Category Archives: Short Stories

Seoul Pride Fest, June 2016

Prior to heading out to the festivities on Saturday morning, 11 June, I had searched for more details on Google about the activities that would take place so I could send the address and event line-up to some friends stationed at other camps here in South Korea. In doing so, I read that over 30,000 people attended the pride parade in 2015. I was amazed because I had never been to a pride that large (to my knowledge). I don’t know whether the prides in Georgia or Florida I’d been to had held nearly as many attendees. It made me more excited because I knew this was going to be a huge event with lots of big entertainment and plenty of people from all over the world. It ended up being even more than I imagined.

That morning we had a nice little brunch at The Baker’s Table before heading over to Myeongdong. Once we arrived at the area where Seoul Plaza was at, which is near City Hall, I started to realize something as we came around the corner towards the event location. The streets were lined on both sides with hundreds of police men and women, many of which were holding riot shields. It was so overwhelming that I didn’t even realize they were actually in place for the event WE were headed to attend. There were older civilian people gathered sitting on the sidewalks holding up signs as well as people in suits talking into megaphones. But it was all in Korean so it took me and my American companions a bit to realize these were the anti-gay and Christian protesters, and that the police were there to protect people. Never in my life…

Most people around us that were walking to the fest as well didn’t seem phased at all by whatever the protesters were saying, which is another reason why I didn’t realize that their efforts were aimed at us. We’re in a city and hey they could’ve been protesting anything, I thought. The closer we got to the entrance of the festival, the worse it got. Protesters seemed more angry, combative, and aggressive going toward the fest. But the worst of it all in my opinion was the yelling and moaning of a pastor across the street over a loud speaker. It sounded like the voice of a demon or ghost wailing over the audio system, and at times it was louder than the actual concert we were at inside the fest. These people protesting were causing more of a ruckus than the attendees! It truly stirred my soul. We even saw a car try to drive into the crosswalk as we were crossing. Luckily, the crosswalks were also lined with police officers and they quickly jumped in to make the car back up off of the crosswalk lines.

These protesters that held up crosses and pictures of Jesus Christ and their Holy Bibles were the same ones growling and gritting their teeth at us like they were a pack of wild dogs. I honestly didn’t feel safe and I remember telling the person next to me, “My mom would not like this. If she knew I was at a place like this, she wouldn’t be happy about it.” And I actually wasn’t referring to the type of fest. A “queer” fest. I was moreso referring to the situation in which our safety was at risk…

I have never felt threatened like this. And it’s a shame! The people who called themselves Christians at this event were ready to spit on people walking to and from the event. I made eye contact with some of them unfortunately, and it said to me, “If I could kill you and get away with it, I would.” I’m not even exaggerating. Not one bit. Such an event where people from different nations and backgrounds come together to celebrate the uniqueness of each individual was interrupted by evil, hateful persons who used the name of Jesus to throw curses upon the guests. I feel bad for both sides – the people attending the event who don’t know God as well as the people who were protesting who claim they know God. No one is going to win. They’re only going to push away the gay community with their rioting and curses. They are being everything but Godly. And I’m not saying I’m a saint. And I’m not saying homosexuality is not a sin. I’m saying that there are people using Christ as a means to hate others. I personally have never seen anything like this.

And then to wake up two mornings later to hear that 50 people were killed in a gay club in Orlando, Florida is horrific. So far I have not heard that anyone I know personally was in that club at the time. But the first thing that came to mind was that could have been us. An anti-gay shooter or terrorist could surely have emerged from the crowds at any time and injured or killed any of us on Saturday.

This is all so gross and evil. I am shaking just remembering how much hate was outside those festival gates on Saturday, on top of thinking of all the people that were killed at Pulse yesterday. No one deserves to suffer or die by your hand because you don’t believe what they believe in. Leave that up to the real judge when we all have to answer to Him at the end of our lives. It isn’t anybody’s job to kill someone else because the color of our skin, the person we worship, or the people we are in love with.



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Food is Love

Food is a big deal to me and my family. I mostly grew up in a household of four – my parents, my sister, and myself. If our parents weren’t outside doing yardwork or relaxing watching HGTV, they were in the kitchen. And so were we – either doing homework, practicing an instrument, or just socializing.

My daddy grew up in south Florida with a father who was a very popular African-American chef and who was very well and widely recognized for his culinary talents. Dad picked up on this art and even spent some time as a cook in the military. As a retiree, he often dreamed of opening up his own restaurant or food truck. My family very much so encouraged this idea because we just love his cooking – especially his homemade barbeque sauces and hot sauces. He hasn’t hit this goal yet but for now you can often find him serving soldiers from his mobile meat smoker on Fort Gordon or BBQing for church members at functions. Then mom, she was born and raised on the island of Palau from where she brought to us her traditional dishes – my favorite being pork, chicken, and fish wrapped together in banana leaves, slow-cooked then served with rice and tapioca root. She also spent some of her Army career as a cook. (It is safe to assume they met in the military and married after much courtship.)

We all are definitely a family of foodies. We won’t turn our nose up to a certain culture’s food traditions. We will try anything. Except this one time as a teen I watched my mom eat a small octopus in just one bite at a Japanese spot and Lord I just wasn’t having it!

In college, sadly I didn’t do much cooking myself. I was the “typical” college kid that had fast food, campus food, ate Ramen, or got wings delivered to my apartment late night. (Shout out to Don Corleones Pizza & Wings joint on Lanier Drive!)

Now as an adult I think back to the structure of my household (especially when considering a mate), one of those major pillars of the home being food. It brings me joy when I can get together with friends and have a potluck or to sit in someone’s backyard spening the day grilling it up or to try a new recipe at home from Pinterest (whether nail or fail). Why is it so important to me? Why does it make me so happy?

I believe food brings people together. As a kid my favorite holiday was always Thanksgiving. I would’ve picked Thanksgiving over Christmas and my own birthday! I still would. On Thanksgiving, people take a break from their busy worlds and come together over a big meal. It isn’t about one person or about spending money on gifts. It’s about everybody. People are more willing to go out of their way to come together, even from far distances. There is laughter, raw conversation, and pure fun…undeniable union…there’s love.

I have to have friends and especially a mate who understands that. If you don’t get food, you don’t get me. I am actually appalled that there are still adults out there who havent had the opportunity to truly love on food. Or they’ve had the chance but they still choose fast food over homemade food…which is equivalent to me as choosing CONVENIENCE OVER LOVE. Eating take-out food most likely wont teach your children how to set the table and serve each other the way preparing a home-cooked meal would. Won’t teach them to clean up after themselves or how to choose from different food groups, etc.

Speaking of choosing food, am I the only one who still believes in this “old-fashioned” idea: parents include vegetables on your dinner plate or make a dish you just don’t like…if you don’t like it, you don’t have a choice. You’d better finish eating it or you go to bed hungry. Lol! Boy, me and Brussels sprouts did NOT get along. I tried the trick of chewing it up to a mush and hiding it in my balled-up napkin. Only worked for so long.

I could go on and on about how much healthier and cost-efficient eating at home could be versus eating out all the time. But then I’d be shifting my topic moreso toward one of saving money or eating better. Neh, this is about unity.

Another way that food brings people together is in the community. Until you volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate food to a homeless shelter, until you see the look on the face of a needy child or mother, you don’t know the joy of giving. I remember my mom dropped Jade and I off at a food drive building in downtown Augusta one summer and told us to help the staff for a few hours. They had us sorting canned goods for what seemed like all day with only one snack break. I kind of had an attitude. I didn’t let it show of course, but I remember feeling some type of way. Like, Why did she drop us off here at some dusty warehouse? It’s hot!

My mom was like that. She would make us do things or establish house rules and not explain the purpose or importance of them. I don’t agree with it but that’s her child-rearing style and I love her. She was the do-what-I-say-because-I-said-so type. It made me quite the rebel. If she would have just explained to us as preteens that we were giving back to the community and that it was for a purpose, we would have served with tender love instead of throwing cans of green beans from box to box. And maybe I wouldn’t have gotten mad when she made us take the trash bags to the dumpster at the close of church functions when all the other kids were still playing. Like, Why am I picking up people’s paper plates and dirty napkins when everybody else’s kids are running around playing tag and what not.

What all this boils down to is that the making and the serving of food is love… And if you haven’t already heard of it, Dixie® launched a movement last year with the hashtag #DarkforDinner which I absolutely fell in love with. They want to break the trend and remove the electronic distractions from the traditional setting of the dinner table to get families to gather for the meal and remember that the focus should be on each other and not things. Check it out below:







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Sophia Gets Ripped in Public

Before I begin my story, I have to introduce Gaoqing, whose American nickname is Sophia. As a foreign exchange student, she was my roommate at our Campus Courtyard apartment one school year. I must say that, out of all the roommates I have had, Sophia is my favorite. She was very sweet and caring, extremely smart, and had a contagious smile. If I ever find myself in China, I wouldn’t leave without looking her up first.

I’m getting bored with these flash cards, studying for final exams. I wonder where Sophia is. She’s usually home around this time.


She awkwardly busts through our front door. I look up at her from where I’m sitting at the bar in the kitchen. I can’t really determine if she was running from a dog, or what…

“Uh, what’s wrong??” I ask.

Every day it’s something new with Sophia. So I can’t wait to hear this.

“Oh, Jasmine. I have had a troubled day.”

I continue staring. I want her to spill it. Everything that comes out of her mouth just amuses me. For such a tiny person, she’s so full of entertainment. The best part is that it’s accidental.

Out of breath she asks, “Have you sold your text books back yet?”

I don’t know what that has to do with anything but I nod my head, still with a face full of confusion.

“Well, first I didn’t know whether to sell mine to the University Store or on Amazon or to the man on the corner,” she begins.

The “man on the corner” is one of the independent book buyers that pitches tents, or trucks, on the busiest campus corners trying to get students to sell their text books back to them for cash. It’s not unusual. They do it at the end of every semester.

So she’s frantic and looking at me like she is trying to pull info from me. But I’m still trying to figure out what the heck is up with HER!

“Calm down,” I chuckle. “What happened?”

“I am so afraid of getting ripped off. So I hurried home.” She plops on the couch.

“It’s no biggie, Sophia. They rip people off every year. It just depends on whether you are willing to shop around and then sell your books to whoever offers you the most money.”

She instantly goes from a finally-calm to a wide-eyed crazy again. “This is okay in America?!”

“Yeah, I guess. It’s not illegal or anything-”

She interrupts, “They can rip people off in the daylight and no one will do ANYTHING to stop them?!”

I’m not confused anymore. I am concerned. ‘Cause she really needs to take a chill pill at this point.


She’s making ME nervous for no reason.

“Jasmine, have you been ripped before?” I love the look on her face right now. It’s one of those naive, innocent faces she often makes.

She can be just so cute and angelic. But I put my homework down and sit next to her on the couch.

“I’m sure I have but it was only for a couple of dollars.”


Then a piece of dust must’ve gotten stuck in her eye because I could swear her eyes are starting to look watery.

And nothing I said thus far is sad, so…

“There are so many things in America I don’t understand.” Whenever she says this, it tells me that there is a serious cultural misunderstanding here.

“What’s the problem though? The guys on the corner are just trying to make a living. It’s probably their part time job.” I shrug and start to stand up again. “Just sell your books online. No biggie.”

“Ripping is just not right. Especially to women. Taking advantage of us against our will.”

…crickets again…

“Wait, RAPE?” In my head, I’m like Omigod, noooo…

“Yes. Rip.”

“NO! Rape is not the same as rip!”

“It sounds exactly the same to me. Rip.”

“Wait, so this whole time you have been talking about rape?”

She looks so lost, like when those squirrels are in the middle of the road trying to decide if they want to go ahead and cross or just risk getting hit. I swear she is so hilarious to me.

“So someone told you that the men on the corner RIP people off for their books and you are thinking they meant rape??”

“Yes. It is the same word, isn’t it?”

I kindly explain to her what being “ripped off” means.

After I kindly bust out in laughter.

Sophia starts to see the humor in it too and finally allows herself to laugh as well.

I get up and walk back to what I was doing in the kitchen, rubbing my belly recovering from that painfully funny convo.

“You can relax, girl. Nobody’s getting raped today.”

(Jasmine Stewart)

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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Short Stories

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