Sunday, July 22, 2012

Drama in Sierra Vista

I woke up to tragic news of the movie massacre where a lone gunman in a gas mask and body armor killed 12 people and injured 71 at a midnight premiere of the The Dark Knight Rises in a Denver suburb early Friday morning. It was terrible incident and my heart went to the victims and those affected. I'm currently staying in Arizona, which is a neighboring state but I did not think too much about how the incident would affect me. Little did I know what was in store for me later that day.

Work ended early since it was a Friday. I reached home around 2:30pm, and found out that I could still meet the next screening of TDKR (3:10pm) at the nearby mall, which was just 5 minutes away. I changed, grabbed my stuff and before you knew it the ticket was secured. Got myself a drink and found a good seat (theaters in the US have free seating), and I was pumped and ready for the movie.

What happened 90 minutes into the movie would stay forever etched in my memory. During the scene where Bane blew up parts of Gotham, I suddenly heard shouting from the rear of the theater, towards the left isle. He was shouting "HEY YOU! STOP MOVING!" My eyes were directed to the front of the cinema, where I then noticed a man standing in the open space, by the exit, along the left isle. He was white, tall build, and wore a backpack. All eyes in the cinema were on him at this point in time, as the light from the screen reflected off the seats and the audience, who realised what was happening instantly.

My first thoughts were "No shit.... you have got to be kidding me." The initial reaction I had was to take cover. If I took up prone position he would not be able to see me. More importantly, I figured I might not have enough reaction time to make it to the exit if he was already holding on to a weapon (remember it is legal in some states in the US to obtain guns). To make it out of the theater, I had to go across 6 or 7 seats, and make a round about turn by the right isle. It seemed like the length of a marathon race at that instant.

But before I could find a place to hide, the people on my left were already scrambling towards me. I did not really have a choice except to try and make it out towards the right side exit. The situation was chaotic, as there were people screaming and shouting, and as I made my way out people were falling and crawling out. Once out of the cinema, I turned back and saw many girls and women who were crying, and being comforted by their partners.

By this time, my heart was racing and the adrenaline was pumping. Hard. It was the first time in my life that I felt I was running for my life. Thoughts ran through my head, but the most important and obvious one was the instinct to stay alive. I circled for a while outside the ticketing booth, to see if more people made it out, but it was very confusing to see people outside totally oblivious to what was happening inside the cinema. I didn't know what to do. Should I alert them to evacuate? Should I return to the cinema? To be honest, I was really lost and the only thing I could do was to return to the hotel. After calming my nerves, I went out again and wanted to see if the police arrived, but there was nothing. Everything seemed peaceful on the outside.

Around 2 hours later, I checked the website of the local news agency and they reported the incident. I quote: "SIERRA VISTA — Cochise County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a homeless man after he disrupted a local theater Friday, causing moviegoers to evacuate less than a day after a gunman opened fire at a Colorado theater." Needless to say, it was my most exciting day in the US thus far. For those concerned, I am not injured nor emotionally scarred, less a gash on my arm when I scratched myself against the walls of the exit corridor. I would most likely be completing the movie either today or tomorrow. I need to know the conclusion. Until the next post, take care!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Living in the USA

And so I've just spent my first week here in Arizona, USA. I'm staying in a hotel in the quiet town of Sierra Vista, and although it seems like a retirement town, there's still places to see, and people to meet. So far it's been great, except for the fact that I've yet to have my own transport and it took me quite some time to walk 3km to Walmart. The hotel I'm currently staying in has most of the basic requirements, less a kitchen. Internet access is good, and so I can FaceTime with Mabel, Rena, as well as my parents easily. Though, the 15 hour time different can be a challenge. I'm making most updates on my Facebook wall, Twitter, and Instagram, but will talk a little bit more on this blog.

The view from my hotel window. Quiet place, but I'm near the mall and the cinema, so it's not too bad. It's a really tiny mall, but at least there's free wifi and asian food. Yup, expensive asian food. But there's no groceries and for that I'll need to head to either Target or Walmart, and that's a good 3km walk.

Food wise, I'll have to say I'm starting to miss asian cuisine and the standard kopitiam items. It's hard to swallow having gigantic American meals everyday, so I'm getting more stuff to microwave as dinners this week, and hoping to shift to the next hotel where there's a kitchen, so that I can start to get more adventurous with my menus.

Entertainment wise, I think most of you already realise I'm the type to stay home and get some serious gaming done. I bought an Xbox 360 for that, since I already have a PS3 at home. The Kinect deal wasn't too bad, so I got the bundle that came with 2 games instead. So far, it's been pretty sweet. Not spending a lot of time on the games, but mostly watching movies on Netflix, which I stream from my Macbook over to the Xbox in HD. Cool stuff, and the selection of movies is pretty wide. I've been watching HK and Korean movies on it.

Most people have already commented that I'll be returning to Singapore a fat boy. Well, I'm trying to prevent that by going for my runs and gym sessions. There's a tiny room here, but it's better than nothing. The running's good, but it's hard for me to get used to the difference in altitude as my throat dries really fast and it's very easy to get breathless. More practice should do the trick though.

There's also a pool and a tiny spa area with hot water, but I've yet to try out both. Will probably find time to do that. And there's a lot of time, trust me. I've been doing some reading in the hotel lobby too. It's pretty sad staying in the hotel room the entire day, really.

There's also complimentary American breakfast in the hotel everyday, and so far I've been eating it on a daily basis. Once again, I can't get used to it and I always think about what friends back home are eating. Instagram photos don't help much guys. I'd kill for a laksa soon.

One of the reasons I'm trying to settle meals myself is due to the price. The other, is how big the servings can be outside. The teriyaki chicken and shrimp meal I got at the mall can definitely serve 2 people. It's great, but the more I eat, the more I need to run, and it's going to be an upward battle if I don't take notice of my calorie consumption.

I'm trying to buy healthy, and at the advice of friends on FB, I've bought a lot more fruits as well. It's a little hard at the moment because I'm only armed with a microwave. The selection at the super-marts are also very different from home. There's a lot less vegetables and canned food. There's also limited choices for instant ramen. Though, there's a lot of microwave-able meals and they don't really cost too much.

Another thing much cheaper than back home are the American toys and figures. The Spider-man figures costs around 50% of back home, and it's a bargain. I nearly got these stuff back in Singapore, and I'm thankful I didn't because now I can get more from the same series at a lesser price.

There are also limited editions of figures, some of which can only be found at selected stores. I think I'll be getting more of these, as well as ordering them from Amazon, which provides free shipping to US addresses. Usually I'd skip the American toys because they would be pretty expensive on Japanese websites that I frequent, but since they are such a steal here, I can't really resist the temptation.

Well, so far for the update on my 1st week. Lots more photos are on my FB album, so feel free to check them out. Until the next update, ja ne!