6.27.2016

Berlin: A Heavy Past Turned Into a Resilient City



I haven't posted in an exact month, oops! My parents visited NYC, and then I went to Turkey, and then LIFE. But I can tell you that things are going REALLLLLLY WELLLLL, despite everything moving so fast.

Sooooo...I went Berlin over a month ago, and it finally deserves a post.

*Post on Berlin Commencing*

Berlin is an interesting, sort of cold, sort of ugly-duckling-turned-into-beautiful, sort of hip, kind of place. I would describe it as a lot of "sort ofs." Obviously you all know the past of Berlin, so let's skip the history lesson. What is very true today is although the Wall has been torn down, there's still a huge difference between the look and feel of West Berlin vs. East Berlin.

Some examples of East Berlin, once ruled by the Soviets:






I like to call the above photo "the propaganda building." It's got a militaristic feel, and that's not surprising! Lot's of art, quirky cafes, and concrete-buildings-turned-into-new-flats litter the city. It's amazing what people can create out of sadness; yet, how what they create is still very influenced by the sadness. I was mesmerized by East Berlin!

On the other hand, you have West Berlin, once ruled the by the U.S.:





It's pretty! And very European, no?

The difference between the two sides is STRIKING. This makes Berlin one of the most interesting cities I have visited! Despite feeling the heaviness of the past, the residents have made Berlin something to be proud of, something that is a true phoenix.

Just look at the pictures! This is a special place:







 This is Checkpoint Charlie (border between East and West Berlin), by the way. I wasn't gonna take this photo, but homeboy on the right grabbed me, stuck a Soviet Hat on me, and had me pose. Oh goodness...

 Above: A Beer Garden is Tiergarten. Yeah, it rhymes :) It was a little cold the day we went, but I imagine this place is BANGING in the summer. Below: GERMAN DESSERTS, YUMMMMM.



 And the parks in Berlin, splendidly green! 






I've been told that Berlin is very different from the rest of Germany, and that makes sense. I have yet to see the rest of Germany (one day!).

However, in Berlin the beer is grand, the sites are super interesting, and the history is still very alive in the city. I love that humans can learn from the most dismal of times, and something utterly gorgeous can still come from it. Berlin is not gorgeous in a traditional sense. It's gorgeous in it's resilience. 

5.27.2016

London, You've Still Got It


It's no secret on this here blog that I adore London. So I won't bore you with love letters about the city. This trip was not so much about me, but about showing off London to two guys--one who had never been (Christian), and one who had been and didn't care much for the city (David). I was on a mission to show them my London--all the places in LDN that are dear to me, and that I miss the most.

 On the first (stormy) day we went to my favorite pub (The Dove) situated on the river. 


The following the day, the boys were *blessed* with a gorgeous sunny day--ALL DAY.

Christian was particularly fond of the fashion scene in London, and started to call America "so uncivilized." HAHAHA--I'VE SHOWN HIM THE LIGHT!


I made them try Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars (the BEST). And took them by the most grand, amazing sights in London. Big Ben (the Elizabeth Tower) is a sight I never tire of. It's beautiful, and it's a representation of London. It's my tradition to take a picture of Ben every time I'm in London town:


The next day, I showed the guys my old home, Richmond. Laura, my ol' bestie in London, met up (do older readers remember her?) 


 My other good friend, Tim, popped over that night for some pints and laughter.



I can now happily report that Christian is in love with London and David now likes the city he once hated. My work here is complete!



But London, I wasn't ready to leave you yet! Until next time...

5.19.2016

Breaking Down These Walls



Just got back from 8 days in London and Berlin, which proved to be some ample life-contemplating time. And yes, the above photo is of the Berlin wall--well, a section that has been kept and turned into continuous art where Berliners can add layers and layers of graffiti (this is also an outdoor concert venue and park).

There's something really awakening about staring at a section of the Berlin wall. Thoughts about humanity, despair, loneliness, and perseverance all come to mind. It also made me think about the walls I put up around myself, and how I've carried on in New York over the last 9 months.

Without being too specific, I feel like writing about something that has been affecting my heart over this time period. I've been very attached to one person here in New York. So much so that I pretty much fell for said person, but it never developed past a best friendship.

I asked myself, how did I become this girl? A girl who falls for a best friend and can't move past it? A girl who gets stuck in unrequited love?

To be easy on myself, it's quite effortless to do so. And I think I'm pretty notorious for wanting men that are unavailable emotionally, because I have a noncommittal spirit myself. Of course, my heart became saddened and constrained everyday by wanting more from him and not receiving it...a vicious cycle of wanting and hurting. I do not blame him, because we cannot ask more from people than they are willing to give. In this hamster wheel sort of relationship--seeing this person nearly everyday, and sharing deep secrets, and having great laughs and many tears--I focused too much energy on him and not enough on getting to know New York. The walls I built up, in this case, kept the city out.

I think about my time in London often, and the biggest difference between the two cities is that I really let London soak in. All gates, locks, walls, and fortresses around my heart were abandoned, and I jumped head first into adventure. While I will always prefer London over NYC (because, I'm a Londoner, ok?), I think I have not given a fair chance to this fine American city.

Something switched in me during this recent trip where this all became apparent. And it happened in Berlin, staring at these oppressive walls.

I know what I must do now. I will not allow myself to become stuck in the confines of my self-loathing thoughts. I want all these walls to come crashing down, as if it were 1989 and because it's damn well time to. You can have all the love in your heart for someone but know that it's just not serving you well.

I have about a year and a half left to live here, and I am going to visit all the jazz clubs, and eat all the pizza, and engulf myself in literature, and go on dates with new men, and just...let myself be open. I will say yes to life, and yes to New York. You'll see this mighty woman, standing proudly on a pile of rubble that was once a huge wall, head held to to sky, open for adventure once more. 

5.02.2016

A Three Sentence Movie Review

1. Batman v Superman


I just...don't like this director much (the same director as Man of Steel). While I'm sure he's trying to get all the comic book facts right, his major sin is OVERSTUFFING, leaving the viewer with a bit of headache at the end of the film. Ben Affleck made for an okay Batman, but the real superhero here was Wonder Woman, who kicked better ass than all the boys.


2. Concussion


I like that this film sheds light on how the greed and corruption of the NFL is affecting its players' health. The film is good overall, but offers very little comedic relief, so make sure you're in the mood to watch something very heavy and a bit sad. Decent acting from Will, but not Oscar-worthy (sorry, buddy!).


3. Spotlight


Interesting movie about investigative journalism, reminiscent of All the President's Men, but not as outstanding (because you just can't beat Robert Redford). Overall a very solid film, but not deserving of the Academy Award. Another example of films winning the main prize because they're on controversial topics (I'm also still peeved Brooklyn didn't win, so maybe I'm biased).


4. Captain America: Winter Soldier


THIS is a real superhero movie--great pacing, lots of adventure, fantastic storyline--it's one of the best superhero movies I have ever seen (yes, I'm really late to watching it). Chris Evans makes for a great Captain America, that hunk of man! So now, I can't wait for Civil War to come out...I think I'll go opening weekend!

Photo Credits: 1/2/3/4

4.28.2016

What's Happenin' (April and May)?


I'm gonna merge April and May for this post because of the amount of travel I put on my plate (totally feasting on said plate), and the small amount of time I have in between to post.

So what's been happening in Ashley's world?

APRIL was the month that belonged mainly to San Diego. I was soooooooooo ready to soak up some sun. I was in SD for work, but obviously had the pleasure of seeing friends and family whilst gorging on Mexican food and In N Out for 2 straight weeks.

San Diego, in a nut shell:


Being in New York for awhile has made me appreciate San Diego to the MAX: It's clean! It's warm! It's a comfortable life! And being in San Diego for 2 weeks made me want to go back to NYC: It's interesting! There are things happening! CITY CITY CITY!  

That's why it's good I found a job that caters to my very gypsy soul that skips between different patches of green grass. I'll never change. 

***

MAY is going to be the month where I'll be heading to London and Berlin for an 8 day trip. I'm stoked! My 2 favorite New Yorkers are coming with me, whom you will see in my upcoming posts. It's been quite awhile since I've set foot in Europe (a year--that's LONG for me!), so May 10th can't come soon enough. 

Other stuff that's been happening recently: 

1. It's SPRING in NYC. Break out my denim jacket...weeeeee!  New York is gorgeous in the  springtime, ya'll. 

2. My cousin has a bestselling book in Turkey! My family is cool: 

via
My cuz (BegΓΌm) totally inspires me to be creative once more, especially when it comes to writing. One of my life goals? Become published (at least an article). 

3. I've made the decision to stay in NYC next year. This is a city that will give you a beating, but in a way that brings out a fervency to be the best. I reckon there will be a point where that will become exhausting, but I haven't reached it just yet. So it's one more year (at least) in the big city for this little lady. 


And there you have it, folks. The "main headlines" of Ashley's life for April and May. And if you feel like sharing...what's been happening with you? 


4.21.2016

Favorite Thing Thursday

Lately, my favorite things have been:

1. My Two-Week Stay in California


It's been a relaxing 2 week stay in the Golden State. I'll do a full post on this later, but sometimes California is just the perfect antithesis to NYC.


2. New Haircut (I Got Bangs) 


Sporting a new springy do.


3. This Dry Shampoo


This is the **best** dry shampoo I've ever tried! I managed to get through 4 days without shampooing--magnificent! Sephora sells a travel size if you wanna give it a go.


4. San Diegan Mexican Food


 No other city in the US comes relatively close to San Diego Mexican food. The slight doughy-ness to the tortilla, the perfected hot sauce, the ambiance of a well-worn taco shop--this is San Diego at it's absolute best. 

4.10.2016

My NYC Bucket List: The Metropolitan Opera


About a month ago, I checked off a longtime bucket list item--going to the Opera. What better place to see the Opera than a major metropolis, such as New York City?



I went with one of my besties, Christian, who is up for any and all art-related activities (if it makes him cry, BONUS POINTS).


We started the night with some naughty and indulgent food: grilled cheese and...WAIT FOR IT...Opera Cake. Yeah, this little guy was called Opera Cake and we couldn't resist, dammit! 


After our bellies were full of expensive cheese and chocolate, we made our way to the Met to see Madama Butterfly.




Obviously I didn't take photos of the performance, but isn't this modern space just lovely?

I am going to provide you with the promotional video for Madama Butterfly, because it's BREATHTAKING:








Going to the Opera in NYC will forever be a very cosmopolitan moment in my life. I'll tell the kids one day, "Mom used to do fun, cultured things!" Well, I don't plan on ever stopping doing fun, cultured things.

And so I ✓ this one off the list!


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