[BREAKING NEWS] Active Shooter at Dupont Circle

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3:15pm: About 24 police cars and multiple FBI present at 1350 Connecticut Ave NW.

3:30pm: Dupont Circle metro station section locked down. Washington Post reports there are no victims nor gunman found.

3:45pm: According to the building security (above Panera), there is a hostage situation. All people nearby are asked to return to their offices.

3:50pm: Circle opened to public traffic, waiting on further news.

My live tweets were featured in the Washington Post News:

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See Washington Post Report here.

DC Police searched the building floor by floor, finding no gunman nor affected victims. Dupont Circle is currently open to public and traffic is back to normal.

“Liars, cheaters, traitors”

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I have recently been challenged to stay silent about something that I view as so wrong. I’d think it would be considered terribly wrong by every single person on earth.

Then I realized, this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen someone being lied to, betrayed or graciously cheated on.

“Oh, I will stop once we get together anyway,”

“Avery knows about it, Avery is okay with it,”

“I just need the attention, that’s all”

Two truths and a lie? Or a dump of lies? I’ll let you decide. I was the one to believe a lot of kind words, too and I have fallen asleep thinking I have been waited on. I survived, but one question remains: Why do people cheat?

Blake, simply explained she liked to be around males, she liked the male energy. She lied to the people she knew, saying the seven guys she meets weekly were very cool friends (only). I hoped they were friends. But, she did not have any emotions attached as she was hurting them, and they were not aware that she was married. She is still married, and Avery has no clue.

I constantly deal with her hiding seven different partners from her husband whom I never met. Blake says Avery is loving, kind and makes her a better person. I wondered if this was because she was away from Avery that she became a bad person? Has this been on-going or has just started because they are apart? What do I do about it?

Ideally, I would shut the fuck up and live my life. But, the stupid person that I am, I have all this information in my brain and yet have been suffering from anxieties and feeling like shit. Things I do not understand make me feel like shit. Injustice makes me feel like shit. Having to stay silent when these things happen around me, certainly make me feel like shit. I cannot stand idle.

Here is a rundown. When I personally went through a similar situation, the person I thought I loved had a tough childhood. I tried to become the band-aid and he ripped it off and threw it away, stayed silent and left me lingering. Injustice.

One of Blake’s guys, the number four, found out she was married. Blake told the number four she was in process of divorcing. She did this to keep sleeping over at his place, playing games. Injustice.

Another friend of mine, Jared, loved his girlfriend, but not her body. He kept talking about other girls he would see and how beautiful they were. Not even using the term sexy, which would remind me of lust more than anything. His girlfriend was older, he kept trying to break it off with her. She was insecure, but I think he was scared to be alone. His mind would always linger, I never knew if he cheated but I knew he lied. Injustice.

Why do people cheat?

I’d go as far as to say: Skewed moral compass. Although it cannot justify any of these stories, it can mean that there is somewhere along the way these people struggled to know what was right and what was wrong. Society, especially American society, is so focused on having individual freedoms that it is hard to agree on moral actions anymore. If it is right to have six other guys on the side for Blake, maybe I am stupid to worry about something as small as returning a coin to the metro station merchant. All I know is, it is wrong to hurt other people. If it would cause the guy dropping his coin to not have enough money for dinner, for me to take it away would be simply injustice. It would hurt Avery to find out about Blake, injustice.

Liars, cheaters, traitors. They are all around. Do not stay silent if you know it is hurting someone.

Future

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3 am: Woken up by external noises. 4 hours long “The Best of Classical Music” on YT. Headphones on because external noises are louder and more consistent. Steam is downloading “Civilization V” demo. Oops, it’s completed. I’ll be right back.

Legit 3 am: I was overexaggerating how late it was before. I am surprised my computer can run Sid Meier’s greatest treasure, considering it is a baby gaming computer. Well, thank you, computer Gods. Getting 15 mins into the game, I heard a familiar Turkish hymn melody in the background, ‘Come, see what love has done to me. Like the river rapids raging for eons, my worrisome heart wrecked on the rocky shore. Master’s away I’m withering. Come, see what Love has done to me’.

Future. Thinking about future is like thinking about God, death or thinking about the fact that I am traveling over 24 hours to an unknown place, all alone. Or I am 4 years old again, having to read a poem in front of the kindergarten parents. Not thinking about it, finding or pushing myself into it. Possibly freaking out the moment of, then, the prevalent feeling. All is gone, comes tranquility. I have done that very many times, so it is a familiar friend to me.

 

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A piece of artwork that represents future to me. ARTECHOUSE, DC.

 

Making decisions have never been easy for me. Some people struggle to choose between an Oreo mint and strawberry cheesecake milkshake, but they can make life-changing decisions very easily. Some people do it the other way. I genuinely struggle if I think. So, I don’t.

I have been putting it away and up the shelf lately, so I don’t reach it, and I can’t think it. I have also been eating sugary wonderful treats because I am a stress eater. No big news here.

Growing up, I was told not to ask so many questions about creation, or the creator, because it would lead me to a rabbit hole. It would be a mind trap. I just needed to believe without a subsistent reason. I think that is how the future should be too. At least, for me.

I do not know the way, don’t know where it will take me, don’t know how it will get me there, don’t know who will be there with me at the end of the road, don’t know how to plan it because there is no plan.

Re-reading the above is overwhelming… I praise living your life to the fullest, but when you have everything, how narrow can you squish your future into a lens that will be fulfilling?

How to Succeed in the Real World

 

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Freaky stairs. Dupont Circle Station.

 

Let’s quickly go through what is happening right now. It is 5 a.m. in the morning, I am not a crazy person to be up at this hour, and my brain is working relatively slowly since I stared at the screen for 2 mins before opening a word document. I am fascinated by the fact that I could hear a train passing by the Union station. The noise of the wheels hitting the rails harshly, I enjoyed. Very similar to what my heart experiences. Hitting the rails pretty harshly… moving, hurting, learning.

Here are some tips for survival,

  • Stand with your own truths.

This is a big deal that I hope you do not have to find it the wrong way. When I was 18, I messed up quite a lot of times. Freshmen year at university, I messed up a million times. I figured it out on my own that other people’s truths do not have to be mine. They can make all the Goddamn decisions, I might judge a tiny bit, but I do not let it stick with me. Be in the moment, in the conference room, in the club, observe but keep generating your own thoughts. Be authentic, make a mess if it helps you learn, but find out your own way. Be the outsider, do not blend, make it colorful.

  • Stretch

While having your own beautiful ideas, it is important to not be so uptight. It is hard for me to change my ideas about things I truly believe in. But there are people out there that are convincing. That is why it is important to get up and stretch it out. Go beyond your own boundaries, I am not saying do things because other people want you to. Make yourself uncomfortable for the sake of learning, I swear it’s great. Live a little. Explore other ideas but keep your own.

  • Take the suit to the dry cleaner.

Or in Kendrick Lamar’s words, be humble. Nobody likes a big nose up in the air, swaying side to side type of person. I am not saying you are worthless, I am simply saying that the world does not revolve around you. Once you realize that, things get a lot easier. I walk to work every day seeing homeless people laying under thin blankets, trying to keep warm.  I try to ask the security lady in my building how her day was. And, I occasionally take suits to dry cleaning. I cannot say I don’t enjoy getting out of the office for a little while for the way.

  • Think fast, move slow.

Whether it’s the love and hate relationship between you and proofreading or trying to catch the later bus because you are early to work every day (I might be a unique case study for this one), or basically strategic/corporate/business/work related -boring- daily routines… things move slowly sometimes, even if you do not want them to be. Give it time, give it thought, it will not happen in the blink of an eye, but I swear things happen pretty quickly if you stop thinking about them.

  • Know when people do not ask for your advice.

Oh man, I talk too much. If people do not ask for advice, do not give them advice. Quite frankly, they are not asking for it because they just don’t care. Don’t waste your breath on people who are not worth it. They’ll need to go back to step two and stretch before they can hear you. Pro-tip: If you like them enough, be the leaning shoulder and listen. They might be able to find their own way.

Me? I made it to 6.45 am so, I’ll head to work soon. I might need some coffee to get through the day, and I probably won’t be fine. But, you have a good morning for me, will you?

 

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I hang out here when I am early to work. Dupont Fountain.

 

What is going on in the Trumpland?

26828161_10215108623257415_1113191477_oAmerica is shaken by the government shut down, the nation is flying over to District of Columbia to march for their voices, their president plays for the audience, and I, over here, will try to explain what is going on in the Trumpland.

Although there was a significant amount of tension in Washington this week due to the government shutdown, the breaking news coming from the Washington Post clarifies that the President finally “signed the short-term spending bill to fund the government through Feb. 8.”. Additionally, the bill extended Children’s Health Insurance Program and delayed three Obamacare taxes. The parties still seem to have different views about immigration and spending, however, government officials are back to work until it’s time to fight about the issues again, in two weeks time.

The week of the shutdown, there were major events that took place (and still taking place) in DC.  The month of January is facilitated numerous rallies including the major events of this week, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Walk (January 15), March for Life (January 19) and Women’s March (January 20). Some of the upcoming marches include The National People’s March (January 27), Muslim and Refugee Ban: A Year of Resistance March (January 30).

I had the privilege to attend the March for Life, however, could not make it to the Women’s March although I truly support the movement. I have taken the March for Life as a journalistic experience to be able to observe and criticize a view I did not fully support.

There were over 100,000 people with their posters and loud voices in the event as well as speakers that were strongly religious and based their reasons on their faith. By all means, there is nothing wrong with that… but there is also a lot of things wrong with that. In 20th century, it still leaves me speechless government enforcements through faith happens. And it truly shakes me to see that these enforcements take place not only in Middle East or Asia, but also in the United States of America.

Would the practice of abortion, euthanasia or suicide matter if it weren’t forbidden in our religions? Yes, religions set boundaries, but what are the limits of those boundaries?

I have not heard a single speaker addressing a counter argument or at least mentioning the word ‘rape’ or ‘mother’s life at sake’ while they were speaking about abortion. However, they did not forget to talk about how great adoption is. Mind you, adoption is painful in many ways for the children until they feel home, and sometimes they don’t at all.

During his speech, Mr. President made sure he showed off all the glam he brought to America. It felt as if he were trying to win his votes over for his next term ahead of time. I’ll have to admit Trump is a good speaker but has no character.

I suggest attending one of the upcoming rallies in DC if you reside here, and experience the passion, politics and millions clogging the roads through the Washington Monument to the Hill. Do not be afraid to explore views that you struggle with, it is a great opportunity to strongly reaffirm your own stance in the controversies.

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Welcome to the Nation’s Capitol

Hello world,

As I was having a sweet struggle this past week, semi freaking out, majority of my time spent being tired, and walking, watching the views I recognize through the political culture aired through international channels in awe… I was star struck. Or White House struck.

However, sadly, this post is not about how the ceilings of the library of congress were majestically shiny or how I get to wake up, and sleep to the view of the Capitol Building. There is so much yet to be excited about for the next 4 months I will be spending here, but I also need a piece of mind for reflection. So here it goes…

The first few days for me was excitement, meeting so many new faces and recognizing the personalities behind the faces. Second, dilemma between keeping up versus resting. Third, feeling small.

I believe the connections you make happen in the first few days. It may not be your only chance to do so, but you create your own circle, and you circle around it. I started massively loud and ready to charm, got very tired quickly, and went under my shell for peace.

The environment I am in right now is fully supportive, and I am slowly making the shift to saying simple no’s to things I do not enjoy. I am trying to let go of some odd fears and pre-judgements. Trying to remember, not every experience is the same and not all past experience can reflect to future.

I would worry ahead of time, but I am in a scary flow state where I do not worry much here (yet).

I have so much to talk about Washington DC, the history and distinct character of the city, the weather, my wonderful roommates, and my soon to start internship. Much fun awaits…

Like the pilot shouted through the speakers as the plane landed, “Welcome to the nation’s Capitol”.  

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My view every night…

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Comment below if there is anything specific you would like to know about DC for the next post. Otherwise, have a wonderful week.

Philosophy behind the Black Licorice

It’s another Friday. I woke up, almost making it to noon, decided to throw my fitness into trash, and have two cups of peppermint mocha. Today is a milestone. I hate peppermint, I swear I do, but the Starbucks instant-mocha I had at home changed things up for me.

Never judge a book by its smell. Although if I would, I would like every book at my local library because I simply like the smell of old books. But, I wouldn’t say my local library hold a good selection of books my taste. Also, black licorice Twizzlers look like a good idea at first, but they are Satan’s food.

Warning: Dangerous Substance.

Moral of the story: Life makes decisions for you by simply flowing while you are stuck thinking about the possibilities. I did not plan this to sound like a John Lennon quote, but it did.

I checked my emails before deciding to write about a cup of peppermint mocha, (It was 8/10 by the way), and read that the dilemma I had about an important decision was resolved for me. I did not want to work with a company that didn’t represent my values, but they seemed to like me…

The email said they were sorry to mention the position I would fit was already filled. Another sigh of relief left my nostrils as I clarified this decision one more time.

It’s not that hard trying to get the mechanic toy train to fit the right rails, think about conducting it…I’ll work with my toy train for another week before I get to the real deal.

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Me and bread. A platonic love story (Gluten tolerant but does not care).

Before I close, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read or skim through my blog. I have gotten an unusual traffic this week, new subscribers and people sharing my content. Thank you.

The next post will be posted from Washington, DC if the plane lands safely with bomb cyclone around. But hey, I am sure it will be fine.

Thank you.

Hazal

Extended Travel Guide for the Ultimate Wanderer Series: Winter in Downtown Vancouver

Over the holidays, I felt blasé as hell. Literally. I overcame that phase through learning how to knit, and driving to every corner of the city. What’s better to do than capturing the colors of a beautiful parrot that also freaks you out because there’s a possibility that it might attack you? Or, getting into New Years with not-so-wild crowd of kids and parents in the heart of the city? Well, it was a time. As I enter into my last week in Vancouver, I finally finished crossing out my bucket list of places to visit (minus Capilano. I still need to make it on the thrilling suspension bridge). It’s time to say goodbye to Vancouver for a bit of a time, and runaway from another possibly large snowfall. I shall return soon.

Here are my “Top 3 Places to See in the Heart of Vancouver”

(Comment if you want to read about it more- I am happy to continue with a part two of this post!)

  1. Stanley Park

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Excuse yourself if you haven’t started whining about how you can’t book your tickets for next year, like, right now. The event called “Bright Nights in Stanley Park” included three million lights according to the City of Vancouver information website. As I recall from the event, it was facilitated through the contributions of BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund and 800 firefighters worked like Santa’s elves to light up the whole area. The event has been ongoing every holiday season for 20 years, and was it ever spectacular! I have been to the big event of 2017 “Enchant”, smaller events like the “Lights Festival at the Bear Creek Park”, in Surrey and many more. I am fed up with seeing lights everywhere I look by now, but Bright Nights in Stanley Park was the best out of all that I have seen. There are live performers around, decent hot chocolate (cheap for once!), Santa’s workshop, lights, cardboards, lights, cardboards, lights and more lights. All of this is free. If you would like to take the train ride with exclusive lights, it is 15$ for adults. For 10 minutes, I suggest let your kids take it because it will be magical to them. Like I said, I am fed up with lights, so that part was ‘meh’ for me. You can still catch a ride in the event until January 6th, or wait for the next seasonal one (which will probably be a different train ride for Easter. See more info at: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx)

In nicer weather, Stanley Park is amazing to take a walk by the sea side, admire the amazing view, and ease your mind. If you don’t mind the rain, in all weathers, it is the best location to a rent a bike (please carry a map with you, you’ll thank me later), or go for a run. Hint: Justin Trudeau was spotted running in Stanley Park earlier last year!

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  1. Queen Elizabeth Park

A little bit of sun helps makes this place look full of life, and fall is probably the best time to see the shades that every tree brings in the picture. However, we have been getting sunny weather now and then too, I assure you that it is a good idea to make your way to the Queen Elizabeth Park. The park is the home to a quarry garden, a rose garden and Canada’s first arboretum with plantings done in 1949. According to the city of Vancouver, there are approximately 1500 species of Canadian trees.

On the highest point of Queen Elizabeth Park, visitors see the iconic domed roof of Bloedel Conservatory. It is a 5$ entrance for adults to observe more than 200 free-flying birds as well as seeing different plants from the desert zone, tropical and subtropical habitats. There are many words to describe the colors of this place, but I’ll let the pictures help you with the rest…

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  1. Vancouver Art Gallery

In the heart of downtown Vancouver, this majestic building is located. As I made my way out the Pacific Centre, I walked along historic hotels and delicate buildings, but when I saw this one, I stopped and stared, like every other person would. In front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, you are much likely to see ballerina’s twirling, filmmakers with their gigantic cameras and a lot of people like me, admiring.

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I had the privilege to see one of the largest collections under the roof of Vancouver Art Gallery, “Portrait of The Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection” which captures the painters painting themselves (as Michelangelo would say), and one of my favourite artists Gordon Smith’s “The Black Paintings”. I adore Smith for his way of expressing his emotions of the wartime memories so touchingly. Both exhibitions are still open to viewers until February 4, 2018, accompanied by many newer exhibitions in the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Adult rates are 20$, and students with valid ID can enter for $18. Arts students can get a yearly membership for 5$, whereas adult memberships are $48 (See website for more info: http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/visit_the_gallery/plan_your_visit.html).

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Until next time,

Hazal

December 2017 on the Silver Screen

Without further adieu, let’s dig down to the productions of December.

Thor: Ragnarok

Score: 3/5

I’ll be completely honest, I walked into the theatre with very low expectations for this movie, but it surprised me. I have had the same behavior for every Marvel production since the remake of Spider Man (Homecoming), which was a huge disappointment for me by the way. I do not know what is it that keeps us coming with the Marvel movies. Although I have borderline hated the last few, and they failed to keep me engaged through the whole thing, I keep supporting these productions by simply purchasing tickets to see them (e.g. Wonder Woman, I actually felt bored by the end of it).

Thor had been in my top three for the Marvel superheroes, so I did not dare ignore Ragnarok. The storyline somewhat made me wonder why the developers could not come up with something better than an evil sister, however, the way they placed it into context was clever (Spoiler: Odin has many successes with the evil sister but decides killing is not the right way to achieve power. As a result, Odin erases the past. Crucial Scene: The ceiling breaks apart, revealing the history of these events).

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I did not necessarily follow the change in development and production of Marvel series, however, I assume some significant changes of the stories are influenced by the Disney take over of the studios. The first Thor movie was much heavier on drama, religious references, and especially romance. Referencing Thor: Ragnarok, there are no aspects of romance (Jane is completely out of the storyline nonetheless they only mention her name once), much more inclusive racial characters as implanted in every Disney production, and most importantly, humor. There is much more humor than the amount needed in an action movie. Yes, all Marvel heroes are charismatic and at times too confident or cocky, but their humorous character is not their ‘most important’ trait. Iron Man was known with his sarcasm through the movies, thank you Robert Downey Jr. Deadpool’s previous lifetime experiences simply reflect on his personality as a hero, and we are used to him being the way he is. In my opinion, simply implementing more humour into Thor or any other character all of a sudden, sheds light on their powerfulness. The viewer needs just the right amount. In my opinion, it has been overdone in the last few movies.

As a side note, the soundtrack was delightful and produced a different reality for the action scenes. It almost felt like the power to demolish the enemy came from the song, and it was much like playing the last round of a strategy video game. I have been jamming to Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song after seeing the movie.

Overall, Thor: Ragnarok had a lot less emphasis on the drama aspect that may not be compelling to all audience members, and put forth the humor aspect to reach more. That does not bother me if the storyline meets my expectations of quality and I do not expect that from the latest Marvel productions. Marvel needs to do a lot more than ‘the appearance of evil sister’ to get there, however, Thor: Ragnarok kept me engaged the whole time compared to the numerous poorly constructed scenes of Spider Man: Homecoming, Wonder Woman and sequal to the Avengers. Disney needs to forget about the mere goal of producing as many movies as possible in a year, and aim for better storyline production. Well, I say let’s give Disney a couple more years to familiarize themselves with the super hero world.

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Coco

Score: 5/5

Although Disney fails in the super hero world, I need to give the team their credit on how successful they have been with producing diversity in animation and cartoon. The Princess and the frog, Moana and Elena, all introduced the children of all ages about the skin colors and somewhat took a step beyond breaking the image of white superiority. In essence, this approach seems to work for Disney’s profit, however, it is fairly risky too. It might offend cultures if representation has twitches, and mostly, all are westernized. In Coco, too, the western idea of ‘being yourself’ is highly emphasized, and this may not dare be presented in a collectivist culture like those who are Mexicans.

I loved everything about this production, so first of all, hats off! The main theme was being yourself with sprinkles of appreciating roots, importance of family, and remembering loved ones as the theme song “Remember Me” suggests. The storyline is excellent, and the plot twist at the end shakes the audience all over. I bet all the children in the theatre were as compelled as I was, and I was hysterically sobbing before I left the theatre. Coco gives the audience the hope that we all will meet those whom we lost one day, it reminds us the idea of ‘the waiting room’ that many religions adopt, and the waiting room provides space to watch the loved ones from above as dead relatives wait to get to heaven or hell.

As the story highlights, it is very easy to resonate with ‘the day of the dead’ celebrated yearly. It is based on the same idea that if one’s on earth forget the one’s whom are gone, they fade away. Prayers or the day of the dead are important to implement in our lives, reminiscing memories are equivalent to keeping these people alive in memories. Finally, although it may not always be true, family are bound to support each other.

There was so much to love about Coco. Extraordinary visuals. I will say this that Coco is by far the best visual work that Pixar produced. As I watched Miguel enter the world of the dead, I was astonished by millions of lights that are on literally every single inch-pixel of the screen. Amazing. You can just go and watch this movie for its visuals, but the story line is a bonus! Sit back and enjoy as the beautiful Mexican music sings to your heart.

 

Daddy’s Home 2

Score: 1/5

Will Ferrell in a Christmas movie sounds like a good idea at first but all of us that went to the movie, we, have all been fooled. Newer Christmas movies barely make it in the film market and that is because they focus on the slapstick comedy of it where we watch the main person get his ass kicked or hurt himself. There are some slapstick comedies with clever jokes however, here’s the truth: Dear Mr. Ferrell, Elf was your climax, why not end it there gracefully?

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I do understand this movie is a sequal to the story of two-daddies trying to balance the family relationship out. Four-daddies with no stories, was pushing it. Although I appreciated Mel Gibson’s appearance as a tough-guy who dominates the screen through the movie, it is a mystery why he would even consider playing in Daddy’s Home 2.

I am not sorry for being harsh; This movie deserves way worse. It was a waste of my time, and there are far better comedies on Netflix to get a good laugh.

The Greatest Showman

Score 4/5

Compelling. Musical production on the silver screen is hard work. It is much harder than a production on stage. Stage allows the artists to establish extraordinary connection. The trembling in the artists voice, every breath they take, the dream of the ovation that helps them hit the highest notes. Despite everything that could make me hate this movie, I adored it. There was a standing ovation in my local theatre, as it ended with the graceful quote of P.T. Barnum:

“The noblest art is that of making others happy”.

DF-07341_R.JPGLet me set out my criteria: I am not a huge fan of circus-themed musicals. I expect some dialogue to understand each character, and I do not like it when the producers force a boring musical on my face. The Greatest Showman was both dark and bright, and one reason it is not getting a full point from me is because I could not get enough of it.

There is not a movie that I did not appreciate when Hugh Jackman is in it. He might not have an astonishing musical career; however, he sure does an amazing job delivering the character’s voice. Michelle Williams gracefully accompanies him where the audience witnesses their love story from day one. Again, romance was not overdone. Conflict was not overdone. I could say everything was right about this musical for me. However, it is important to note that many critiques claim the storyline lacked accuracy when portraying Barnum’s life. This will happen either way they portray Barnum because there is much conflict in his own autobiography.

The visuals, performers and the script didn’t have much to complain about for me. I would’ve liked songs that appealed more to the style of 1870s. The attempt to modernize the theme, and musical choices only worked for the sake of Hugh Jackman, and his compelling performance. Give the developers one more year of research and song-writing, this movie would have gotten a 5/5.

I’ll say this; It was an original production and it did a hell of a good job delivering as if I were in Broadway. The Greatest Showman is a must-see.

Bed Time Stories Series: An elephant who hates rocks

If he could hear me, I would tell him how much I miss him every single day. He was my hero, my best friend, a nightingale when he sang the songs of his young days, the person I could complain to about my father, my weekend dinner date, my confidant… He was my arts critique and my whole audience that could fill a room with his one-person presence. He was the Indiana Jones, a traveller who was native to wherever he went. He was an undercover agent, he knew everything. He was a philanthropist and the kindest person I knew, but despite all, I could swear he could easily obtain a master’s degree in gossiping, too. He had no fears; He could squeeze half a lemon on canned tuna, drink a tiny carton of milk with it, and not get food poisoned. If this is not a super power, I do not know what is! He was the greatest man alive.

All and all, he was my favourite person for everything I mentioned above… but there is more. My grandfather ran his own chicken farm! Once, it was a small local factory too… I’d beg him to take me into the now-dusty buildings, and let his words convince me that chickens would try to keep their babies warm inside while sheep and cows ran freely along the green grass. My aunts and my mom always told me about that smelly place they hated going, but I loved hearing stories about it. Everything was worth listening, if he did it.

This is one of my favourite stories about him: My grandfather took my mom to the national zoo during one of his trips working as a bus driver and a tour guide. The national zoo was the only one that was home to the country’s first two elephants. So, the story goes along like this; they walk along the zoo and get to see the elephants. My grandpa wonders if elephants could eat a rock, (I am assuming this is an appropriate estimation because they have huge stomachs and he was always right anyways), so he manages to give a rock to one of the elephants through the fences. To this day, I still wonder how he managed to do that. Well, according to my mom, the elephant was offended because to be given a rock was apparently a rude gesture in the elephant world. He fills his trunk full of water beside him and sprays it on my grandpa. It’s an amazing story really (but, I am just realizing now that maybe it’s not the best story to start with…)

As you hear from my previous story, my grandfather had excellent relationship skills, especially with animals… and kids! I mostly filled up the ‘kids’ category for him until my cousins were born a decade later. Anyway, I loved the chicks he had in his farm and wanted to raise some of them in our apartment in the city. The farm was an hour away from our home at the time, (It is now half an hour because of the advanced technology. The government built a faster route by blocking the highway for three summers with that same technology), and I needed to see those chicks more often; I needed non-adult friends, and the chicks seemed to be a good option.

My mother said one of her short-cut no’s when I brought this excellent idea to her, and I cried for a long time (I am talking about, give or take, four straight hours here). Next day, my grandfather came with a deep carton box that had three little chicks in it. They were squeaking, terrified to death, as if they knew a 5-year-old was just not going to be able to take care of them. I tried heating them with tiny bulbs, putting the box next to a heater, putting in tiny blankets for them. My mom told me not to pick them up with my bare hands and said I could hurt them, but I wanted to play with my new friends. Every time my parents weren’t around, I would pet the terrified chicks. The next week, one of them died, and I cried a lot, but I didn’t want to let go of the other two either. I believed I could help them live to be beautiful chickens. My mom immediately took the box to my grand parents’ house. That was the end of it. My grandpa tried to keep them alive and told me they were fine, but they ended up sharing the same fate with their sibling. I didn’t find out until a long time after. The coming years, my grandfather also took care of the dog I could not take care of, adopted my aunt’s cat, and supported me to own a horse when I came to love riding those majestic animals for a long time in my life. Lesson was learnt, I never wanted anything I simply could not keep alive.

During elementary school, probably second or third grade, I adored this horse cart for my blonde Barbie doll; the horses were battery operated and could march like they were in a parade. In the supervision of my mother, I was gifted the horse cart by my grandpa, however, I still wasn’t allowed to have the full set of princess barbies with it. Later around fifth grade, my grandmother wanted to renew her garden furniture, so we went along with my mother. I fell in love with this doll-size white statue of a fairy, and I begged my mom to get it for me. She told me I didn’t need it, I could not play with it because it was simply a hard stone, and I wouldn’t be happy by just having it. Same old excuses, but I was offended this time. I kept my tears in and did not talk the way home. Typing these make me feel like a spoiled child; by all means, my mother tried, but my grandpa wouldn’t dare see me cry. The next day, I woke up seeing something wrapped with newspapers on the living room table, I opened it. The fairy was beautifully laying there. My mom bet that I would break it in a week then; I am 21 and the fairy is still napping in our living room. She is still white though, as my suggestions for coloring her were not even under consideration.

Now that I earn my own minimum wage salary and he is gone, I keep the tradition going, I buy myself gifts, and disregard what my mom says. The courage to do that could only be taught by a man of powers. I silently thank him one more time.

Rest in Peace. I miss you.

Grandpa and I
Playing dress-up at my aunt’s wedding. (Age 7)