Christian Mingle

A little over a year ago, a friend of mine met someone special online.  She was absolutely giddy over her new romance.  They were engaged two months later.  As it turned out, she met him on Christian Mingle.

I had seen the commercials with couples blissfully recanting how they met online.  Even better, they knew ahead of time that they were equally yoked.  Because, well, they were Christian.  I had already sworn off online dating.  But online dating in the name of the lord was different, right?

Immediately I took a liking to Christian Mingle.  They closely monitored profile essays and photo submissions for appropriateness.  Some find that level of scrutiny stifling and overbearing. I liked it.  Being a Catholic schoolgirl, I could appreciate over-the-top structure (not while I was there, of course). 

A few weeks in, I noticed a category that I had not seen on other dating sites.  Users could display their preferences for the ethnicity of their ideal mate.  How DARE THEY call themselves a Christian website while promoting division amongst people who SHOULD be unified in their love for Christ.  My bible thumping finger might have been a little rusty, but that didn't seem right.  With race relations escalating all over the country, I am seeing many of my peers denouncing Christianity because of claims that it was used as an aid to oppress us for many years.  Could it be???

On the other hand, I saw the silver lining in their ignorance.  These guys were putting their prejudice on front street.  Seeing it out in the open like that prevented me from wasting my time.  Even so, it still disturbed me.

I needed to do some deep soul searching.  And searching of the soul I did.  Pain and confusion consumed me as I considered the possibility that the religion I grew up believing in wasn't meant for me at all.  It didn't help that I came across a forum where a "christian" woman was concerned that her daughter wanted to marry an "ethnic".  REALLY LADY??? What the hell is an ethnic?  Anyway, the commenters were just as stupid as she was.  One even suggesting that she forbid it because he knew of ethnics who preyed on young white women for the purpose of impregnating them and making light babies and if the babies' features weren't caucasian enough, they would beat the woman.  I couldn't. I can't. I won't.

As discouraging as the experience was, I came to a solid conclusion about my faith.  For all intents and purposes, the bible does not state any one race is above others.  In fact, Jesus teaches people to exercise love and kindness to all. Period.  I also recognized that with any religion, you have folks who will twist the teachings to fit their own selfish beliefs (jihad ring a bell).

I stopped using Christian Mingle after about a month, but had purchased a six month subscription (I was going to find my husband...okay).  When the subscription period ended, I contacted them via phone to cancel, and provide some feedback hoping they would take heed to what I had to say.  Unfortunately the woman who answered the phone had the personality of an overworked DMV clerk, and couldn't have cared less about my opinion. 

In the end, it all worked out the way it was supposed to.  Those weren't the kind of Christians I wanted to mingle with anyway.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea...

Yet none of them were for me!

Ahhh, Plenty of Fish (POF).  Many a laugh begins with just a mention of its name.  One lesson that using this site taught me was free is NOT always better.

Remember Taylor?  No?  Click his name to find out more.  He was only one of many that I met on POF.  Another memorable story was my bff's ex-boyfriend hitting on me.  Initially she and I thought he didn't remember me, and once we gently reminded him he would back off.  Wrong!  To add insult to injury, his brother also attempted to court me.  While I try not to make a habit of pinning doucebaggery on a whole clan of people, I couldn't help but imagine a few awkward holiday dinners in our future.  So I passed.

Pervs.  I cannot mention POF without giving pervs the honorable mention they deserve.  There were lots of them. LOTS.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand how someone can solicit sex from a total stranger online.  It shouldn't surprise me.  People have been soliciting sex from strangers since the beginning of time.  It is called the oldest profession, after all.  That doesn't stop me from shaking my head in disgust when I see it either on a profile or in my inbox.

Another gripe I had about POF were the profiles themselves.  Spelling and grammar are very important to me.  The misuse of homophones should be punishable by flogging in my opinion.  Okay, maybe it's not that bad.  But I really hate it.  POF was riddled with poorly written profiles.  Many of which espoused misogynistic views.  Oh, and a profile picture with money, drugs, or people making obscene gestures is an automatic "no".

On a positive note, Plenty of Fish gave me fodder for my blog as well as some great stories to tell over drinks with the girls.  Unfortunately, it didn't offer much more than that.  I've heard about other people becoming friends with men they met on the site. While I'm glad it yielded a level of success for them, I won't be logging in again anytime soon (read: never).

Movie Review: 50 Shades of Grey

Since viewing the trailer last May, I've been moaning "uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, oh no no" every chance I get.  Well, maybe just randomly during conversations with friends.  I watched it numerous times, anticipating the moment I could see ALL 50 shades of Mr. Grey from platinum to slate, and everything in between.  Me and a few friends made this our Valentine's Day outing.

I wasn't sure what to expect.  There has been a lot of hype around the movie due to the popularity of the book.  Admittedly, E.L. James is no Charles Dickens, but the sexy billionaire with mommy issues and a twitchy palm seemed to beat any "great expectations" readers had for timeless literature.  I'm sure hot sex scenes and BDSM might have had something to do with its widespread reception. 

From the beginning scene with James Dornan running in the rain, my body perked up.  Ummm...who is he and where has he been?  His portrayal of Christian Grey was remarkable.  From his intense, borderline psychotic stares to his seductive movements, it was as if he had climbed right out of the pages of James's books onto the screen.

Dakota Johnson's performance as Anastasia Steele was hit and miss in my opinion.  It took a bit for me to get into her. Let's start with her interview with Christian.  While I don't recall the details of the book itself, her chewing on the tip of the pencil felt manufactured.  She went from tripping in the doorway to chewing seductively on the tip of a pencil (one that she herself didn't bring into the interview) in a matter of minutes.  One could argue that it was a nervous habit of hers, but eh. 

Steele's character in the movie seemed more sure of herself than in the book.  Less of the annoying inner dialog and more back talk to Christian's craziness.  Yes!  Johnson's character maintained the naive, curious traits from the book while adding more individuality.  When she told Christian she was going to visit her mother in Savannah, she didn't back down even after he had his little tantrum.  Sure he practically dragged her from the table then stalked her all the way down there (red flag), but she didn't back down.  Simply put, Ana was less pathetic in the movie.  And I approve of that message.

Other reviews that I've read called the chemistry between Johnson and Dornan into question.  I saw a magnetic pull between the two of them.  The kind of attraction that keeps a person coming a moth to a flame.  Christian is mysterious, dangerous, and exciting.  His behavior is erratic.  He warns Ana to stay away.  Yet the two of them can't seem to abstain from one another.  Ana sees the signs, but lets her curiosity get the best of her while Christian struggles with his demons and newfound love for her.  It all comes to a head at the end when she asks him to show her how bad he wants to hurt her, and he does.  Something about that scene gripped me.  His satisfaction, her pain and tears. Yeah, I'd definitely say there was a twisted chemistry there.

Now I'm going to get downright nit picky.  Those shoes she wore.  Can wardrobe please intervene?  Can the budget be increased?  Can we start a crowdfunding campaign?  I just really, really want her to have better shoes for the next movie.  Also, Dakota looked old(er) to me.  There were a few times during movie when I thought to myself "she looks a little long in the tooth to play Anastasia".  As it turns out, Dakota Johnson is only 25.  Not sure if she's a natural blond, but she does look more youthful with blond hair in my opinion.  But as we all know, Ana is a brunette.  Still thought it was worth mentioning though.

Overall, I'd have to say this is one of the only movies that I enjoyed more than the book itself.  50 Shades of Grey was a decent read.  The director did a great job of extracting the essence of the characters without inundating the audience with unnecessary details.  Almost all of the scenes were exactly as I had imagined them while reading the book.  Kudos  And the ending.  We all knew it was coming, but we didn't think it would be so abrupt.  They set it up perfectly for a sequel.  I didn't leave disappointed, and look forward to the next opening weekend.