Missing Unicorn

May 30, 2014

So a whole lot has happened this past week. My sister is getting married and all the planning is stressing out both her and her groom-to-be. Being an Arab/Muslim wedding, the traditions are a whole lot more confusing comparing to simple non-Arab weddings. I honestly still don't really understand it.

Seeing all the marriage how procedures and planning are being done, I realize now that I want to marry in Vegas. Away from awkward family conversations, wedding complications, and everyone's complaints. Just get married in Vegas. Simple as that. (I'm joking, of course. My parents would disown me if I did)

I've been itching to pull out my new slit maxi skirt ever since it arrived in the mail. At first I wanted to pair it with a crop top, but then I thought of going for something loose and comfortable, so I went for my pretty old Missing Unicorn tee. It's quite hot over on my side of the world, I wanted to take quickly take the photos and get out of the sun before my camera overheats, so please excuse my crunched up expression in these photos.

| Shirt - Lee Cooper | Skirt - Ebay | Shoes - H&M |
Necklace - Philippines | Bracelet - Ebay |

Have you guys attended an Arab wedding before? What was it like?
Keep cool and hydrated people, even if you're indoors! 
Have a great day y'all! 


It's a Gala!

May 24, 2014

It's a gala y'all!

I went to my first gala dinner during my trip to Oman. Now when people say "Gala Dinner" my first though was, red carpet, photographers, savory dishes, and the waltz. I know, that's not how regular gala's go and that I read too many red carpet articles. But I'm not the only one who had the red carpet fantasy, a friend of mine who came long on the trip had the same perception, so I'm not alone!

Anyways, the gala was to celebrate the conference or to give those uptight toastmasters a chance to let the crazy in them free. There was dancing. ALOT of it. First, everyone was okay, swaying to the music the live band was playing, and then the DJ stepped it. We all know what happens when the DJ steps into the building. People start to dance, jump and woohooo...It was weird watching those once serious toastmasters shake their booty up on the dance floor. And that was my cue to step out and sit down.

It's not that I don't like dancing and jumping to the music, it's just that the music was bad, or well, not my kind of music. I'm sorry but no. So 90% of the night,  most of our group stayed by our table, watched, and laughed at those who were dancing.

| Coral Maxi Dress - Forever 21 | Necklace  - ALDO |  Cardigan (similar) - Bershka | 
Shoes - Payless | Bag - Charles & Keith |
creds to my sis for the photos

When I saw this dress at Forever and tried it on, I felt so beautiful. Though it's simple, it really makes me feel beautiful for some reason. Maybe it's because I've never worn a dress like this and actually looked good while wearing it.

Has a dress or a piece of clothing ever made you feel beautiful?


Business and Pleasure

May 21, 2014

I flew to Oman for a District Toastmaster Annual Conference (DTAC) with some of the members from our toastmaster club. The conference and our hotel was at the Al Bustan Palace, Ritz Carlton; fancy I know. We all wanted to attend our first toastmaster conference overseas to see all those competing in the contests, to learn and be inspired by the workshops, to meet new people, and of course for the awesome giveaways. It was just a four day trip, and now I'm back and writing this post four days after I got home. 

We took an early flight and as much as I don't mind early morning flights, but it just ruins my sleeping pattern. I was relatively calm during the boarding and taxi process of it all, but as we went on to the actual take off, I suddenly freaked out. Like literally eyes-shut-crunched-fists-and-trembling-all-over kind of freaked out.

I wanted to write about how the take off and landing was the best parts of flying, and I didn't say that it wasn't, I wanted to write something poetic, but noooo...once the plane started to take off, the poet in me died. The reason to this is probably because I only fly a few times every two years. I don't know why specifically every two years, it just came to be.

Other than that, all was calm and well. no nausea, no panic attacks. Thankfully the plane landed so smoothly. But I now suddenly worry about my trip to Florida on August. can't we just teleport everywhere? it'll make things so much easier for the softhearted.

| Blazer (similar) - Forever 21 | Dress (similar) - New Look | Belt - H&M | 
| Bag - Charles and Keith | Shoes -  Paprika |
Creds to my sister for the Photos :)

I wore this outfit during day 1 of DTAC, and despite the casual stares of curiosity from people, it was all pretty fun. Plus, we had a little walk by the beach, and enjoyed the nice cool and slightly humid weather during lunchen. 




Circle of Deception by M. Skye Book Blast + Guest Post

Today, I bring you a book blast of one of the books that has a whole lot of drama spouting out from all over the place. Enjoy. :)

Circle of Deception by M. Skye
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Publish date: March 10, 2014
Publisher: Pink Flame Publishing

Megan Marie Cardoza, is a twenty- six year old Media CEO with a less than impressive personal life. When Meg’s best friend Emily returns to town, she, and Meg’s siblings shake things to the core prompting Meg to reveal her true feelings for her ex Alex, and give in to her needs she has been suppressing for six long years. After a steamy reconciliation between her and Alex, things seem to be falling back into place, until the past comes back to slap them in the face at their engagement party no less. With the arrival of Meg’s parents and the continued interference by Alex’s father, who hates Meg, secrets much deeper than they ever expected float to the surface threatening to rip Meg and Alex apart for good, with fatal results for some. When everything she thought she knew is in question, Meg must decide if the secrets are big enough to walk away for good.
About the Author
This is the debut novel for author M. Skye. In her novels, she likes to evoke strong dramatic story lines, with strong romantic content. She loves to throw twists and curve balls you won’t see coming into her stories, with racy encounters at every turn. This is the first published work, but won’t be the last from this imaginative writer. She spends her free time writing and spend time with her large family.

Guest Post from the Author
Circle of Deception Blog

One night after a long shift at the clinic, I, M. Skye, sat down in front of my computer just staring at the screen. For the longest time, I had always had so much to say, so much creativity to make use of, and had yet to do anything significant. With my soundtrack of smooth R&B music, I started writing, and never stopped. In the past five months, I have written three full fiction novels, and began a fourth. My first, and nearest to my heart because it’s like my first child, is Circle of Deception.

In Circle of Deception, we are introduced to Megan Cardoza, and her insanely hilarious siblings and best friend. Meg, found herself in a life of boredom after splitting with her longtime boyfriend Alex Hanover after a drunken mistake made on his behalf during college. When her best friend, Emily, suddenly appears in town weeks earlier than expected, a plan is set in motion by Meg’s younger twin sisters Maddie and Melia, Emily, and Meg’s adopted brother Giovanni to push Meg and Alex together for one evening to hash things out.

After six years of separation they end up face to face in a crowded restaurant surrounded by all of their friends, and Alex has one purpose: getting her back. After a steamy encounter in the restroom of the restaurant, he makes the ultimate request and secures her love once again. Also inspiring a romance between his brother Aiden and her best friend Emily.

Things take a turn for the better after he proposes, and he proceeds to give her the fairytale she always wanted. They pick up where they left off six years earlier, making up for lost time in more ways than one. They rush and scramble to put together the perfect wedding with the help of her siblings and mother, until his past shows up at their engagement party with a child that belongs to him. The engagement party also sets the stage for an uncomfortable encounter between Alex and his parents.

The announcement of the child damages his relationship with Meg to an almost unrepairable peak. When she takes a step back he calmly lets her figure things out, but vows to win her back. As Meg works to rebuild her trust in Alex, they both bond with his little girl causing a rift between them and the child’s mother Bianca.

When Maria, Meg’s mother, suddenly turns up missing, the Hanover boys pitch in to help the girls and Giovanni locate their mother unleashing a world of secrets that were better left hidden. The closer they get to finding Maria’s whereabouts, the more dangerous the task proves to be. With everyone she loves in possible jeopardy, Meg must decide if the problems of the past are great enough to dictate her future. She must decide if love is really strong enough to overcome so much pain.

Once all the secrets are out in the open, the story comes to an exciting climax leaving everyone in the crossfire. As Alex finally reaffirms his devotion to Meg, is it too little too late for everyone? In this suspenseful, steamy, romantic, novel, we get to see so many different characters come together for one common goal: to save their family.

Now see what I mean by the drama spouting out from different directions, I have to say, I enjoy the drama, it makes it a whole lot more unputdownable. Thank you madam Skye, for this wonderful post that fills us readers with so much suspense for the book, my temptation for purchasing books like these a whole less stronger to handle.

You can buy Circle of Deception on these fabulous sites!


Goddess Born by Kari Edgren Book Blast

May 19, 2014

Goddess Born Pennsylvania, 1730 Selah Kilbrid keeps a dangerous secret: she has the power to heal. A direct descendent of the Celtic goddess Brigid, it’s Selah’s sacred duty to help those in need. But as the last of the Goddess Born living in the New World, she learned from an early age to keep her supernatural abilities hidden. The Quaker community of Hopewell has always been welcoming, but there’s no doubt they would see her hanged if her gift was revealed. When a prominent minister threatens to try her with witchcraft unless she becomes his wife, Selah has only one hope—that her betrothed, a distant cousin from Ireland, arrives as planned. Marrying Samuel would keep her secret safe, preserve her sacred bloodline, and protect her from being charged as a witch. But when news of Samuel’s death reaches the Colonies, Selah is truly on her own. Terrified, she faces an impossible choice—forfeit her powers and marry the loathsome Nathan? Or find an imposter to pose as her husband and preserve her birthright?

2013 RWA Golden Heart© Finalist
2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist

  ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer Set in the colony of Pennsylvania in 1730, this riveting novel begins as 18-year-old Selah Kilbrid runs into Quaker minister Nathan Crowley, a man who “labor[ed] under the delusion that [Selah] would soon be his wife” despite the fact that she was betrothed to a man on his way to America from Ireland. Nathan tells Selah that if she refuses him, he will have her “charged as a witch” because of her ability to heal the sick. To avoid Nathan’s plan to marry her the following Sunday, she leaves for Philadelphia to wait for the arrival of her betrothed and marry him before returning home. In Philadelphia, she discovers that her betrothed has died at sea. She then purchases Henry, an indentured servant, and convinces him to pose as her husband and help protect her from Nathan. As the story continues, the reader learns of Selah’s family history and the powers she possesses; Selah is half human, half goddess. It's important that her secret stay safe, because if discovered, she could be killed. The characters are well developed and relatable; the reader empathizes with Selah and her plight. The fast-paced plot is exciting and keeps the reader guessing and in suspense. The end leaves room for a sequel, which, after such a tremendous beginning, would be anxiously awaited. A clear winner!

Kari EdgrenAuthor Kari Edgren Kari Edgren did not dream of becoming a writer. Instead, she dreamed of everything else and was often made to stay inside during kindergarten recess to practice her letters. Despite doting parents and a decent school system, Ms. Edgren managed to make it through elementary school having completed only one book cover to cover – The Box Car Children, which she read approximately forty-seven times. Things improved during high school, but not until she read Gabrielle Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in college, did she truly understand the power of a book. Ms. Edgren aspires to be a Vulcan, a world-acclaimed opera singer, and two inches taller. She resides in the Pacific NW where she spends a great deal of time torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts. Ms. Edgren hasn’t stopped dreaming, but has finally mastered her letters enough to put the stories on paper.

  Goddess Born Tour

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Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 6/15/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Missing Lily by Annette K. Larsen Book Blast

May 18, 2014
missing lily

Missing Lily “You don’t know who I am,” I whispered. He didn’t move—either away from me, or closer—and after an interminable moment, I stepped back and hurried out of the house. He didn’t follow me as I fled into the night. Lylin was not used to being alone—much less alone, hurt, and lost. So when she is separated from her guard and forced to abandon her horse, she counts herself lucky to stumble upon a manor house. Still frightened by those who chased her into the night, she keeps her identity a secret, calling herself Lily as she accepts the help of kind servants, and the compassion of Lord Fallon. When they fall into an easy friendship, she wonders if her secrecy was too hasty. However, as she gets to know the manor and its residents, Lylin discovers that she’s not the only one hiding secrets, and it may be a very good thing that her host doesn’t know her true identity as a member of the royal family.  
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Author Annette K. Larsen I was born in Utah, part of a crazy, fun family of nine. I grew up in Flagstaff, AZ and St. Louis, MO before striking out on my own college adventure in Virginia. I decided to try my hand at writing novels after I was married and living in Idaho. I write clean romance because it’s my favorite genre, but often difficult to find.
I have Charlotte Brontë to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally, a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to face the reality of sacrificing what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but in the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it. I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.

Missing Lily Tour
Not yet read Just Ella?
It is on sale for $3.99 for the duration of the blog tour.
Grab your copy on Amazon.

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      Book Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 6/10/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester Book Blast

May 13, 2014
Hello there everyone.
Today I would like to proudly introduce Steven Manchester onto this new platform of mine.

I've read one of Steven's book in the past, "Goodnight, Brian", and it was just moving. I loved it. And now, his new, hot off the press novel, "Pressed Pennies" has just been released. I've has the pleasure of reading this lovely book before hand and it was simply wonderful and heartwarming. Pressed Pennies Review

Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rick and Abby grew up together, became best friends, and ultimately fell in love. Circumstance tore them apart in their early teens, though, and they went on to lives less idyllic than they dreamed about in those early days. Rick has had a very successful career, but his marriage flat-lined. Abby has a magical daughter, Paige, but Paige's father nearly destroyed Abby's spirit.
Now fate has thrown Rick and Abby together again. In their early thirties, they are more world-weary than they were as kids. But their relationship still shimmers, and they're hungry to make up for lost time. However, Paige, now nine, is not nearly as enthusiastic. She's very protective of the life she's made with her mother and not open to the duo becoming a trio. Meanwhile, Rick has very little experience dealing with kids and doesn't know how to handle Paige. This leaves Abby caught between the two people who matter the most to her. What happens when the life you've dreamed of remains just inches from your grasp?
Pressed Pennies is a nuanced, intensely romantic, deeply heartfelt story of love it its many incarnations, relationships in their many guises, and family in its many meanings. It is the most accomplished and moving novel yet from a truly great storyteller of the heart. - Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio:  Steven Manchester is the author of The Rockin' Chair, as well as the #1 best seller, Twelve Months (2013 San Francisco, DIY & New England Book Festivals award winner). He is also the author of A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Goodnight, Brian (2013 Southern California Book Festival award winner), and Pressed Pennies (due out May 2014). His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or his four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.
Pressed Pennies Excerpt
A mix of playful conversation and alcohol set the night’s happy mood. Rick was tipping his third beer at the season’s final bash when he looked up and saw her. He nearly choked on his drink. She was his age, pretty with an athletic build. She had gorgeous wavy chestnut hair with beautiful dark eyes that matched. She had a mysterious confidence about her and a smile that men would die for. Rick swore she had an aura from her head to her feet. At that moment, he thought, I have to meet her. His mind filled with questions that needed answers: Who does she know at the party? Who can I get her background from? Who can introduce us? As his mind raced, Carol walked over with the beauty. And as they got closer, it hit him. “Oh, my God!” he said.

“Rick, this is…” the friendly hostess began to introduce with a smile.
“Abby!” Rick interrupted. “I can’t believe it.” It was her. It was Abby Gerwitz, his childhood sweetheart. He searched her eyes and a thousand memories—happy childhood pictures—flooded his mind. And then he recalled the pain he’d felt on the day they were forced to say goodbye.

After an unforgettable summer, Abby and the neighborhood gang received the terrible tidings. Rick—then known as Richard—gathered the gang in his backyard. He felt ready to cry. “I’ve got some bad news, guys,” he said.
“Oh, God,” Tracy blurted.
“Yeah?” asked Vinny.
“What’s is it?” Grant asked.
Richard looked at Abby. She was frozen.
“My dad was promoted to lieutenant, and he has to transfer to another prison across the state.” There was a long, painful pause. “We’re going to have to move away…next week.”
It was a lie. They were moving, sure enough, but Richard’s dad hadn’t been promoted. The hospital bills from his mom’s car accident—where a drunk driver had stolen away her life—had finally broken them. It was a matter of money or more precisely the lack of it. Richard silently vowed that he’d never be put in the same position—ever. No matter what I have to do, he swore to himself.
While the rest of his friends hung their heads and complained, Abby burst out crying and ran for her house.
As Rick recalled, it was well past midnight when he finally surrendered to the tossing and turning. Rolling out of bed, he maneuvered past several moving boxes, stepped up to the window and pulled back the curtain. Wilbur Avenue was deserted and silent. From left to right—as if he was branding the picture into his mind forever—he carefully scanned every detail of the place he could no longer call home. Although one good memory after another played out before him, a sharp pain pricked his heart. No one was watching, so he allowed the tears to flow. Once he’d arrived at the farthest reaches of his vantage point, he forced his swollen eyes to work their way back and absorb more of his past. “Why do we have to leave?” he muttered. “Why?” Before long, his shoulders rocked back and forth to the rhythm of his quiet sobs.
The very next morning, gray clouds hovered over Wilbur Avenue. Richard’s dad and grandma made their goodbyes quick and waited in the overstuffed station wagon for Richard.
Richard had never said goodbye before. The pain was alien. It hurt something awful to face Abby. Overwhelmed with emotion, it took him a while to speak. It was the hardest thing he had ever had to do.
“Well, I guess…” Richard muttered, and choked on the words. Not knowing what else to do, he pulled the curled brim of his ball cap down further over his eyes.
Through sniffles, Abby finally said, “You can come back and visit, right?”
“Sure.” Richard was fighting to be strong and dared not speak more than a word.
Abby lifted the brim of his hat. “Goodbye, Richard,” she whimpered.
Richard placed his hand on her shoulder and shook his head. “No Abby…I’ll be seein’ ya,” he whispered, and with one surge of courage kissed her on the lips.
While Abby’s eyes went wide, he pulled his baseball cap back over his eyes, jumped into the family station wagon and never looked back. One cruel moment later, the Giles family drove away.
Though Richard and Abby promised to keep in touch, frequent phones calls and detailed letters gradually became an occasional event until adolescence rearranged priorities and their communication ceased altogether.

Back in the present, Abby gasped. “Richard? Is it really you?”
Rick grinned. “It’s Rick now,” he said.
Her smile turned mischievous. “Okay, Richard.”
He stood to meet her embrace and squeezed her tight. “My God, it’s been so long. How have you been?”
She pulled away to peer into his eyes and, without a word, returned to their embrace.
While they hugged over the unexpected reunion, Carol was clearly pleased with herself—as if she’d known there was history between them. “Abby just moved into the neighborhood, Rick…three houses down from us. It appears that you two have a lot in common, so I’ll leave you to it.” Carol smiled widely before strutting away.
“So you’re living on Freedom Avenue now…near these crazy people?” Rick asked. He couldn’t believe it, but his palms were actually sweaty. He looked into her sparkling eyes and experienced arrhythmia for the first time in his life.
“I am,” Abby said before looking down at his left hand and then back into his eyes. “You’re not married?” she asked, blushing slightly over the impulsive question.
“Happily divorced,” he answered.
“Then you must have a creep for an ex-husband too?” she teased. Her tone was gentle and there was a soft light playing around her eyes.
“I do,” Rick said. “His name’s Rose.”
Abby chuckled and took the seat beside her old friend. Her laugh was absolutely contagious.
For a few moments, neither spoke a word. And then Abby’s face blushed again when Rick caught her staring. She looked away. Rick was thrilled over the obvious chemistry between them.
Rick cracked open a fresh beer and offered it to her. His hands were almost trembling. No one has ever had this effect on me, he thought. No one. He was legitimately nervous.
She shook her head. “Thanks, but I don’t like beer,” she said, and then stared straight into his soul. “So you did the divorce thing too, huh?”
He shrugged. “I did. Seems like the ‘in thing’ these days.”
“Any kids?” she asked, shifting from one hip to the other.
Rick’s eyes lit up. “Zachary…the love of my life. He just turned two.” He took a swig of beer. “I’m thinking about getting him a bigger bowl.”
Abby’s eyebrow rose in confusion.
“Zachary’s my gold fish,” Rick explained, chuckling.
Even through the laughter, Abby kept staring. At one point, she slid closer to him.
Her presence felt so comfortable and familiar to Rick. “And you… any kids?” he asked.
“Paige,” Abby answered, with the same twinkle in her eyes. “She’ll be nine next week…just old enough to be brokenhearted.”
Rick nodded. “Boy problems?”
“No. Daddy problems.” She shook her head, the twinkle gone. “Her father hasn’t made a whole lot of time for her lately,” she explained.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” As a light drizzle began to fall, Rick leaned into Abby’s face. She smelled as good as she looked.
Abby nodded, but quickly changed the subject. “So how long have you known Carol?” she asked.
“Too long,” Rick answered with a smirk. “Actually, I met Danny in college and met Carol after their first date. He was my business colleague for a while. He and Carol have been together for almost three years now. She’s great. She loves Danny’s two boys like they’re her own.”
“Business colleagues?”
“Investments. Stocks, bonds… really, really important stuff like that,” he added, sarcastically.
“You two still together?” she asked.
“Nope. Danny and I have broken up. I recently discovered that I liked sunshine a little more than fluorescent light.” He thought for a moment. “I just started doing some consulting work, and I write a little now.”
“You do? That’s great!” Abby said. She smiled like an angel. “I’d love to see some of your writing.”
Rick’s skin tingled over the suggestion.

Beneath a wet sky, the rest of the night was spent getting caught up. For Rick, it felt like old times—even though he had no idea who Abby was as an adult.
They reminisced first about Rick’s grandma and father. “So how are they?” Abby asked. “I always loved them, you know.”
He smiled. “Dad lives in New Hampshire now, working with delinquent kids.”
She smiled, her head cocked. “Did he ever remarry?”
“No. He’s never stopped loving my mom enough to pursue another woman. I guess in his own way he still grieves her death.”
Abby’s mouth twisted slightly, forming itself into a frown; she was clearly touched by the undying love the man had for his wife.
“I think Grandma’s right,” Rick added. “When my dad passes, I’m betting that he and my ma will spend eternity making up for lost time.”
Abby nearly cooed at the sweet sentiment. “I’ll never forget his dog, Roy,” she said.
Rick took a sip of beer and chuckled. “Believe it or not, he actually has Roy’s grandson now—Ray.”
She shook her head and laughed. “Roy and now Ray. What was the dog’s name in between?”
“Screw Up.”
Abby was sent into a state of hysterics.
Rick shrugged and laughed along with her.
“And Grandma?” she asked, regaining her composure.
Rick nodded. “Still spry and spunky…just a really cool person. You know her motto: ‘The body doesn’t wear out, it rusts.’ She’s still listening to her music and raising holy hell.”
Abby smiled at the familiar phrase.
“And she got married,” Rick said.
“Yep. His name is Bill Stryker and they’re perfect for each other.” He took another swig of beer. “She still makes me sit for dinner every Sunday.” Rick then asked about Abby’s parents.
There was a sad pause. “My mom passed away,” Abby said, “from a lack of purpose, I’d say. And I haven’t spoken to my father for a few years now.” She tried to shake off the pain. “We no longer share a relationship… just some really bad memories. I imagine he’s still committing suicide the long way.”
“Yup, still doing laps in his bottle.”
Rick put his beer on the table and quickly changed the subject.
“Have you heard from any of the old Wilbur Avenue gang?”
Abby’s smile returned. “From what I hear, Vinny became an attorney and is living with his wife in Vermont.” She thought for a moment. “I don’t know how anyone could stand to live with him.”
Rick laughed.
“Tracy became a psychologist and moved to Utah.”
“Married?” Rick asked.
“A-sexual, I think.”
They both laughed. Rick couldn’t stop staring at her great smile and adorable dimples.
“Actually, I heard she lives with her lesbian lover and goes by the new name Cheyenne.”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
Abby shook her head.
“Good for her,” Rick said.
“But I haven’t heard anything about Grant,” Abby added.
Rick leaned forward. “You’re not going to believe this, but the first day I walked into college…there was Grant talking to some pretty, unsuspecting freshman.”
Abby shook her head.
“I still see him every Tuesday night,” Rick said. “We shoot a little pool and a whole lot of bull.”
She was shocked. “How is he?”
“The same…emotionally amputated; socially challenged.”
As the laughter continued, she asked, “Do you remember the last time your dad brought us all to Lincoln Park? Believe it or not, I still think about that sometimes.”
“Are you kidding?” Rick said. “I could live a hundred lifetimes and never forget that day!” And without his permission, his mind immediately raced back to the smack of screen doors and the echoes of foolish, barefooted children running toward the future.

As a going away gift to Richard and his friends, Jim Giles announced, “I’m treating you all to Lincoln Park.” It was a local amusement park that was famous for its epic Easter egg hunts and The Comet—the largest and most feared roller coaster on the East Coast. The park also had the reputation of hosting some lifelong memories from early spring until late fall.
Jim Giles pulled the station wagon into the front of the park and shut off the ignition. From sheer excitement, the back doors flew open and Richard, Abby, Grant, Tracy and Vinny piled out like a trained circus act. They waited. Jim Giles never opened his door.
Richard ran around to his father’s window. “Aren’t you comin’, Dad?” he asked, still resentful over their upcoming move.
Jim handed his son some money and winked. “This is your day,” he said, and then looked at Abby beside Richard. “Stay together, all right?”
They both nodded. “Absolutely,” said Richard. “I’ll be seein’ ya.”
“We will,” Abby promised.
Richard’s father smiled. “Meet me back here at six,” he said, and drove away from the curb.
The gang watched as the wood-paneled wagon disappeared into traffic. They looked at each other and smiled. They’d been set loose for one last hoorah. This entire day was going to be their last great adventure together. Past the roller-skating rink and bowling alley out front, they sprinted toward the ticket gate.
Murals of smiling clowns holding balloons and lollipops beckoned them inside. A hand stamp cost five dollars and fifty cents and allowed them to ride all the rides for the day. Once paid, the land of thrill seekers, big crowds and long lines opened up to them. “That’s expensive,” Richard blurted, while Grant discreetly talked Tracy into paying his fare.
Three steps in and a slew of stimuli nudged them into a frenzy of squeals and high-fives. Flashing lights, carnival sounds and joyous screams filled the park. From popcorn to vomit, the smells were overwhelming. A world of vivid colors—dark reds and yellows and blues—covered everything. One look around, and it was clear that romance could blossom here, as well. Richard glanced over at Abby to find her staring at him. Smiling to himself, he turned, waved his friends toward him and ran for the rides. “Come on!”
Everyone took chase.
The gang worked its way through the park. Hidden speakers spouting the moans and wails of ghouls and mutants soon had them standing before The Monster Ride. “Looks like Old Lady MacDonald’s place,” Richard said and everyone agreed. Those who dared to ride were greeted by gaudy, lurking statues of hideous creatures with horns, sharp teeth and insane eyes. Of course, to the older, more discerning eye, the giant plaster of Paris knick-knacks were no less than absurd.
Richard led his friends toward the unknown. Tracy wouldn’t hear of it. “Come on, Scaredy-Cat,” Grant taunted. It didn’t matter. No matter how much teasing they heaped on, Grant and Vinny were forced to share a car. Abby had already jumped in with Richard.
From the moment the car hit the double doors and entered pitch darkness, Abby shut her eyes and never opened them. While hideous mannequins waited in the shadows, the car took jerky turns on a squeaky track. “Eeeek,” Abby squealed, while Richard did his best not to laugh. Through all the screaming, the smells of the midway wafted in, while several rays of sunlight streamed through the cracks in the old, wooden boards. Though these reminded everyone that his or her plight was surreal and only temporary, it still didn’t matter in the belly of the beast. At one point, Abby placed her trembling body against Richard’s.
He’d never felt such warmth. His whole body tingled and he instinctively tightened his grip. It was almost a hug. A swarm of butterflies fluttered in his guts, but even in the blackness he couldn’t bring himself to kiss her. He just couldn’t do it.
As the car came crashing through another set of double doors and back into reality, Richard and Abby released each other. Through squinted eyes, they exchanged a grin. The crush was their little secret.

Once Rick returned to their conversation, he looked hard into Abby’s eyes and his Adam’s apple took forever to travel south. “Those were definitely the days,” he said.
She nodded. “Find a penny, pick it up and all that day you’ll have good luck.”
“As long as it’s heads up,” he added, with a grin.
Between the conversation and shared laughter, the entire night seemed to last all of three seconds.
Pressed Pennies is now available at Amazon & Barnes & Noble!


Flying, Toastmasters, and Han Solo

May 12, 2014

Only a couple of days before I fly to Oman with my fellow Toastmasters for a three-day Toastmaster convention, and I thought I'd be a bit more excited about it, with the heavy heart beats and restless nights thinking about the flight, but it all seems good. Perhaps my excitement for flying will grow once I'm on the way to the airport.

Speaking of flying to Oman, it's been three days and I still haven't finished packing. Thankfully for all the lists and grocery shopping, I'm half way done.


| Top - Stradivarious | Belt - forever21 | Pants - BERSKA | Shoes - New Look |
Photos by my sister, Naj

The theme for last week's toastmaster meeting was Star Wars Day. My first thought was to dress up as a padawan, and while picking out the clothes, the outfit looked more like Han Solo's than a padawan's. I decided to go with it.
And a funny bonus from the night! 

Tell me you wouldn't morph into this position when being attacked by a toy lightsaber. Imagine if it was a real one, those things can slice your head off.


Appear, Disappear

May 8, 2014

Do you all get that feeling when you really want a specific item, you see it everywhere? And you refuse to buy what you see until you find the perfect one. So you stand there contemplating whether this particular object is worth your money.

While I'm out and about at the mall, meeting up with friends, or having breakfast/lunch/dinner. While I walk around and look into the shop windows to see and admire the clothes behind it, my mind suddenly travels to an image of a gorgeous simple pair of ankle strapped heels that I saw online a few weeks back. Seeing those pumps on almost every window I passed, and spending my time going in almost every shop trying to decide if those pumps were exactly as I imagined them to be. I finally settled down and bought what I thought were the perfect pair. My wishes for ankle strap heels have been answered, thank you universe!

| Shirt - Ralph Lauren | Pants - Bershka | Shoes - Payless |

What better place to break into your new pumps then during a Toastmaster meeting, where you will be sitting down half the time. 

So, have any of you ever wanted something sooo bad that it started to show up everywhere?