because he was the one around the house who played music. So without him I probably wouldn’t have chosen the path I did, and done things or learned the instruments that I learned without him. But yeah, I would definitely say that he was the main person that I looked up to.
Then throughout my teenage years I got into songwriting. When I was about 17 or 18 I got really serious about it. I wrote about 10 or 12 songs that I felt really comfortable with and proud of and I didn’t know what to do with it. I never really thought about being a recording artist. I just loved music, I loved writing, and I would play for my all my friends and family and they said, ‘you should really records these things’.
So, I started off with a little tape track like a cassette and started to record myself playing, and the more I would do that the hungrier I got to make something bigger. I ended up meeting a producer in Dallas who actually produced my first record and recorded my album.
Then about two and a half years ago I got hit up by my manager, Joe Fontaine out in Los Angeles. We started a dialogue and started talking, and his mentioned to me what he was doing and trying to accomplish. Joe said he actually knew some producers and songwriters in Los Angeles. So he asked me to fly out and I flew out. I did a session or two and things went really well. We recorded some songs and I ended up signing a deal with him.
I have been flying back and forth maybe every two to three months going out there just writing and recording. It’s really been a fun experience. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’m starting to meet a lot of people in the industry. It’s good being out there and then being able to come back home and play shows where I can play to almost two different audiences.
Budom: Yes, two different types of demographics and types of people?
David: Yes, yes, it really is. Because different people respond to the songs differently, and that what’s really exciting, seeing how people respond and connect with the songs.
Budom: You were nominated as a finalist for “best original song” with the 6th annual International Acoustic Music Awards. How did that feel? Did you expect that or was it like “wow” after getting the nomination?
David: (laughs) No, I didn’t. I, uh..just finished recordings some songs from my first record and I was just really trying to get a break, and get my name out there. It was actually the first contest I had ever submitted to. I was kind of leery about submitting to a song writing contest because they get thousands of entries, and you never know if they’re going to hear your song or what.
Yeah, I got a letter in the mail saying that I was a finalist and I think it was out of four or five thousand entries. It was really neat, it was kind of the first time I felt justified as a songwriter. I was up against pro songwriters and I really felt justified and excited. It really made me want to pursue more and do more.
Budom: So you mentioned that you want to build a bigger fan base in Houston. I have a teenage daughter, and I asked my youngest what type of questions she would ask if she had the chance. The first one question is: If there was someone you could collaborate with as a songwriter or singer who would you choose?
David: Hmm, that’s really tough because there’s so much talent out there. I mean it seems when I find a favorite artist then I find another favorite artist. I think that’s just the power of the Internet, and there’s so many tools to discover artist. I would definitely say I think it would be fun to collaborate with John Mayer. He’s a very versatile songwriter and musician.
Budom: Would you ever consider a collaboration out of your genre like Kesha and Pit Bull did as well as other artist?
David: Uh…No, the way I write songs I don’t usually listen to other people and think. ‘I’m going to write a song like that’. It really comes from within me I’m pretty true to myself and I don’t try to be anybody that I’m not. I try to keep it pretty pure.
Budom: Okay, last question. If you had a fandom what would they be called? Here are some examples for you Justin Bieber’s fans are “Biebers”, Lady Gaga’s are “Little Monsters”, and Taylor Swift’s fans are known as the Swifties.
David: (laughs) You know this has been an on going conversation with my manger. We’re still trying to pin point that now. I thought maybe the “Little DJs” but that’s kind of corny, you know? Or maybe the “Little Supernovas”, I don’t know that something we’re still working on. I think it’s going to be like one of those things when somebody else says something and then that’s it.
Budom: (laughs) Well, we need to get that out there. We need to see what your fandom is going to be like. That’s what we need to get a rally started on getting an idea on what to call your fandom.
David: I think so, yeah. We need to work on that. That’s actually a good question because I always think about that.
Budom: Well, David thanks so much for setting aside this time to sit here and chat with you. I look forward to seeing you on stage.
I had a wonderful time corresponding with David through social media and at the interview. He’s a musician with heart and soul and you can hear it in his music.
“It takes courage to chase your dreams and dreams to create courage, but either way I’m committed to both.”
– David Justin
David’s album “Speak to the World” and new single “Supernova” is available on iTunes. Look for the official “Supernova” video release coming soon, featuring Caitlin O’Connor(Sports Illustrated, The Gambler) and Christine Lakin(Step by Step, Melissa & Joey). Meanwhile, you can catch his “Supernova” lyric video on youtube.
“The best job I ever had.”– Sgt. Don ‘Wardaddy’ Colier from the movie Fury directed by David Ayer
I just returned from the theatre from watching ‘Fury’, which premiered Friday October 17th, and according to Variety is suspected to pull in 25 million dollars by the finish of this weekend. Some may think that ‘Fury’ is just another war movie, and maybe it is. But to the men who has served those tanks in a war this movie tells their story.
Fury, a WWII movie focuses on the decisive act of tankers who in 1945 war torn Germany decide to dig in, and hold an important position that would help defeat the German army and possibly end the war.
The war hounded and angst ridden team is led by Academy Award winning actor, Brad Pitt (12 Years A Slave, Inglorious Bastards) . Pitt, plays a man hardened by war and scarred by the missions he has led, but continues to promise his men he’ll get them home alive. Not too much later the tankers find themselves in the battle for their lives.
Shia Lebouf (Transformer, Nymphomaniac) as Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan (when focused on acting instead of antics) delivers a memorable performance as a soldier whose faith keeps him and his fellow tankers going even as they protest and tease him on his preachy ways. Michael Pena ( Battle Los Angeles, Gracepoint) and John Bernthal (The Walking Dead, The Wolf of Wall Street) hold their own switching from hard to compassionate when the moments called for it.
The most surprising performance was from Logan Lerman(Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Three Musketeers), who played newly assigned tank driver and desk jockey Norman Ellison. Norman is a young private who claims his specialty is not shooting bullets but typing 60 words per minute. Pitt’s character Sgt. Don ‘Wardaddy’ Colier takes Norman under his wing for many reason but the main reason is to keep him alive. As a form of solidarity the men tell themselves in what seems a sarcastic yet truthful salute, “this is the best job I ever had”.
The film is intense and the acting is right on. I cried, but then I always cry at every war movie I go to. I have my personal reasons. However, it’s hard not to cry when the scenes are so intense and the people are so real. The actors are heaving with such emotional turmoil your own insides ache for them. The tanker’s brotherhood resonates as I am reminded of all the people I have met who have been affected by war today.
“Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.”- Sgt. Don ‘Wardaddy’ Colier from Fury
Director David Ayers (Training Day, Fast & The Furious) did well in showing how war can cause conflicts within soldier’s about their moral values and faith as they fight to make it home from war. While at times Pitt’s character seems harsh he shows that he is harsh for good reasons in his lessons to young Norman.
The film is worth watching, and although the story is an old one, the stories told are relatable to some viewers out there.
In the spirit of TBT ( translation: throw back Thursday) I went browsing for something in my past post up. I found myself drawn into rereading the flash fiction I created just by looking into a photo and speculating. I enjoyed doing this challenge. It only made me love writing even more. So I share with you my TBT WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words- Mother.
I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Weekly Writing Challenge: A Picture Is Worth A 1000 Words
Who knew that this picture would be the picture that would end up defining our family. Mother insisted she take this photo as we wore our Sunday best. Father, never one for photos, only agreed because he hated being late more. Sissy was so proud of having her first big girl purse and I secretly agreed with father. Photos were for sissies and I took my cue from father and put on a stoic look.
Mother didn’t take the picture right away insisting that she wouldn’t unless we smiled. Sissy did her best to please mother, but then she was always trying to be like mother so of course she would. When mother realized that father and I wouldn’t budge she snapped the photo. I don’t know why father was so perturbed that day because when I think of it…
Can a foreigner ever understand the harsh reality of the constant struggle of the Afghanistan people and their culture?
Omar Farhad’s début novel gives readers a closer look at what it takes for people to survive in a world where chaos has become the norm, but where deep cultural rituals and habits are kept alive.
While Farhad’s story is fictional the novel sheds light on real living conditions in a world constantly torn apart by war. Honor and Polygamy shows Afghanistan’s plight from a different perspective.
Nicholas Blake, a UN diplomat from New York is assigned one last deployment to Afghanistan. However, Nicholas does not realize how much this deployment would change his life. He never planned on getting kidnapped, and used as a tool for the very Taliban he is trying to help remove from Afghanistan. Nicholas takes readers on his journey of hardships, and the terrible decisions he must make to stay alive, and return home to his wife and children he left behind. Farhad describes both Nicholas’ American world and his Afghanistan world with the relatable interactions of his characters. Will Nicholas’ knowledge of Afghanistan culture, and his nearly perfect Pashtun help him survive his captivity? How far will he go to save his life?
“What if I had done it differently? Would I be in the same mess? If I explained it to Lisa, would she understand? No . No matter how good my intentions were and how bad my circumstances are, my wife will never understand. She will always feel betrayed by and disappointed in me.” –Nicholas Blake in the novel Honor and Polygamy by Omar Farhad.
As a spouse, mother, sister, aunt, and friend of men and women who have deployed to Afghanistan. I am very aware of the dangers that can occur for people on deployment military or civilians. I also think much about Afghanistan people and how the war must affect their way of life. Honor and Polygamy stirs the hearts of readers to empathize with Nicholas’ actions to survive. Readers are left to reflect on how Nicholas’ survival may conflict with their own cultural beliefs and moral values. How far would you go?
We speak briefly with Omar Farhad about his novel and what brought him to tell us his story.
Budom: Were you concerned how recent current events might affect feedback from your readership regarding the political nature of the story?
Omar Farhad: First, I want to thank you for allowing me this opportunity to express myself and at the same time explain the nature of my début novel.
Honestly, I am very concerned with the recent US government’s reckless behavior in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Looking at the recent government changes that the US made or encouraged starting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and now in Syria, the political situation in mentioned nations have become more dangerous. The new weak and corrupt governments are not able to defend their nations against the new created fundamentalist ideology. Therefore, “one dictator is better than many corrupt official”. That in mind, the US experimentation of forced-fed democracy in the Middle East must stop at once before the entire world is pulled into a world war III.
Budom: As an Afghan-American man writing, a reader might assume that the book is very one side. However, I found it was not. Was it difficult emotionally for you to write the story?
To answer the first part of your question, every reader will judge my point of view according to his or her level of understanding. As a writer, the very first thing I have learned in writing is to be honest and truthful. I will never deviate from stating the facts directly or indirectly.
I used to work as a contractor in Afghanistan for a little over two years. After the end of my second year, I realized the US efforts in Afghanistan will ultimately have fruitless ending. In Afghanistan and the rest of the Middle East where the United States has been involved politically, the US government simultaneously failed to recognize the cultural distance, societal complexities, and change political practices. One size does not fit all.
Budom: Could this have really happened in Afghanistan if someone like Nick should request “Nanawatai,” which means “asylum” in Pashtun’s culture, and the language of the southern and eastern Afghanistan people?
Omar Farhad: The honor codes that I have mentioned in my book does exist in reality and yes, if someone like Nick who needed asylum “Nanawatai” would have been taken in by a Pashtun family. These codes of honor are many thousands year old. In a tribal uneducated society like Afghanistan, these codes of honor are still good as gold to bring order and to keep peace.
Budom: What do you want ‘Honor and Polygamy’ to accomplish as a novel? Do you find it is getting good reception with readers and critics?
Omar Farhad: Yes, the book is received warmly. Feedbacks from Amazon and goodreads.com are all positive.
I as an Afghan born had many hopes for Afghanistan. However, “seeing is believing” and what I have witnessed in Afghanistan did not give me hope for a better future.
After 14 years of US involvement in Afghanistan, after many lives lost on both sides, and after billions of dollars lost to a created corrupt system, the American public does not understand why we are involved in that war. The most typical and basic perception of the American people is, the spread of democracy. Well, that is a great idea but, did every American woke up one morning and realized they were born free? The answer is no. Democracy in the United States was achieved over a period of 300 years with many sacrifices made by those before us. The same is true about other nations and the same process and time is needed to achieve democracy.
With Honor and Polygamy, I am hoping to point out missed opportunities, cultural distance, and cultural complexities that were first missed by the British invading Afghanistan in late 1800s, the Russians in 1980s, and the US since 2001.
Budom: Will you be writing more on this subject on a future novel or do you have something else planned?
I am currently working on my own memoir, which also have a political side to it. My journey as a child begins right before the Russian invasion and I grow to a young man in war torn country and as a refugee in Pakistan.
Thank you Omar for giving us a look into another world and culture. I look forward to your next book. Honor and Polygamy can be found on Amazon.com.
About the author:
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan Omar Farhad move to the United States over 27 years ago, and now resides in California. Farhad holds degree in Aviation from Spartan School of Aeronautics as well as a degree in Global Economics from the University of Phoenix.
Signs are everywhere in life. Some signs are physical and tangible like when you want to head to a business or take a road trip reading the passing signs to count off the minutes before you arrive to your destination.
Some signs are more personal like signs for answered prayers, the plant you finally grew without killing it, or the sign of the rising or setting of the sun letting you know you’re alive.
There are signs that your relationship is over, or you need to move on to the next step. There are signs that you’re being admired or that you’re being bullied.
So while we want to look for that clear sign remember some signs are not always so clear, but some signs are worth clearing up.
Other Weekly Photo Challengers:
Weekly challengers if you enjoyed my photos please feel free to leave a link to your photo in the comments so I may enjoy your photos too. Catch ya on the flip side.
I love sushi. Being Asian helps but it’s more than just being Asian, this love for sushi. Sushi is an “edible” that looks weird but infuses flavors, which explode in your mouth . Sushi is famous for being raw (which btw is called sashimi) fish but it is so much more.
That’s why when my daughter came home exclaiming she found a running/moving sushi bar, I was all in. Sushi Choo Choo is a sushi with locations in Houston & Humble, Texas.They specialize in creating small portion size sushi rolls with names like Sea Dragon, Shaggy Dog, and Crazy Lover. The creations look creative and is delivered to you via moving belt.
Sushi Choo Choo’s ambiance is a very clean sleek but makes you feel like you stepped through a portal to Japan. I went to the Houston location twice, once for lunch and dinner another time. Both times our servers were very welcoming and efficient.
“The experience is unique and simple. Here is how it works.”-Sushi Choo Choo
The sushi that comes around is fresh and priced right. The sushi plates are color coded such as yellow is $1.50 and orange plate is the highest serving of sushi priced at $4.00. If your on even more of a budget for the Sushi Choo Choo’s has a “happy hour”. Happy hour means that you get 20% off sushi from the running bar and 50% off sake. Sushi Choo Choo is definite must if you get a chance to head to Houston. “Happy Hour” times are Sunday through Thursday 9pm to close and Monday through Friday 2:30pm to 5pm.
I recently read a blog by Erin J. Bernard, written on September 9, 2014 titled, KICKING PUPPIES AND TAKING NAMES: WHY WE MISBEHAVE IN ELEVATORS. Bernard engages readers with a cozy humorous tone throughout the blog. Her great insight on the psychology of elevator rides and the effect they have on human behavior. My favorite part of the blog is when she recalls famous elevator snafus most everyone can relate to. The elevator adventures are from past through present day.
“You might encounter a beautiful new neighbor with copious, spilling décolletage, whom you will instantly charm and then just-as-quickly infuriate when you gaze into her vacant eyes and explain that everybody in the building’s only been nice her because her boobies are humongous. It’s not your fault – your long-suffering son has placed a birthday curse on you that acts as a much-needed truth serum – and it’s causing all sorts of antics to ensue (“Liar Liar”).” — Erin J. Bernard
I found much of Bernard’s blog relatable to my own opinions, and I enjoyed hearing some historic information on elevators. Do yourself a favor, and read the article by Erin J. Bernard, who welcomes comments and discussion about the blog.
If I could ride in an elevator with anyone, either living or dead, I would most definitely pick Sigmund Freud.
Not because a 30-seconds-long vertical journey would be time enough to permit any kind of meaningful psychological exchange between the Good Herr Doktor and I – it’d be time enough to summon a pithy, off-cuff interpretation of last night’s bad dream, perhaps, or if he had his pocket watch on hand, to flirt with the stirrings of hypnotic stupor, but then it’d be time’s up.
And not because I have Daddy issues (Hi, Dad!), or because I enjoy ingesting the stink of stale cigar smoke within an enclosed space (which is always how I imagined Freud to smell, based on what he looks like in photographs).
Nay. I pick Freud because, if the events of the past two weeks are any indication, elevator shafts are unpredictable kinds of places in which…