Monday, April 29, 2013


From IMDb
The movie 42 is based on the true story of how Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to break the baseball color barrier. In 1945, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey searched for a player who had the skills, talent, and courage to help him end segregation on the baseball diamond.

The discrimination and treatment that Jackie Robinson suffered at the hands of white umpires, players, other owners and managers, fans, and even hotels when traveling is well-known. I felt like the movie approached the racism with a light touch, not really getting into the true cruelty and evil.
I got the feeling, though, that may have been because Writer/Director Brian Helgeland wanted the movie to focus elsewhere. Instead, he told a story of courage and sportsmanship and love that is far more powerful than ignorance or hate could ever be.

I have long thought that all African-American athletes owe a little bit of their career to Jackie Robinson. If it wasn't for the road he paved, many careers would have been much shorter, or even non-existent.

After seeing the movie, and reading a bit about Mr. Robinson, I have changed my mind. He did more than just break baseball's color-barrier. He represented hope and encouragement to people who, until that point, were told they couldn't. He stood up and said he wouldn't be told no, and that he wasn't there to fight - he just wanted a chance to play. He didn't ask for anything to be handed to him, he just asked that he be treated with the respect he earned.

Jackie Robinson is a hero to anyone who has ever doubted, lost hope, or wondered if he could achieve his dreams. He is a hero to anyone who has ever been told he wasn't good enough, or that his goals were out of reach. He is a hero to anyone who has ever had to make a choice between turning the other cheek, or defending himself in a fight. He is a hero to anyone who has ever tried to make a change for the better, to right a wrong, or to simply make a difference.

Jackie Robinson is a hero to everyone.
I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday fill in - Time warp edition

Today is Friday, April 26. Yesterday (Thursday, April 25) was the Girl's Inc. Auction, for which I spent the last week preparing, and from which I will spend today recovering. Knowing that would be the case, I scheduled this post ahead of time. 

So I'm borrowing the Friday Fill-In from Thursday, April 11, because I liked it and can work on it today (which is actually Wednesday, April 24). Confused yet? Fabulous.

  1. Right now I'm not hungry.
  2. Sarcasm is my well-known quirk.
  3. Are you ready yet?
  4. Dessert first, then dinner!
  5. That's why I exercise.
  6. Friends is one of my favorite TV shows ever!
  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the gym, tomorrow my plans include church, and Sunday I want to do absolutely nothing.
This would be the best thing ever!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Friends and siblings

I missed National Siblings Day (April 10, 2013). Probably because I don't have any siblings, so no one was tagging me in Facebook posts.

When I was little, I always wanted a sibling. I envied my friends who had cool older sisters to learn from, or older brothers to look out for them. Then there were the lucky ones with younger siblings who they could boss around looked up to them.

Then I met a family with six girls. Now - I love them dearly (we're cousins by marriage - er, sort of). But hanging out with that many siblings, who were all sharing rooms and closets and clothes, made me realize something:

I like freakin' love being an only child.

I didn't have to share a closet, or a budget when it came time to buy school clothes. There was no shortage of peace and quiet, because I didn't have to share a bedroom. I could watch what I wanted on TV, and no one was around to tie up the telephone (back then there was only one per household - the horror!). Everything I had was just mine. I didn't have to pick up after anyone else, and there wasn't anyone around to get me into trouble.

That probably sounds lonely to some - and I suppose it was, sometimes. When I was a teenager, especially. That's an awkward time anyway, and not easy to go through on your own. My situation was unique in other ways, too. I was home alone a lot, and most of my friends didn't live close by.

As an adult, I have observed siblings argue over a host of issues (money, property, parenting, etc.). I don't envy those arguments, and have repeatedly thanked my dad that I am still an only child.

I do envy the close relationship siblings enjoy. They have a bond that is (literally) unbreakable. No one in the world understands you like someone who grew up in the same home, with the same parents, and shares the same history and memories.

When I say friends are the family I choose, I'm absolutely serious. For an only child, that bond is formed in a different way. We don't share memories or history, so it isn't a pre-requisite for someone to be our family. Our view is more open; family can be anyone. A person doesn't need to penetrate an unbreakable bond in order to be our "sibling."

When a friend says I'm "like a sister" I know she means she loves me. But if she has siblings (especially sisters), I take the statement with a grain of salt. The truth is, the bond she feels with her sister(s) is something I could never hope to share. We don't share a history, and we don't share memories. I may be a good friend, but friendship can still change, and fail, and even end. That bond isn't as solid as the bond siblings share - even if they don't always get along.

Siblings can yell and scream and fight. They can call each other names. They can talk behind each other's backs. They can even lie to, and betray, one another. At the end of the day - a sibling bond will still be intact. They might be angry - but they'll always be siblings.

Friends are not the same. If we betray trust, or fight, or call someone the wrong name - they'll walk away, without even thinking twice. We may have a bond - but it's far from unbreakable.

A sibling bond is constant and forever - even if one or both people don't want it. It's something that can't be broken, and something that an only child will never really share.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

Over the weekend, I took my Little to see The Place Beyond the Pines. It was her idea (with parents' permission, of course). The movie is set in Schenectady (where I live) and was filmed in the area in 2011. We thought it would be fun to see all the familiar sights and places.

I've talked about the movie a lot elsewhere, from a local interest point of view. I thought I'd share my feelings about the movie over here.

  • At 2 hours 20 minutes, the movie was way - waaaayyy - too long. It's a long story and it does
    From IMDb
    That intersection is not far from my first apartment!
    need extra time to be told correctly - but I think it could easily have been told in under 2 hours.
  • If you saw the movie at Bow-Tie Cinema at the 11:30 am show on Saturday, April 20, and you were sitting in the center of the aisle about 10 rows back with your wife/girlfriend, and talked all the way through the movie - you, sir, are a jackass.
  • There was a woman sitting in front of us breast-feeding her baby. I could not care less that she was breast-feeding. I was a little annoyed when the baby started crying. An infant in a carrier isn't something you think you'll have to deal with at a movie rated R.
  • Speaking of...I don't think I ever want to take a teenager to a rated R movie again. There wasn't anything explicit in the movie (other than language, which I'm sure she's heard). But the theme and subject matter was over her teenage head. Frankly - it was almost over my 30-something head. I did my best to explain what I could on the drive home.
  • I was not crazy about the way Schenectady was portrayed. We are not all hicks, red-necks, or criminals. We don't all live in run-down homes, or drive beat-up cars. 
  • I was even less impressed with how Troy was represented (through its sole character in the film). Honestly - if I lived there, I'd be pretty mad.
  • Mahershala Ali is adorable. I would have put him on the movie poster.
****Small Spoiler Alert**** 
  • It was ironic to see fictional newscasts talking about corruption and ethics investigations within the Schenectady Police Department. Considering how many real stories there are about that very thing, I chuckled thinking how they had to create one for the movie.
  • If the acting thing doesn't work out, Ray Liotta would probably be perfect as a detective on the SPD.
  • Without giving too much away, the story is a great telling of how good and bad are rarely as simple as black and white. Things are almost never what they seem, and you should never judge a book by its cover. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Marriage according to a five year old

I live with two kids (well, part time). I love them dearly. They bring a tremendous amount of happiness to my life. They also say the most hilariously blog-worthy stuff.

The other day, my housemate's five-year-old daughter asked her mom about marriage.
5YO: Can you marry your family?
Mom: No, that's not allowed.
5YO: I think you should be allowed to marry family. That way you know what you're getting - and if you don't like it, you can just throw it back.

I love this kid.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Welfare drug tests

I see pictures like this passed all over Facebook:

I didn't create this image, but I won't link to the page where it was found.
I searched Google Images.

I get it. People have to pass drug tests to qualify for certain jobs. Then they pay into a system that supports people who get money without having to jump through a similar hoop. Annoying, yes.

But I'm not sure mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients is the answer.

First of all, there's a big difference between a test required by the government to collect money to which a person is entitled, and one required by a private company to get a job to which that person is not entitled. Allowing the government that much control over our private lives is a little scary, I think.

Maybe this seems like the sort of intrusion that should be allowed - after all, you only have to take the test if you want the money. What scares me is the doors it opens to more intrusions, and how much of our privacy we surrender before it finally stops.

Welfare is a huge term that refers to a lot of programs. There are programs that are easily manipulated and taken advantage by a lot people. There are also people who have truly earned and need the entitlements. I'm not aware of a solution that can successfully distinguish between the two groups, and make sure the benefits are distributed fairly.

I don't condone taking advantage of the system. I believe that people should work, and take care of themselves, as long as they are able. However - I also believe that those who are able have some obligation to help those who are not. Some choose to give time and/or money to certain organizations, which is great. But at the very least, we all need to pay into some sort of system that helps everyone in need.

Speaking of those in need...when a mom or dad fails one of these mandatory welfare drug tests, what will happen to their children? That money was supposed to help feed and clothe and shelter them, too - and now it's gone.

Is the answer to take the children away from their home and parents? Won't making a child a ward of the state ultimately cost more than the welfare benefit would have in the first place? Won't threatening the breakup of the family discourage moms and dads from applying for much-needed assistance?

The system is most certainly broken. But we need a system to help those who need help - without discrimination - until they can help themselves. We may need to fix the system - but I'm not sure this is the fix we need.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My religion needs a name

I have yet to find a church with which I completely agree. The Catholic church is most definitely out. Other Christian faiths are nice, but steeped in formality and tradition - and when it comes to faith, I'm not really a formal kinda gal.

Non-denominational churches (like the one I attend) are less rigid. There's a more modern, "come as you are" feel to the message and service. Plus there's not a lot of that stand-up, sit-down nonsense, which is hard on the knees.

I don't like a message of a vengeful, angry, judgmental God. Yes, I get that in the end we're all going to be judged for how we lived. But I like the idea of a loving, faithful God who offers forgiveness and grace and guidance in life, if we just ask. I like to think God is there to help us get it right, not set us up to fail.

Most anyone who knows me knows I support same-sex marriage, and that equal rights is something I believe in pretty strongly. Many, many Christian churches don't support that idea, believing that the Bible defines marriage as something between a man and a woman, largely for the purpose of creating a family.

But I also believe in religious tolerance. I'm of the opinion that religions have to be allowed to believe and teach what they hold true. After all, I don't have to agree with your opinion, in order to agree that you have the right to have one. Still, I struggle with the idea that by supporting the church's right, I'm also inadvertantly supporting this belief, which goes against everything I hold true.

I think the church has an image of being a judgmental, closed-minded, and rigid institution where this sort of free-thinking and questioning is not tolerated. I think that image is what makes many turn away from the church, and sometimes the whole idea of religion. I know that's why I turned away for so long. I thought that if I showed any sort of belief, I was at best a hypocrite. At worst, I might be a harsh, judgmental, close-minded person.

It took a while, but I have been able to separate the ideas in my head. I have figured out that I can support the message, and have a relationship with God (which my church encourages) while at the same time maintaining my own politics and beliefs. My church delivers the message that you need to have faith, and believe in God and Jesus. It teaches us to bring them our problems, worries, and obstacles. It encourages us to ask God for help, so that we can be the person He intended. We are each a masterpiece, uniquely created by God in His image with our own talents and gifts.

If I believe that, then it follows that that my feelings about equality and tolerance are a part of God's image for me - and keeping true to those beliefs is a part of who I am meant to be. The only way to stay true to God is to be proud of my beliefs and my faith at the same time.

But I suppose, then, that means I'm not quite a Christian. Or at least, I'm not the "stereotypical" Christian. Which makes sense - most people are shocked to learn that I go to church each week. Let's face it - I don't live my life the way most Christians would choose, or find acceptable.

I've also learned that I don't need to be acceptable to other people, whether I meet them inside or outside of the church. I need to be acceptable to God. He is the only person who judges how I live my life. If I am true to Him, and the image I believe He has for me, than I guess I am doing something right.

That's my religion.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A good day for hot chocolate

It's April...but you'd never know it by standing outside. Yes, April in New York is often rainy and sometimes a little gloomy - but it should be warmer than 33 degrees.

I was checking out Rags to Stitches this morning. I'm always a little bummed that I can't view the video at work. As I write this, I don't know what Alissa tells us during her coffee date - but I figured I'd share the link, and what I'd say if we were having coffee (hot chocoate for me) today.

- I spent a little more than I meant to at Sephora yesterday. They were having a VIB Event (for reward card holders), so I had a coupon. Spending a certain amount got you a free tote with samples. I usually spend "a certain amount" in Sephora anyway...and yesterday was no exception.

- Last weekend was rough for me. Too much going on, and I had people coming at me from all kinds of directions. I'm hoping this weekend will be a little more boring.

- The Cornerstone Group is in the home-stretch of putting together this year's auction. It looks like it will be a really fun time, and for a really good cause! We'd love to see you there. (Follow this link if you'd like to purchase a ticket or donate to Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region.)

- Speaking of, I need an outfit. Choosing a wardrobe this time of year is such a challenge. The calendar says we should be able to wear lighter clothes (both in color and fabric). The aforementioned temps, however, suggest I should be bundled up in wool.

- Whatever I do, my shoes won't be white. No worries.

- I was going to tell you about my current pet peeves - but then I realized one of them was people who whine and complain, and that's exactly what I'd be doing.

- So I'll just tell you that sometimes people bug me, just a little. Another reason why this weekend needs to be boring.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I never lol

I communicate with a lot of people every day. Most of that communication is done in written form, whether it be text messages, emails, facebook messages or comments, tweets, whatever.

I spend most of my day reading - either these messages, or blog posts, profiles, or (if I'm actually working while I'm at work) contracts, letters, etc.

I consider myself a tech-enthusiast. I like technology, maybe more than some people in my age-bracket. Certainly more than some of the people with whom I'm communicating, since many of them are more old-school (read: older).

Many of them would still prefer a phone call or sit-down meeting. They have only entered the world of text out of fear they might be left behind. I, on the other hand, text, tweet, post, link, blog, and pin with the best of 'em.

What I don't do is talk in shorthand. I don't lol, idk, brb, or spell the word "right" as "rite." If I use you're instead of your, it's an honest mistake, and not because I don't know better.

Nothing chips away at a person's credibility with me faster than when he speaks in shorthand, uses lol to punctuate sentences, or doesn't know that an apostrophe makes a word possessive (except when it doesn't).

Sure, I get that technology makes a lot of this more acceptable. Save a character, or a keystroke! It shows you're on-trend. It suggests you can keep up with the conversation, no matter how quickly it's evolving or how "old-school" you might be.

But to me, that's a double-edged sword. In this techie culture, most first impressions are made through words read on a screen. Isn't it better for that impression to be that you care about your image, and how you present yourself? Don't you want people to know you're smart enough to know better, and care enough to take the time?

The way we present our message has become the new perfect outfit. It shows our style, our form, our image, and how we would represent our friends, family, and coworkers.

Lol is the text equivalent to wearing pajama bottoms when you go to the store. Just because other people do it doesn't make it OK.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What I learned watching 'The Bible'

Though I was exposed to religion fairly consistenly from the ages five to twenty-two, in all that time - I never once read The Bible.

I'm sure passages were read to me. I even remember a lesson early on about how the numbering of verses works (though I couldn't repeat it now without a trip to Wikipedia).

Each week, I attend a church service where scripture is read, and then explained. I find it interesting to hear how it translates to real life. But again, that's having it read to me, and in short spurts.

A few months ago, a friend gave me a Bible (the first I've ever owned). I'd like to read it, but The Bible is a big book. Let's face it - my attention span isn't that long. I can't even finish a Stephen King novel.

So when I found out that The History Channel was showing a ten-hour series telling the story of The Bible, I thought this was my chance. The series aired in five, two-hour episodes, each Sunday in March. Sundays at 8 - I could totally do that!

So I did. I know a little bit more about the Book now, though I still find it confusing. Through church, and praying, and the series, and reading blogs, and just listening, I feel like I get the message a little bit better.

A few observations I made while watching (and sometimes tweeting) the History Channel mini-series:
  • The Bible is disturbingly violent. I find it hard to believe that God condones that much bloodshed in His name. I think these people were, at times, way off the mark in the message.
  • Along those same lines, if God had chosen more women as prophets, they may have gotten the message more clearly. Everyone knows most men only hear what they want, anyway.
  • Samson had particular trouble making good choices, especially when it came to women. Had he joined Christian Mingle, and let them find "God's match" for him, a lot of problems could have been avoided.
  • Abraham was the first dead-beat dad. That comment ruffled some feathers (maybe cause I made it at church) , but c'mon! He cheats on his wife because she can't get pregnant, and knocks-up some poor, young "servant" girl. Then his wife has a child - and he makes his first son (and his mom) go live in the woods? That's like an episode of SVU.
  • I always knew snakes were evil, filthy creatures up to no good. Now I have confirmation.
  • Say what you want about that Pharaoh, those slaves had one heck of a dental plan. Pearly whites everywhere!
  • I still don't understand why everyone's arguing over that one patch of land in the desert. To this day, even! I think something, somewhere, went terribly wrong. I hope they fix it in the sequel.
I know, I know...I kid. Now you know why nuns hate me.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Not a good Friday (and a fill-in)

So far today, I've been lied to, spoken to rudely, been asked stupid questions, been given stupid answers, and led on a wild goose chase by someone who is supposed to know more (than me).

That all happened before I finished breakfast.

Here's a fill-in....
  1. I use my phone for everything.
  2. Pitch Perfect is one of my favorite movies.
  3. It's still early.
  4. I need time to myself.
  5. I said hello, and then he said goodbye.
  6. Peace and quiet is what I'm craving right now!
  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to putting a smile on my Little's face, tomorrow my plans include the gym, and Sunday I want to sit at home in silence.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nuns hate me

On one of the online dating profiles I have, the question is asked, "What is the most private thing you're willing to admit?"

My answer is, "Nuns hate me."

(In the context of an online dating site, it totally works. It gives people an opener. "Why do nuns hate you?" is a frequent question. Useful for me, too, because if they tack on an "lol" I know not to bother responding.)

Between a short stint at private school, religious education at a Roman Catholic church, and (for reasons having zero to do with religion) four years at a Catholic college, I was exposed to religion pretty consistently from the time I was five through my early twenties.

The one lesson that was clear through all this education: Nuns, do in fact, hate me.

I remember once asking my dad why that might be. His theory was that nuns prefer that people (especially kids) just take everything at face-value. Kids should do as they're told, believe what they hear (from the church), and not question anything.

My problem, he said, was I questioned everything.

I wasn't belligerent (at least, I don't think I was). I just wanted to understand. I liked knowing the whys and the hows about all the whats people were teaching. The problem is, when it comes to faith and religion - wheres and whens are easy, but not so much the whys and hows.

I didn't just believe what they told me or do what they said. If it didn't sound right, I questioned why. If they said God said something was wrong, I wanted to know how they knew. If they pointed to what they believed was proof, I questioned whether or not it might mean something else.

It wasn't that I didn't want to learn, or have faith - I just didn't want to do it on their terms. That, apparently, did not make me endearing.

That's fine. After a brief hiatus from religion and church, I have found a Christian church (not Catholic) that shares a message of a faithful, forgiving God who gives strength and grace to those who ask. I have found a way to have faith and believe and learn without having to compromise who I am.

Which, I believe, is what God really wants - for us all to be the the unique masterpiece he created us to be, and not a carbon-copy of everyone else.

Whether nuns like it or not.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dribs and drabs

When I'm nervous, I talk a lot, and really fast. That's a formula for disaster. When your mouth gets ahead of your brain, there's no telling what you might say.

The rest of the time, I'm quiet. Until I get on a roll. That's confusing sometimes - makes people think I'm dull or have nothing to add. Really, I'm just listening and observing, waiting for my chance to say something helpful, and intelligent.

Sometimes that translates over here...and I'm left with not a lot to blog about. Or at least, nothing that will make a whole post - right now, anyway.

I checked out the NaBloPoMo prompts for April, but the theme is environmental issues (which makes sense for the month). It's important, but not something I can talk about for very long, or particularly well.

I was going to write about my dislike for April Fools Day, and practical jokes. But my comment over on Baking Suit's post and my last tweet pretty much say it all. I just think there are some things that aren't funny - like failing health or marriage. Why does something so awful elicit laughter?

Last week I burned the roof of my mouth, on hot cheese of all things. My mouth is still sore, which is making me cranky.

As I get older, I realize I have less and less desire to spend time with people who make me anything less than happy. This includes my family (all except my dad, whose like the only person on Earth who I always like).

Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Thank goodness. Though there's no Derek (yet) I'm still happy to see the Yankees play. Of course - it looks like we're in for a rough start to the season. Hey - at least there's baseball.

I have decided that by my fortieth birthday (July 15, 2014 - sigh) I would like to have sold my house and moved. I think the next decade of my life needs to start with a new address. Everyone tells me 40 is when life really begins. I'd like my life to begin with a little more money and fewer worries.

Along those requirements wishlist for an apartment is pretty specific. I found one complex in the area that could give me everything I want - but it'll come at a high cost (basically no less expensive than my mortgage plus other monthly cost of living at the house). Availability will be tight, and of course timing is everything.

Guess we'll see what happens.