07 October 2012

War on Religion

I made this thing the second I heard Jon Stewart say it because it's full of truth.
The Daily Show rules.
I still can't get over this idea that (religious) people think there's a war on religion in this country. Do they really think their right to practice whatever religion they want is being THREATENED?? Are you KIDDING me?? Just because we don't all subscribe to their beliefs and we don't want our lives and our rights to be dictated by those beliefs, we're waging WAR?? Just because we want ALL people to feel included in this country?

I don't believe in god, I don't believe in heaven or hell, I don't go to church, I don't pray. But I'm a good person. I am nice to strangers, I love my family, I work hard, I have fun with my friends and I want everyone to be happy and healthy. And I am an American. I'm sorry, but this country is NOT a Christian nation. It's a nation of differences. The country was not founded as a place for Christians, it was founded as a place to be free to practice whatever religion you choose and that includes NO religion. IT DOES. Accept it. My not believing has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING on your believing. It doesn't affect you. If you don't want to marry a member of the opposite sex because it's against your religion, that's YOUR CHOICE. It is NOT your place to tell others what they can and cannot do. If I have a company and I want to include EVERYONE in my holiday wishes by saying "Happy Holidays" or by displaying decorations from multiple religions, that's a GOOD thing. It's being inclusive. It's say "hey, I recognise that we're not all the same and I want to make you all feel welcome in this holiday season."

And I definitely think the government SHOULD ALWAYS seek to include everyone. When the president acknowledged non-believers in is inauguration, that was a GOOD thing. It is not attacking you. I don't want to take away ANYONE'S right to practice whatever religion they want. Sure, I often want to try to convince people that they're religion makes no sense... haha But I would never, ever, ever suggest there should be laws restricting that. (Except, of course, if their laws harm another human being... no human sacrifices allowed.) And I will NOT accept any religion that DOES want to do that. Keep it to yourselves. Separation of church and state. This is one of the most important aspects of our government that needs to be preserved. The religious need to understand that this idea protects THEM TOO. What happens if this country DID have an official religion? Many religions would be furious. Sure, right now they all agree that gay marriage is bad, but if there was one religion in power that had views the others didn't, they'd be screwed.

Look, ultimately it comes down to this: What do you care?? I understand that you think you're helping all these lost souls. And if you want to run around waving pamphlets and trying to convince others the error or their ways, go right ahead. But to go as far as trying to make these things law, is NOT OKAY. And you don't have to worry about seeing all these awful sinners in heaven, anyway, right? God won't let 'em in. So why don't you just let them live their lives in peace and he'll take care of everything for you in the end.

Sound good?

02 October 2012

Ich lerne Deutsch!

I did a quite scroll through all the posts I've made on here through the years (man, I did so many back in that first year! In 2008, I made 78 posts and that was only the last four months! Shameful.), and I found that I never told you guys that I started studying German!

I've wanted to study German for as long as I can remember. I don't know why, but as a kid I thought it was cooler that I was half German than it was that I was half Italian. (I like to say it's because of all the guidos on Staten Island, but I really don't know for sure.) I even remember making German food for the two international fairs we had in junior high school (German potato salad & apple strudel). I also remember that before I started junior high school, I thought I would have the option to learn German, but when I got there the only options I had were Italian or Spanish. (I took Italian, hated it, but still did pretty well because I'm a nerd.)

Then when I got to high school I went to Staten Island Technical High School where they only teach you Russian (it's something to do with looking good on your college resume). At first I was terrified of this language (I even went to summer school BEFORE school started to get a jump on it — I told you I was a nerd), but I instantly fell in love with the language. There's something really cool about learning an entirely new alphabet — not the least of which is that you can write secret notes to your friends in English but using Russian letters that most teachers and parents could not read! You are required to take 3 years of Russian, but I ended up taking an AP class in my final year because I loved it. I wanted to continue in college but they only offered beginner Russian. I took that anyway because I needed the language credits and it was an easy A. I never let myself forget the alphabet through the years, though, and while I can't really translate much, I can still read it, which is the only way to use a Russian dictionary, so it's something.

I've often thought about continuing my Russian studies. But then in 2010, during the World Cup, after USA & England had dropped out, I was on to rooting for my third team, Germany (they've moved up to #2 since then). During matches, my dad would text me some things in German. Now, he doesn't speak fluent German. When he was three, he was brought to the US by his parents and didn't speak fluent English until about 8 years old, but his parents encouraged their family to be AMERICAN. Which meant, stop speaking German. So he stopped. I now remember all the times my dad would tell me one word or one phrase in German during my childhood, but I never really payed too close attention. It's amazing how much still stuck with him even though he never really spoke it. To this day, he can understand a lot of German when spoken to him, but the opposite is a little more difficult.

So anyway, these little German texts about the World Cup games got me really thinking about learning German again. While a part of me still wanted (still wants, really) to continue learning Russian since I think it's such a cool language and I'd already started, a bigger part of me wanted to connect to something that was actually ME. Back when I was living in London for a semester (2001!), I took a 4-day trip to Munich on my own. I know it's silly, but I just felt this little connection to it. It's all in my head, I know, I had never been there or even really had any interaction with my German relatives, but still, it felt cool. And I wanted more of that. Again, I don't know why I don't have that yearning for my Italian side. Maybe it is BECAUSE I've had no real connection to that side of my family growing up, while I grew up very close with my mother's side of the family, eating Italian food, etc. But there it was.

So one day about 2 years ago I saw a Groupon for 5 classes at Rennert and they offered German, so I grabbed it. I've been going there since. Not non-stop, mind you, but tonight I started my fifth semester (they're 10-week semesters, 1 2-hour class per week)! I'm FAAAAAR from being fluent, in fact I KNOW that will never happen without living in Germany, but it's pretty amazing how much I've learned after just 80 hours. And it's really fun TO learn. It's funny how much you miss school when you've not done it in forever. I mean, not all those classes you hated but had to take or all the homework and tests, but there were definitely a few classes you just loved being in the classroom for, learning stuff. Taking a class for pure interest is so amazing. You WANT to be there, the homework is not really that difficult (and it's only for practice, no "points off" for not doing it) and there's no tests. There's no grades, it's just about doing it because you WANT to know. It's awesome. I can't recommend it enough.

And as an added bonus, learning German has been a cool bonding experience with my dad. Often when I'm visiting my parents we'll just start saying words to each other. Me practising, him trying to remember. I help him remember, he helps me pronounce. It's pretty cool. My poor mother feels left out, but that's ok because usually I'm talking to her most of the time anyway.  (The other thing that my dad and I do that kind of ignores my mom is the crossword. haha)

So that's about it really, I'm learning German, I love it, and I hope to one day be able to live in Germany for a few years so I can really get this shit down pat. :) I have no pictures of me learning German to share here, so here's a picture of some wine I bought just because of the label!

Eins, zwei, drei, vier... FÜNF!

23 September 2012

Best Photo Booth

I'm a very big fan of photo booths. I mean, who isn't?! This weekend I went to a wedding that had the coolest photo booth ever! Well, technically it wasn't really a booth. These two guys dressed sort of old-timey (adorable) had a digital camera that looked like an old-timey camera and they had props. They took three photos and you chose your favourite and they printed them out for you. Here's the only one I took by myself. I love it!

If you're interested in such a booth for your party or wedding or whatever, they are called Shoot Booth! I can't recommend them enough!

17 September 2012

I Dashed! Warrior Style!

I'm a warrior!! Again!
Finally did my second Warrior Dash! I did the first one two Octobers ago (as mentioned here) where I was out until 4AM the night before getting drunk at the Marvel NYCC party and had to get up at 8AM to get to the race. I finished it in approx. 45 minutes which was pretty good, but considering I couldn't run for more than 2 minutes straight back then, I thought THIS time I would do even better! Now I can run for 35 minutes STRAIGHT since I've recently completed a couch to 5K program!! (BOO-YAH!)

And then I saw the hill. O_O For this Warrior Dash, I went all the way up to New Hampshire! (OK, I also visited an old friend, but this was what we planned our weekend around.) It was held at Gunstock in Gilford, NH. This is where people go skiing/snowboarding. So...HILLS. More like MOUNTAINS. The obstacles in the Warrior Dash can be challenging but not TOO bad. Some are downright easy, but the first thing we had to do in the New Hampshire dash was a giant hill. It seemed to never end. In fact we went uphill for the first 1.5 miles of a 3.1 mile run!! And it was STEEP. At some points it was almost like I could be on all fours and still be upright. It was brutal. BUT I DID IT! 

Medal #2! More to come!
The hardest obstacle was, I think, the straight wall we had to climb. It had a rope and little ledges, but it was still pretty difficult. The only other one I found hard was the balance beam, but that was mostly difficult because my legs were wobbly from all the climbing. The end was the best part, as we jumped over fire and trudged through a mud pit! Anyway, so I finished this one a LOT slower. Took me an hour & 19 minutes. I blame that hill. No way I was running up it, I was barely able to walk it!! All that running training came in NOT HANDY. Sigh. I guess I would probably have been worse without it.

Well, it was fun regardless. And we couldn't have asked for better weather, sunny but still breezy and cool! And I got an extra free beer (you get one) because a girl didn't want hers and then we bought giant turkey legs. Cuz that's what warriors eat.

Meal of Warriors!
So anyway, if you have any interest in fun mixed with a bit of fitness, I recommend a warrior dash! They go all over the country, so hopefully you can find one near you!

31 August 2012

I Run!

I can't believe I'm doing it, but I'm running! My entire life I hated running. Well... I guess I didn't hate it as a kid. I remember from the age range of about 10-12 there was this kid on my block that was really fast and I was the only one that was able to catch him (sometimes), so I know I ran at SOME point. But those runs were just short bursts anyway.

But I remember in high school, before I started, I was trying to start my high school career out right and doing extracurriculars in the preceding summer. Not only was I taking Russian and Electronics classes AHEAD of time (yes, I took summer school to get AHEAD. I am a nerd.) — I went to a technical high school that taught us drafting and electronics and we had to learn Russian — but I also decided I would try joining the track team. I had absolutely NO sports skills whatsoever. My parents never forced me to play any sports like most of my friends and I thought that was awesome (now I wish they had), so I wasn't about to join a school team where I could show off my LACK of skill. So instead I thought, "well everyone can run." Or something equally dumb. I think I went to two meets. I remember stretching beforehand and I remember we had to run around the school's grounds. I was dead so quickly. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up.

But NOW! Now I'm doing it!! A couple of months ago my friend posted on facebook that he was doing the NY Giant Run of Champions 5K that ended on the field at Giants Stadium! You got to run into the endzone!! THIS I needed to do. At first I though, "Eh, I'll just jog/mostly walk it, just so I can get to the field." But my friend suggested I try one of the couch-to-5K programs that are so popular these days. So of course I looked for an "app for that" and I found the 5K Runner (which, by the way, I HIGHLY recommend). It starts you off really slowly and in a way that is doable, doing like 4 sets of running like a minute or two followed by a minute or two walk. Which is great because at first three minutes felt awful and impossible. But by the time I got to the Giants run, I was running like 10 minutes straight, followed by a 3 minute walk and then another 5 minutes (not exactly this I'm sure, it was a few months ago)! Here's my results from that:

NY Giants Run of Champions 5K
I did it in 38 minutes!! I still can't believe it. But the best part? I haven't stopped! I decided I was going to do this thing! I've signed up for a 5K every month since then (except July). This week alone I did TWO! Last Sunday I ran the Color Run — the happiest 5K on the planet! It was amazing, you get hit with coloured powder as you run and at the end there's basically a giant rave of people dancing and throwing MORE colour at each other!

Here's me hamming it up, mostly green.
It was a great time. Then last night I did a 4-mile NYRR Back to Football Run! It was a run in Central Park to celebrate the return of football season! It was great! And I'm proud to say I didn't really walk very much at all. We stopped a couple of times at the beginning but not very long at all and from about the start of mile 3 to the end of 4 I only stopped for a few seconds to drink water. My pace was slightly slower than the Giants 5K but I definitely felt better for this one:

NYRR Back to Football Run
I still haven't technically finished the 5K program. I struggled with the 25 minute run mark, but a week or two ago I ran those 25 minutes, then added 5 more! Very soon I should be able to run a 5K without stopping! I can't wait!

Next month I'm visiting a friend in New Hampshire and I'll be doing my second Warrior Dash! It's a 5K in the mud with obstacles! I did one a couple years ago and the obstacles were fun but the running was so horrible for me. This time it should be much better. Then I've got a 5K on the boardwalk at Coney Island to raise money to help walruses in October and the Race to the Finish 5K in November (runs part of the NY Marathon course... the END part). I think for December I'll do the Jingle Bell Jog. :) Signing up for races keeps me from slacking off in between. 

Yay for running!!

PS One other app that really helped me get this running thing going, that I would be remiss not to mention, is the Zombies Run app. This app is so cool and so entertaining, I really push anyone who wants to run or who already does to check it out. It's not cheap, but it's worth it! Happy running!

23 August 2012


I just found out a friend of mine has passed. I don't know what happened. I can't claim that we were the best of friends as I haven't seen him in over two years, but I really liked him and I actually recently was thinking that I needed to reconnect with him. I am completely shocked and I can't really process this. He was such a sweet, funny guy. I missed him already and now I will miss him always. I'm just so glad I actually DID get to know him. Here's how we met:

I used to see Frank on the Staten Island train all the time. (There's one train, it goes down one side of the island and ends at the SI Ferry which is how most Staten Islanders get to their Manhattan jobs.) At first he just reminded me a lot of another friend of mine, which may be why I had this strange feeling that he was a comic book fan. I remember once at the ferry terminal I dropped a printout of a Marvel handbook I was editing and he was the one that picked it up for me and I remember wondering if he looked at it. I saw him a few times a month but never talked to him. I just remember feeling that we would be friends if we knew each other. I don't know why, I just knew it.

Then one day at the New York Comic Con (might've been the first one, I can't remember), I'm working the Marvel booth and I look over and see him talking to Brian Michael Bendis. Worlds colliding! I went over to Brian and said to him "I see this guy on my train all the time!" Frank looks at me and says "You're the comic book girl!! That's what I call you in my head!" Brian tells me Frank is a member of his message board, of which I also belong.

Later, I'm talking to Brian and he has this whole idea that there was going to be some romance here. I said he's crazy and just then Frank walks back over to the booth and says hello. "What are you doing here still?" "I work at Marvel." "Oh shit! I thought you just liked comics, I had no idea!" Then he mentions how he either just got from or was going to Jamaica with his fiancée. We talk a little more and he leaves and I turn to Brian and say "see??" (I later met his fiancée, she's a sweet, lovely woman who I imagine is a mess right now. I hope she gets through this ok.)

What followed after that were a series of train rides where we got to know each other. Talked about Bendis message board gossip, Staten Island gossip, his art, my job, our mutual friends, all the stuff you talk about with a new friend. I went to one of his art shows in Manhattan. I remember seeing him at a Halloween show on Staten Island. I was dressed as V (for Vendetta) and he was the first person to guess it was me. He had an art show on Staten Island, from which I bought one of his paintings (so glad I did that). I really liked being his friend.

Eventually he bought a house in a different part of Staten Island and I didn't see him on the train anymore. We communicated a little bit via various internet means. Then I moved to Queens and we were even further separated. It's one of those things where you always think there will be time to reconnect. There isn't. I am so crushed by this. The reality of "I will never see this person again" is just so... heartbreaking.

Everyone goes through their daily lives and sees the same people there every day, it's so rare you see someone and take note and just KNOW that you would be friends if you met. That we actually DID become friends is so amazing and I am so happy for that.

I will always miss him.

Frank drew this robot version of me.