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Friday, March 31, 2017

The Cepholopod Coffee House March 2017

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  

This month I read Paula Hawkin's The Girl on the Train. Although, it took me a month to read (lately reading has been relaxing me and I fall asleep), it was a riveting read with as many twists, turns, and bumps like an actual train journey. The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller and doesn't disappoint. 

Rachel, one of the protagonists, is an alcoholic who can't seem to remember anything when she blacks out. She is a divorcee and she harasses Tom, her ex, and his new wife, Anna. Tom wanted to live in the old house, despite Anna's protests, and Rachel keeps her married name. One night Meghan, a local girl that lives near Tom and Anna, disappears and the only recollections Rachel has that night are seeing Meghan and violence brought upon Rachel.

The novel weaves between the narratives of Rachel, Anna, and Meghan. These stories give insight as all three women learn how deceit can be presented as truths, but also in their pursuits of truth, they encounter painful and violent realities.

Though at times Girl On the Train could be downright exhausting to get through, I would still recommend the book.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thankful Thursday 3/30/2017

Happy Thursday! It is that time of week again, dear readers!

First off, I want to thank Janie and Liz for donating to my fundraiser. I appreciate you all and I get happy teary eyed just thinking about what you all have done to help me over the years. I am thankful for you all.

Yesterday was a happy day! Yesterday was Request Wednesday on WRTI from noon until 3 PM. I requested Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on Monday morning so I would be sure my request would play. Sure enough, after NPR’s newsbreak, I was the first song played. Jack Moore, the DJ announced:

This first request is from King of Prussia, for Jessica Marie, who is a member of WRTI. One of Beethoven’s most popular symphonies, here is Moonlight Sonata performed by Valentino Lsetza of the Polish Symphony Orchestra. I hope Jessica is eating lunch because she wanted to hear this piece during her lunch break.

Jack ended my request after the Sonata stopped playing: Beethoven’s Moonlight was requested by member Jessica Marie from King of Prussia. She loves Moonlight Sonata, finds it calming, and has inspired much of Jessica’s writing. I hope you enjoyed it, Jessica.

Sadly, I wasn’t eating lunch at noon (my lunch is from 1:30 until 2:30 PM). I was eating oatmeal while working on a work project, but nonetheless, it was great to hear my request and Moonlight Sonata kicked off the Classical Request Wednesday Afternoon.

This was so awesome and it really made my day. 😀

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Scrapbooking at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Since I am a member of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, every March is member appreciation month. They open up a cafe just for members and we get free tea and coffee. I hadn't taken advantage of it much this month, so I decided to go on Sunday. I figured I'd go enjoy some tea and coffee, while working on my scrapbook pages for my library display that is coming up in May. I managed to get a few pages done.

I also made postcards, they had watercolour palets sitting out. I made these two thank you cards for two of my friends that donated to my fundraiser. This is also dedicated to Janie.

I also viewed the watercolour exhibit. There was a painting in the exhibit of children ice skating in Central Park (NYC). One of the children fell and I said to the guy standing next to me, "this scene looks familiar! This was me last month!" We got into a back and forth about ice skating, the cost of medical treatment, and we laughed. It felt great to talk about a painting for fifteen minutes. The rest of the exhibit was amazing too. I loved the floral paintings, but also the one watercolour of cats. The only pictures I snuck in were of watercolour sketchbooks. I thought they were neat and I should start one.

It was a great three hours at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I look forward to going on Friday night for their Art After 5. Since I am saving money, I try to do things my memberships cover for free. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Story Behind My Love For the Flags

As I mentioned yesterday, I was sad when I noticed the flags were taken down after Trump's inauguration. I thought it was some sort of mourning for what the country will be experiencing for the next three-and-a-half years.

After I stepped out of Starbucks and onto the Ben Franklin Parkway, I noticed the international flags were back! I was taking pictures of pigeons when I noticed the British flag swaying in the wind. I was so happy to see it! I was also happy to see the UAE and Turkish flags blowing in the violent wind as well.

It seems weird that these flags are a big deal to me, but I remember the first time I traveled to the city alone in 2011. It was May 18, 2011, and I headed down to Center City after I signed the paperwork for my paid internship for SAT (Software Application Training) that was to start on Monday, May 23, 2011. It took an hour to sign all of the paperwork and once that was finished, I hopped onto the 104 to go to 69th Street free of charge, thanks to the man that gave me a SEPTA pass on bus 92 (that was the bus I took from King of Prussia to West Chester).

When I stepped off of the el at Suburban Station, I felt a little disoriented. Someone showed me the exit to get to Academy of Natural Sciences. Once I ascended the steps and I was outside, the humidity hit my face. I was directed to the Ben Franklin Parkway. At that time I was studying Arabic in college and once I saw the flag for the United Arab Emirates, I loved seeing the flags. I loved looking at all the different countries as I walked to the Academy of Natural Sciences. I loved pretending that I was walking to visit these countries.

My love for the flags grew from that day in May 2011. Every time my parents and I travel into Philadelphia, we stop to see the flags.

I remember one-time mom spotted Swaziland's flag, she blurted out: "remember that time you did that project on Swaziland?"

I laugh as I reply, "I do! I was in 9th grade and that project for social studies was so much fun!"

I've taken many selfies in front of the international flags, mostly on my way to the Academy of Natural Sciences. Though I've taken many going to the Art Museum and my author photo for As Far As The Eyes Can See is me standing in front of Lebanon's flag. Mom took it for me last Mother's Day when we stopped to get pictures of me in front of different Middle Eastern flags and Norway's flag.

When I finished taking my IELTS exam for Canadian immigration, I went to the Canadian flag hanging by the Philadelphia Free Library and took a picture of the flag to remind me of my goal. When I participated in the 5K for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in September 2016, I took a selfie of me in front of the Canadian flag to add to my vision journal. Of course, I took selfies of me walking for charity against other foreign flags.

I even took pictures for all of my penpals around the world. I would take pictures of their flags and state something, "Greetings from Philadelphia!" Most thought it was clever and a kind gesture. I always thought it was fun.

The night I noticed they were taken down that is when Trump signed his travel ban. It was a dark day full of anxiety. I remember taking Dramamine to ease my upset stomach. I was also scared about my moving plans.

In the months that followed, I was invited to immigrate to Canada, Trump's travel bans were lifted, and the flags being hung again symbolized hope. These flags bring hope to me and that is why they're important in my world.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The International Flags are Back!

Today I ventured into Philadelphia to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to take advantage of the free member programs and scrapbook. When I left Starbucks, I walked to the Ben Franklin Parkway and saw that the foreign flags were back!

After Trump was inaugurated and after he issued the travel ban, I noticed that Philadelphia had taken the flags down in January. It made me cry, and I prayed that they wouldn't be gone forever. As you know from my other entries, I love those flags and always love taking pictures with them. I was so angry and distraught, I couldn't believe they were gone.

Yet, today they were back! I wonder if they took them down for impending inclement weather or since Trump was defeated, this was the city's way of celebrating. Regardless, I am glad they are back. I took many pictures but didn't get a chance to venture over to Canada's flag to take a selfie in front of that. Maybe next weekend. :)

As I was on the bus coming from the museum, going to South Street.

I'm going to work on a poem about the flags. I will debut the poem during National Poetry Write Month, which begins on April 1.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Meeting Majd During the IELTs | August 20, 2016

I am going to put this in my display for the library:

Surprisingly, the morning was beautiful. I was expecting more humidity on the morning of Saturday, August 20; however, I was glad that the weather was nice. Dad and I left the house at 5 AM so I could make it to Drexel University by 7 AM for the International English Language Test (IELTs). The IELTS is an English language proficiency test and is needed to either immigrate to the UK, Canada, or Australia or an academic IELTS is needed to go to university in the UK, Canada, or Australia.  I signed up for the general examination for immigration.

As I was waiting for the exam to start, I started talking to a Lebanese young woman that was signed up to take the exam. We also chatted with a young woman from Saudi Arabia that was signed up for the academic IELTs. Before we took our tests, I invited both women to have lunch with me. The Saudi woman declined, she was meeting her husband—it would be me and the Lebanese young woman, who introduced herself as Majd.

After the three-hour listening, reading, and writing tests were completed, we had a break before our oral exams. I saw Majd, asked her how she thought she did, and we walked over the Shake Shack to have lunch. This was Majd’s first time eating at the Shake Shack since she was in the US for a few weeks before heading back to Lebanon. My oral exam wasn’t scheduled until 3:45, her exam at 4. After lunch we walked around the city; I helped her with her English; she helped me with my Arabic. I asked her why she wanted to move to Australia and she was telling me since the war in Syria, Lebanon’s food supply has been cut drastically. Lebanon is also helping the Syrians that are fleeing, and it is economically scary in Lebanon. She has better opportunities in Australia and wants to be with her other family members that had left their region in Lebanon. We exchanged e-mail addresses and it felt great to make a new friend.

I almost want to include these pictures. These are the pictures I took during our lunch and when we were walking around Philadelphia.

Probably not, though. I am including some from Greenville (2009), Canada (last year), New York City (2011 and 2015), and want to include some of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (2007). Also the postcards I have from friends. I have a lot of memories and sadly, they won't all fit inside the display case. I'm looking forward to May, though.