Tag Archives: slice of life

Dreams Come True – Taeyang’s White Night Concert in Dallas.

When you are a fan of a Korean group,  you kinda resign yourself to loving their music and admiring them from afar. Because, until recently,  chances that they would have a concert in a city close enough that you could get there without having to sell your kidney to afford it were slim to none. Especially when you lived in a small military town in the middle of nowhere, North Carolina. Nobody comes to NC, it seems.

When Big Bang did their latest (am not saying last, because they will come back from the military and they will tour again as a band, I know it) US Tour in 2015, the closest venue to me was in New Jersey. With the plane ticket, hotel, transportation and the ticket to the show itself, it cost a small fortune. Something I simply couldn’t afford with my more than modest salary and the huge debt problems our family had at the time.

Fast forward two years. I no longer have a family. I paid off most of the debt my dear ex-husband left me with after the divorce, I have a better paying job, and I am no longer in NC. So when I saw that Taeyang would be coming to Dallas with his White Night concert, I actually thought, “Hey, I need to check this out. I could actually afford this, I think.” And I was right. I went to a terrific concert by a terrific performer who is part of my favorite group of all times for about 250 dollars, parking included.

And it was an epic concert and an epic night, let me tell you. It left me exhausted, hurting like I had run a marathon, elated, and absolutely, insanely happy.

The start of this whole adventure was rather stressful though. I have never been to Dallas, but I ventured there by myself with just my trusted Navigon and the concert ticket in my pocket, with no clue where The Bomb Factory actually was. Good thing Dallas is only about 45 minutes away from Fort Worth… on a good day… with moderate traffic… which Friday afternoon wasn’t.

But I had planned for that and left at 3pm, even though the concert wasn’t supposed to start until 7:30pm. Good thing I did too, because my Navigon crapped out as soon as I pulled off the ramp off I-30 in Dallas. I guess all those ramps and interchanges messed up its poor GPS brain, or it couldn’t connect to the satellite anymore, but it started randomly switching routes, rerouting and putting my location on different random roads. Then it sent me in a circle, as if saying, “I got nothing. You’re on your own.” Not a good situation when you are in downtown Dallas in Friday afternoon traffic with no clue where to go.

Picture belongs to Lonnie Easterling.

So I pulled into the first parking lot I saw and tried to resuscitate my Navigo. No luck there. I was starting to panic big time by then. I tried Waze, but it said it needed to install some critical update and left me high and dry while it proceeded to do just that. All I can say is thank God for Google maps! When all my other devices and apps failed, Google maps picked up my route and took me straight to the Bomb Factory.

That’s where the second part of the nightmare started. I had no clue how hard it was to find a parking spot next to the venue. The parking lot by the Bomb Factory is the size of a handkerchief, and by the time I got there at 4:15pm, it was full and all entrances had been closed. There were countless cars circling around the block trying to find a spot, any spot to park.  Now keep in mind that most of the streets around there are one-way and that this was my first time there. I was getting more and more lost trying to find a place I could leave my car for 6-7 hours and still find it in one piece afterwards. But my guardian angel must have been looking over my that day, because after about 20 minutes of erratic driving that puzzled the locals (hey, I still have my NC tags, can’t they see I’m a tourist?), I managed to sneak into the last empty spot in a tiny parking lot three blocks away from the venue. Double score: the parking fee was only 5 dollars for the night, AND they accepted cards.

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find my car after the concert, since it would be dark and I had circled the block so many times that I got completely turned around. That’s where Google Maps came to my rescue yet again. I simply marked the location of my car, then let Google Maps walk me to the  Bomb Factory … Where I waited for the next two and a half hours for the doors to open along with over a thousand other fans.

This is where I must say that the entry system at the Bomb Factory wasn’t very organized. There were supposed to be three lines – Platinum, Platinum 1 and Platinum 2. Well, the only signs for that were right by the doors, so even a few steps further back, it all became one big pile where nobody knew which line they were supposed to be in. As a result, there was an hour delay with getting everyone into the venue and the concert started 30 minutes late as well.

But I must give a big round of applause to all the VIPs I stood in line with that day. Despite the confusion, the delays, and standing for almost three hours in Texas heat, the mood never turned sour. Everybody bore this with good humor. We were swapping stories, songs and personal experiences. I heard a lot of laughter and not a single angry voice in that crowd. I was also surprised to see that only maybe 40 percent of the crowd looked Asian. Most fans were of Caucasian descent, like me. And we were also an older crowd than I thought. I had been afraid that at almost 40, I would stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd of excited teenage girls, but I wasn’t the only one there in that age group.

But then the doors finally opened and the concert started and as soon as Taeyang stepped on that stage, all the hardships of the day were forgotten.

The Stage. Taeyang is about to make his entrance.

What can I tell you about this concert that hasn’t been said about any of Big Bang concerts (either as a full group or as solo artists) before? It was awesome. It was breathtaking. It was elating. Uplifting. And it was over too soon, even though it lasted three hours and two encores.

Taeyang started the concert with Ringa Linga, which is one of my favorite songs as well as my ringtone. I tried to record some of the songs, but I wasn’t close enough to the stage to get a very good view (plus at 5’5″, I was one of the shorter people in the crowd), so I’m sorry for the quality of my videos. But you can still see and feel the incredible energy and the excitement of the audience.

Taeyang is a true performer. He knows how to grab the crowd’s attention and keep it. He has an incredible presence. He seems larger than life up there on that stage, all dressed in white. But he also manages to make this performance very personal, almost intimate, especially when he talked to us about his hopes and aspirations, about his new album White Night (that you can purchase on ITunes and Google Play btw), and about his relationship with other members of Big Bang.

He performed songs from his new album, but also his older songs that we know and love, like Wedding Dress and Love you to Death.

He also sang Big Bang songs like Bang Bang Bang and Fantastic Baby, and Good Boy. The crowd went wild at those, me included. The most touching moment was when he sang Last Dance (which I sadly didn’t record) while playing piano, then talked about what Big Bang and the other members meant to him, and go so emotional he had to wipe tears from his eyes.

I love that at all their solo concerts, they always take the time to mention the other members of Big Bang. You can really see that they consider each other as brothers, not just band members. They’ve been together for over 10 years after all. Taeyang and G-Dragon have known each other for most of their adult life, since they were trainees together before they debuted…

Big Bang – Made album

After an amazing three hours and two encores, Taeyang closed the show with my absolute favorite song – Eyes, Nose, Lips.

You can hear the crowd of regular Americans singing along in Korean, which is absolutely amazing to me and very uplifting.

After the concert was over, I felt so light and happy, like I had wings growing from my back. So thank you, Taeyang, for an incredible show and a burst of positive energy that will last me for a good long while.

All I can say in conclusion is that I feel Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing! Last video is not mine. The song belongs to Taeyang and YG entertainment. I took the video on Kpop Blog Youtube Channel.

Getting back in the saddle.

Hibernating-BRB

I spent most of my month of December in a slump. Like I had said in my previous post, I might as well have hibernated during those 31 days because I couldn’t scrap up even an ounce of motivation to do anything. Needless to say that my writing suffered from that slump as well.

 

Oh, I still managed to put some words on the page every now and then, so I wouldn’t feel too awfully guilty. I could tell my conscience, See, there’s some new words, so hush now. Problem was that those were maybe 200-300 words a day. So I had written 50k words in the month of November and barely 15k in the whole of December. That’s a DRASTIC fall in productivity for me.

 

So on January 1st, I finally pulled out my Excel word count spreadsheet that I hadn’t touched since sometimes in the beginning of December and updated it with the pitiful word counts I’ve had. The results were rather depressing. If I kept going at this rate, I wouldn’t be done with the first draft of Shadow Hunters until end of March. And that provided that I manage to wrap it up in 100k words, which I never do on first drafts.

 

Now I don’t have a deadline or a publisher breathing down my neck. There is no editor waiting to tear into my draft. Technically,  I could take as much time as I want. I used to enjoy that freedom, but I think it’s done me a disservice in this instance – it made me too complacent.

Lack of Motivation
Lack of Motivation

Yes, I could putter around with the draft, adding 200-300 words here and there and finish the damn story just in time to start a new one for NaNoWriMo 2016. But I have other writing goals for 2016, like editing and rewriting other works, writing several short stories, and publishing at least one book. I can’t accomplish any of these if I drag my feet.

 

So I gave myself a mental kick in the butt and set myself a hard deadline. I need to finish Shadow Hunters by February 15th. This means I need to write at least 800 words per day every day until then, no matter what. No matter how I feel, no matter how (un)motivated I am, I will sit my butt in that chair and I won’t take my fingers off the keyboard until those 800 words are on the page. And I will make sure to update my spreadsheet everyday as well to keep track of my progress.

 

Setting up that deadline actually worked wonders for my motivation too. I had written more in the past 4 days than in the 10 last days of 2015. And I actually feel excited about my writing and my story again. It’s not just meh, need to kick that can down the road anymore. It’s wow, let’s see what shit I can land my poor characters in this time. Rubs her hands together with an evil grin at that thought

Accountability

And since I’m finally out of my slump, the motivation to write blog posts is also back! So expect regular updates on this site once again and the return of book reviews every Friday. I have at least good books screaming to be reviewed right now.

 

I am so sorry to all my readers that I let the blog fall by the wayside in the past few months. I could give the excuse of work and NaNo and winter blues, but the reality is that there is no excuse. It was just plain laziness on my part. I will do better in 2016.

 

Pfew, that’s it for my 2016 resolutions. How about you, my loyal readers, what resolutions will you set up for this new year?

Can I just hibernate till spring?

Lack of Motivation
Lack of Motivation

You might have wondered where I had disappeared to lately since I haven’t been very active on my blog: a couple of measly posts here and there, no book reviews to speak off… I’m very sorry about that! It’s just that I found it very hard to scrap up any motivation to do pretty much anything lately.

Call it winter blues, call it post-NaNo burnout, or even blame it on an insanely busy work schedule, but either way all I want to do is go into hibernation and wake up when it’s spring and everything is flowering again. And the sun doesn’t set at 5pm right when I get off work, when it even deigns to grace us with its presence at all. It’s only mid-December, and I’m already tired of the gray and the early dark. I want my sunshine back!

I think I wouldn’t mind winter as much if nature made up its mind and it was, you know, actually winter. Give me the cold weather and the snow and all the other good wintery stuff. But even that’s not the case this year! It’s 35 degrees one day and 70 the next, then back into the 40s, then oh, never mind, it’s 75 again.

Winter is coming or not

My poor rose bushes have no idea what to do about this weather, and the azaleas are trying to flower. I mean it’s 75 degrees outside today… on December freaking 15th! We had a bona fide summer thunderstorm yesterday. No wonder half the people at work are sick.

So since the beginning of December, I had been pretty much coasting on autopilot. I have a first draft to finish. I have several other books to edit, one of which I want to publish in March. I have books to read and review. I have good TV shows to watch. I have cross stitching projects that have been neglected for too long… Yet all I do when I get off work is sit and watch the grass try to grow in the middle of December while I listen to K-pop, and wonder if I should break out the riding mower or let the (hopefully) coming frost kill it. And then go to bed early because even that is exhausting.

But hey, the situation isn’t as dire as I made it sound! I’m still working on the first draft of Shadow Hunters, even though I went from writing 2k words a day to about 400-600 words. But speed is not as important as consistency, right? And the will to stick with it to the bitter end. I’ll get it done, winter slump be damned.

I have read two very good books this month as well, but I can’t post my reviews yet because they won’t be officially released until February 2016. I was lucky enough to get the ARCs (advance reader copies) of them through NetGalley. So look forward to those reviews (and books) closer to February.

I have also watched some excellent TV series, though I tend to favor Asian dramas lately. One of them, called White Christmas, stood out so much that I even posted a review of it a while back. And I’m planning on doing a marathon rewatch of it for Christmas, which only shows how much I liked the show.

So to paraphrase Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett’s excellent Discworld series, “I aten’t dead.” Now can we just skip this whole winter deal and get on with spring?

i-atent-dead

Happy Two Year Anniversary!

fireworks

I can’t believe I almost missed the two year anniversary of my blog! I was so busy getting ready for NaNoWriMo and dealing with the looney bin my workplace had transformed into because we are having a switch of command. Good thing I logged on the site and noticed a nice little reminder WordPress sent me today…

Two years… Wow. When I started this blog back in 2013, right before I was gathering the courage for my first ever NaNoWriMo, I would never have imagined that I would still be here two years later. I had imagined that I would either get bored with the blog or run out of ideas to write about. Or simply get tired of it.

But I’m still here two years later. Still writing and still blogging and (hopefully) not repeating myself too much. Though I must admit that this is a bigger commitment than I first imagined. When I created the Tower of Winds, I had promised myself that I would update it regularly, at least twice, but no less than once a week. Well, trying to balance that, full time work and my writing as well had been challenging at times.

champagne

And my regular readers might have noticed that I have slipped a bit in the past few months, especially in the book review department. I am sorry about that. Life got in the way and my reading speed slowed down to a crawl. I promise to resume my regular schedule of Friday reviews soon!

When I first started this blog, I also had only a very vague notion of how much time and effort writing a post required. It’s hard to write a good post that is both funny and informative. You don’t want to bore your readers, but you want to leave them with the feeling that they learned something useful as well. And you need to try and cram all your thoughts into a thousand words or less as well, because you risk to lose your reader if your post drags on and on and on.

It’s also hard to come up with a good topic for a post sometimes. There are weeks when I know exactly what I want to discuss and my fingers fly over the keyboard because I can’t wait to share my thoughts with my readers. But there are also weeks when I stare at the blank screen for hours thinking, “Now what? Is this it? Did I really run out of ideas?” Good news is, an idea always pops into my head eventually, at least so far…

And while blogging is hard work sometimes, I also love it. It gives me a different medium to express my thoughts; to share my fears and doubts by also my joys and achievements with like-minded people.

happy-2nd-birthdayX

So Happy Two Year Anniversary to the Tower of Winds! I hope that you will stick with me and my ramblings for the next two years as well. Now I’m going to pour a glass of wine and celebrate this properly.

Take me to the Air Show!

Wings over Wayne

I have never been to an Air Show. Considering that I have lived next to an Air Force base for the past seven years, this is inexcusable. Though I might add that we didn’t even have an air show in our little town in the past 5 years, thanks to the budget cuts our current administration inflicted on our military.

 

So when I learned that Wings over Wayne would finally take place this May, I decided that I had to go. After all, that’s something new and exciting, and it could be considered as research, right? What if I decide to write about pilots or something? So with that excuse in mind, I spent my whole Sunday on the flat line, watching planes take off and do amazing things. Oh, and I saw the Thunderbirds! Up close too! And it was AWSOME!!!

 

Ahem. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

 

We wanted to go to the Air Show on Saturday, but when we saw the line of stopped cars 3 miles away from the gates, we turned around, went to Lowe’s instead and spent the whole day creating a vegetable garden in the backyard. Turned out to be a rather productive day, actually, and I might even have some cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and squash this summer, unless I manage to kill them. Which is a lot more probable. Green thumb I do not have.

 

Anyway, it’s a good thing that we didn’t try to get to the Air show that day, because the whole town was gridlocked most of the morning and then again in the evening with people trying to get to the base and to leave it after the show. I heard that the Highway was at a standstill up to ten miles outside of town!

 

So we were wise enough to wait until the next day and go there early. We were also lucky that the company I work for had a VIP boot right at the flight line, so I volunteered to man it on Sunday. This let us park on the Vendor parking and get there before the crowds.

 

And as that was my first air show, I thought that everything on the program was amazing.

The paratroopers did some acrobatics in mid-air that shouldn’t be possible on a planet with gravity. First they stacked their parachutes into a 4-man-tall formation, then they turned the bottom one upside down to drag like a tail behind the formation. Then they separated and landed within a few feet from each other and the big X painted on the ground. And all of them have hundreds of jumps under their belt. I mean how? You would have to push me out kicking and screaming even for my first one, and it would probably be my last one, because there is no way I get into a plane with you ever again.

 

I loved the TORA! TORA! TORA! reenactment of the Japanese attack on pearl harbor. It had a lot of WWII planes and explosion and an excellent soundtrack. I don’t envy the fire brigades who had to make sure that the jet fuel they burned to simulate the explosions didn’t get out of hand and burn half the base, especially since it was a very warm day.

They also did a joint forces combat simulation with F-15s, Warhogs, Bombers and paratroopers and simulated aerial combat. That was impressive in itself, but the thing that completely floored me was at the very end of that simulation.

 

All of the planes except for the two F-15s had already landed, when the presenter said, “Now we will show you the fastest way a fighter plane can get to the right altitude for landing. This particular maneuver is designed to reduce the time they spend on low altitude and in range of ground to air weapons to a minimum.”

 

And those planes are rather high up right now, so I think, no way they can descend fast enough to land in one pass.

 

Then the two F-15s flip upside down, point the nose straight towards the ground and dive from 4000 feet to about 700 feet. Then they turn back to horizontal and are ready for landing. And I pick my jaw off the floor.

 

But the Thunderbirds put everything else that came before them to shame. Their performance was… out of this world, that’s all I can say. I didn’t know it was possible to make a plane, even a fighter plane, do what they did. Not at those speeds and that altitude. And they also made it look so easy…

Flying in perfect diamond formation and then the four planes do a perfect synchronized Aileron Roll without breaking formation. Who do they do that? Or when two planes fly on above the other, one of them flips upside down and they almost touch cabins…

I would have taken more videos, but my phone died halfway through their presentation AND I was too busy gawking with my head turned to the sky to even remember to start the recording. Plus they are so darn fast!

Anyway, consider me amazed, awed and happy to have spent a day at the Air Show! Even if that’s research I might never use for my writing.