a stranger’s talk

The store was so quiet, it is that time frame again where everyone is out getting dinner and about 2-3 customers shows up within an hour until we close for the night. Sometimes, if we are lucky no customers show up for the last hour and we close fifteen minutes early leaving right on the dot. As I grab the stool and sit on it while munching away on my Kit Kat bar, I began to stare into space. Four angry customers back to back over something I have no control (thanks a lot online orders) and I was dead tired. A walking zombie I was.

“Hello beautiful young lady, maybe you can help me,” the customer said giving me a startle. I didn’t even realized that someone was in the store. I quickly smile at him and put my face mask on while greeting him. He told me what he was looking for and I told him where to find it. Of course, he came to me a few times with other questions and I answer it all even while I was checking him out. My coworker was on her thirty minute meal break.

“I bet your parents are proud of you, juggling school and work at the same time. Where do you go to school?” I have forgotten that I was logged into my school portal trying to do a few class discussion when I was cutting his fabrics for him. I told him where I was attending school and what I was majoring in. I even joke about the “making my parents proud” as I failed to find a career for the past seven years. He laughed before saying “I’m sure they are proud because you never gave up and you haven’t yet or you wouldn’t be going back to school.”

As he stand with his bag in front of the store staring at the Christmas ornaments, he turned around back to me. “I was never a good father for my daughter. If she was alive she would be around your age or maybe a little older. Back in the days I became an alcoholic after losing my job and my wife left the both of us. I actually been in and out of jail and my daughter was put into a foster home. After many years, I decided to get help and then reconnected with my daughter. We spent her last few months together and she taught me how to sew. Now I love sewing.” He gave me one last smile and bid me good night before walking out into the darkness. Once again, the store was filled with emptiness.

First Time Wearing a Tampon: From a Hmong Girl’s POV

Last week my friend was on her period and she decided to try out a tampon. I was with her at the store to help her choose which tampons to buy and guiding her from outside the bathroom door when she was putting it in. It took her five tries, but she did it. After I while I was inspired to share my story of when I first used a tampon. I was twenty-one at the time and I decided to try a tampon. Usually, I wear pads, but at that time I was also starting to get into the leggings trend, so I wasn’t comfortable wearing pads. It was because the first few days of my period can be heavy, and I had to wear the thicker pads. Plus, it was during spring and I had a gym class. Upon my decision to try a tampon I went to the bookstore and just bought what was available.

Now, my whole entire family used pads. Additionally, both my parents are conservative, and I didn’t want them to know that I was inserting something into my vagina. I was convinced that they wouldn’t like the idea of it. Plus, I can’t really hide anything in my family. Just imagine sharing a bedroom with three sisters not that much privacy. In high school, all the Hmong girls never used tampons. In fact, I would hear them say stuff about how putting a tampon into your vagina is so disgusting and invasive. One specifically said:

“If you want to put a tampon in, why not just find some dicks.”

Yep, even though I never joined the conversation I would hear things like that. In which made me intimidated. What if they knew that I was starting to use tampons? Would they think differently of me? I knew most of them don’t even like me, but what about the very few Hmong girls that I’m still close with? So many scattered thoughts in my brains.

Anyway, I went on to college for my undergraduate degree and my last year I decided to try a tampon. I contemplated a lot, but I somehow bought the pack of tampons instead of the pads at the bookstore. The directions were confusing and even though I was majoring in biology, I was never that close to my own body. However, I tried by myself and I thought I was successful. I was SO WRONG.

I can feel the tampon when I was standing and walking around so I thought that was how it was supposed to be. It was so painful and uncomfortable when I was sitting down that I had to call for help. Ashley, one of my friends, who was on campus, came by my room. She looked at the packaging and told me that since it was my first time maybe it was better for me to get a smaller size. I didn’t know tampons came sizes.

We went to Walmart and I got a smaller size which Ashley helped me picked out when I told her how heavy my period was. We came back from Walmart and Ashley was outside the toilet door. The bathroom was huge that even the shower room has its own door and there two sinks. So, she was telling me to take my time finding my vagina, she even gave me a small mirror for me in case I needed to see where my vagina was.  In addition, to telling me that I need to try different poses to see which one I’m more comfortable putting in the tampon. The entire time I was nervous, couldn’t properly put it in and because I was so tense my muscles weren’t relaxed. So, Ashley told me a few jokes and stories. Before I knew it, I became relax and after calming myself down from all the laughter, I succeeded. However, I went through eleven tampons, which was almost the whole entire box.

All those scattered thoughts I had about wearing tampons went away. I felt very comfortable. Of course, I heard about toxic shock syndrome but that is caused by bacteria. Its association with tampons is that it is possible to get it if you leave in a tampon for so long. Which I never had and none of my close friends never experience it. I’m not sure if young Hmong girls these days are more opened to using tampons, but when I hear my younger cousins or younger sisters of friends I encouraged them to give it a try instead of judging. Of course, I get this weird look from most of them, which I don’t even mind now. With that said I still used tampons these days, but I also remain loyal to my pads. I have days when I want to use tampons and days when I feel like rocking a pad.

My Mother’s Story

Growing up I can never rely getting help with homework from my mother. If it was project that deals with creativity, then that is when my mom can help. However, if it was something like calculus, I’m on my own.  Unlike my father who was educated in Laos, my mother never received any education. She lost her father at an early age, and spent her childhood farming. Even this day, she still gardens after she comes back from work.

Oh, how I remember the day of my youth in the summer under the scorched sun helping my mom planting and cultivating. No wonder, I suffered from chronic back pain and exhaustion. And you would think with all the agriculture I’ve been doing for most of life I would have a green thumb, to only learned that I possessed a much rather black thumb.

Though my mom does not have any education, she is a hard worker. She knows basic vocabularies and phrases. In October of 2014, she finally obtained her US citizenship after vigorous month of studying. And she only took it one time. One time! Of course, I went with her and translated for her. There were days when studying became clown class because of mistranslation and we (my siblings and I) would get surprisingly confused at our own words or simply because the Easter Bunny would steal our brains.

There are also other Hmong people who would come to our house and my father would help them filled out all the immigration forms and give them resources to study and prepped for the citizenship test. They know English! They are fully capable of speaking in English. How I know? Well, simply because my siblings and I would speak to them in Hmong and they replied in English all the time. The only time they would speak in Hmong is when they’re talking to the elders or my parents. And oh boy, I’m glad that I have better Hmong than them. They would be asking my dad if they can get an interpreter, but they don’t qualify for one. Then they would be complaining and I would roll my eyes while I’m thinking “If my mother passed it, so can you. Just read the damn handbook.”

When I first started my first year of college, my parents were worried. Though I was smart I didn’t seem motivated and they were quite right about it. I was more laid back and I loved my naps. Plus, I was and still am the type of person who sometimes don’t stick to my words.  So, they had every right to be worry. But, I will not forget what my mother told me at my high school graduation party: “Think of your education like a huge land filled with crops and weeds. If you start to remove the weeds in one area, but the next day decide to start another area and you say that you can finished the first area on another day. However, the next day you moved onto another area, and do the same the next day and the next day. When will you ever get done? Education is like that. If you get lazy and don’t finished what you have started, you’ll never accomplished anything.”

Advice from MaiMai #2

Anon4013 sent in:

I’m currently a 2nd  year in college. I have this high school friend that I’ve known since we were kids and she was attending another college. She didn’t so well so she was put on academic probation. I want to tell her that she needs to get back on track and stop hanging out with the wrong group of people. However, she has change a lot since meeting her new group of friends and even her first old group of college friends tried to help her but she cut off contact with them. I’m afraid she’s going to do the same with me and I don’t want that to happen. Should I just try to talk to her even though I know that she won’t listen? Or should I give up on her like everyone else?

MaiMai Says:

If you want to help your friend then you should tell her. Don’t be afraid that she will cut off ties with you because she probably already has and you just don’t know it yet. A loyal friend will always let her friend knows when she is going on the wrong path and tell her to get herself together. For example, there was this one year a friend and I got into a heated argument when I was telling my friend to stop going to the bars and clubs because she was failing all her classes.

The only thing you need to know is your duty of a friend and that is to either support her or not to support with all her choices. If you don’t support her then state your reasoning. She may not agree with you, but at least you try. Lastly, you may find, that like most others, giving up on her is the best choice after you try to talk to her. Let her walk her own path and let her learn from her own mistakes.

Dead End

Submitted by Anonymous

2 cups of harsh words
1/2 teaspoon of salt in my wound
4 wine bottles of shards between

Just enough to make her cry. Enough to make her bruise all over her body until it aches. Enough for her storm into the bathroom and lock the door. But not enough for her to leave you.

1 glass of red champagne
1/4 cup of Hershey kisses
1 teaspoon of sweet words

Just enough to make her smile and know that you won’t leave her just yet. Enough to comfort her while lying on the bed beside your cold empty space. More than enough to keep her from leaving your grasp.

4 cups hot boiling water
3 cups of heated cooking oil
6 cups of tears

More than enough to get her to leave you. She can walk straight out of your hands right now. Push you into your own circle of flames and say that you deserve it. But it’s all in her head. Only in her head.

1/2 teaspoon of honey
1 tablespoon of lemon
1/8 teaspoon of your comfort

Enough to make her feel worthy of herself. To make her feel that she is loved by you and only you. Enough to make her feel that she doesn’t matter to anyone else, but you. This little sweet and sour taste that fills her heart and soul to make her come dwelling in your dungeon.

A Good Rain


I heard the sky thunder as I walk through the gloomy paths on campus. Walking under my purple umbrella, I kept my head down under my black hoodie and monitor each of my every step. As I heard more rain drops on my umbrella I looked up to see the people around me. There were some running late to class, rushing to get out of the shower, some listening to music, and some occupy on their phone. Lastly, there were some like me just walking around and pretending to not care.

As I walked in the cold rain I realized I liked the rain more that day. The weather was gloomy and perfect for me to stay inside all cuddled on my bed and just take a good nap. A good weather for me to just have me time. I looked ahead and saw a puddle, usually I would walk around it but somehow I told myself “Just do it. It’ll be fun. It’s like being a kid again.” And sure enough, I walked straight into the puddle and as the cold water seeped into my pair of turquoise Nike’s and into my black socks the sensation woke me up from my sleepiness. I have never felt more good than any mornings.  Continue reading “A Good Rain”

Letters not send, #2

Dear Grandpa,

It’s been six years since you’ve gone away. We are all doing well and good with you overlooking all of us. As you may guess it there has been many hurdles over the past few years. Words said that had caused many of us to bleed, but it’s only stabbing words that hopefully we can all heal overtime. Grandma is still doing great and going strong. But she misses you more as each day passes. I haven’t actually talk to her on the phone for the past year as I am currently back in school and working part time at a retail stores. Working hard toward my dream and career to make you proud in heaven.

Cheng and Maika had graduated high school. Cheng graduated last year and Maika this year. Next year will be May and Yupheng. And I know that you will lead them along the plenty younger ones to a bright future as you have with us older threes. Well, Mong finally found a job and has been teaching for the past 2 years. She complains times to times but I just finally learnt to deal with it. It is after all a stressful job to deal with kids eight hours a day and then coming back home to deal with stubborn teenagers. Even I find it hard coming home after work dealing with rude customers sometimes. But a job is a job. Continue reading “Letters not send, #2”

Giving Thanks

Earlier I published a post concerning about my guest submissions. Well, I received a few more submissions today and of course yesterday. Luckily I found a few good ones to share. Here’s the first.

Submitted by Ariella

It’s almost that time of the year again that families gather together to give thanks to all the precious gifts we have earned in life. Three years ago around this time my family have lost a precious person, our great grandfather. When I was little he would sit around by the fireplace and tell us stories back from the days of the Nazis. My family is Jewish and my great grandfather along with his older brother survived. Of course, like most any other children we wouldn’t care much about his stories. We were too concerned about these cool electronic gadgets and hanging out with friends. On some days my great grandfather would asked us to give him massages and of course most of the time we would tried to scattered away.

There’s that saying “You only know what you have after you lost it” that is exactly how I feel on some of these lonely autumn days. Before I left for college, every day after we all came home from school my great grandfather would be sitting outside on the front porch in his rocking chair. He would wave to us as we get off the school bus and asked us how school was. Of course, we would just be like “great” and walk inside. Even after I left for college he would sometimes called me and I would find it annoying as I wanted to spend more time with my friends instead.

My great grandfather was always a strong man and energetic one too. I thought he would always live forever since he was so bright. And because my grandpa passed away before he did. Until one day I received a phone call that from my younger siblings that he passed away due to cardiac arrest. I was shocked at the news and couldn’t even speak to my friends for days.

Now that I think about it my great grandfather was the best gift ever from God and I just didn’t realize it. My parents both work so they were never home, we were always left with my great grandfather and he practically raised all of us up, all ten of us. Every Thanksgiving my family and I always make sure to gather my great grandfather’s grave to get our blessings and to thank God for such a precious gift.

Memory Lane

Taken by my best friend and cottage mate Jennifer during Fall/Winter semester of 2014. The three of us went to downtown Raleigh that day for a nice walk in the snow. And decided to take some pictures that show how much we love each other. Sadly, not everyone in my cottage went. Maritza stayed behind to study only to figure out that classes were delayed so she didn’t have her test the following day. Brenda, was stuck at home. The girl only live thirty minutes away. And Kyndall was out with some of our other friends.

Hello Followers,

How do you like my picture above? I actually didn’t take it this time, it was taken by one of  my good friend Jennifer. And the picture is from our senior year. I was actually very happy that it snow during my senior year because it was more memorable. While I was in college it barely snow during school days, but when I came back home it would snow. And I was quite sad as me and my friends were not able to play and enjoy the snow together. However, it snow my senior year and we were all very happy. As that night everyone was just gathering outside for snowball fights and celebrating for having a whole week off. We did in fact have a whole week off and a few more days off afterwords. Of course, by then everyone got annoyed being behind schedules, having to push up or double the work loads and exams.  Continue reading “Memory Lane”

Lost in Thoughts


Last fall my friend, who was my roommate for two years and suitemate  last year, we decided to went out in downtown Raleigh on a nice beautiful afternoon to take some pictures. Actually, I was the photographer and she was my muse. And photography was an interest that we both share besides other common hobbies. Earlier this morning as I was cleaning and removing some files off my laptop’s memory, I came upon some of our fall photo shoots from that day. As I look out my window, I realize that today resembles that very day by the colors and temperature. It is and was a beautiful day today and that very day. I scroll down the pictures to reminisce the past to make myself happier and this very picture (posted above) caught my attention.

After my friend and I were done with our little journey, we came back to the dorm. I was editing my pictures while she was making hot chocolate for the both of us. I show her the pictures and we both agree that the picture above was the best one out of the bunch. What intrigues me so much about the picture was how my friend just look lost in her thought. All I did was simply took the picture and instructed her how I want her to sit and look to the other side. And she told me was just simply doing what I told her, and yet we got the perfect picture of the day.

Today, as I look at it not as the photographer, but as an audience I think to myself “What is she thinking about?” “What does she feels?” “Who or what is she looking at?” And I also ask myself the question, “Do you have the same emotions as she shows in the photo?” or at least somewhat similar to what you thing she’s conveying in the photo? And yes I do. Lately, I’ve been feeling lonely because I really have nothing to do and when I saw this picture again it gave me this lonely feeling that I just can’t explain.

Photography is one of my favorite hobby even though I’m not a professional or carry high quality equipment. I learn how to use my poor camera and online programs to develop the best out of my photos. As I move along maybe one day I can also become a professional photographer, share great photos, or maybe photography will forever be my hobby and I can still share great photos. Who knows? Do you have a favorite hobby? Favorite portrait? Painting? Photo?