Underlying photo by Allie on Unsplash
Red may think that the journey of Red & Black started the night that her husband was fired (read her version, It Was A Rainy Friday), and technically she may be correct. Or, maybe it started when we were growing up, and that Friday was merely a life-changing event (for her). Regardless, I typically do not reminisce but, at least, want to provide my version of that rainy Friday.

It was your basic Friday night, which meant I went out to dinner with my husband and enjoyed a good meal with an expensive bottle of fine wine.

And, I was responsible for the conversation. However, that could have described almost any evening.

Upon our return to the house, he would plant himself in front of the television and quickly fall asleep. Which was my cue to go upstairs to my home office and check emails. (It was 2004, so before everyone was tethered to smart phones.) On this particular evening, there was an email from my sister, simply stating "I need to talk to you about Nick as soon as possible! It's serious." She had sent it just before 10 p.m. and it was now almost 11 p.m. I started to call her, but then realized how odd it was that she sent me an email versus trying my cell phone or leaving a message on our house phone. So, I emailed her to call me when she got the message – regardless of the time.

I started to run through the various scenarios of what could be wrong with Nick. Taking into consideration that my sister was warm and fuzzy, and tended to be overly emotional (the fact she had gotten a degree in theater only made it worse), did not help narrow down the options. Until I focused on the fact it was a single simple sentence. That alarmed me. It was totally out of character for her, as typically I would have had to wade through all the words to find the key point. So, I immediately started to think the worst – he was seriously ill or had been in an accident.

Since there was nothing more I could do, I finished up some emails, did a little paperwork, and once the snoring had moved from the living room to the bedroom went back downstairs.

I am an early riser, so was back at my computer well before 6 a.m. and still no email from Red. But, when I finally heard from her and she let me know that he had been fired, I was relieved. It was not as bad as anything I had imagined. Plus, I had lost my job in the energy industry – not once, but twice (once due to a downturn in the industry and once due to corporate politics), so did not find the situation overly dire.

OK, so maybe she was looking for sympathy and/or a compassionate response … but I have been her older sister her entire life. She should have known better. And, to this day, even though I have told "my version" of this story to thousands of people at speaking engagements, Red still laughs at herself for being surprised by my initial reaction.

So, when Black mentions Redhead Appreciation Day, I know it’s related to Red & Black and not her being “nice” and giving me a day off (or telling me that she appreciates me). And when she asks, “What is it like to be a redhead, Red?” part of me wants to reply, “What’s it like not to be a redhead?” because, for my entire life, I’ve been “Red.” (There’s a story there, but I’ll get to it later.) The honest answer is, well, I never thought about it, until now …

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Photograph of Jackie Aguilera courtesy of Jackie Aguilera


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I have a confession to make, which I’m sure will make you roll your eyes.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Interesting caveat and probably true.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Every time we meet with Jackie (Aguilera) from the Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy and hear what she’s doing in the world of adult education, I feel like I’m back in school and having to take copious notes.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I am more than happy to send you “homework assignments” as I come across relevant articles and research.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to taking notes. But that does explain why you’re so knowledgeable about literacy.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

But, reading information is very different from being at the forefront of literacy innovation. And, if we had never met Jackie, I never would have realized how literacy is more than the dictionary definition, and encompasses more than just reading and writing.
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Photo by Lynda Sanchez on Unsplash

As Black knows, going to the movies is my escape (and even sends me research about it), but she also knows that it’s all about the popcorn. So, it should come as no surprise that’s how I like to celebrate my birthday. And even though she’s not one to “celebrate” birthdays, she does indulge (or maybe the word is “tolerate”) people who do, and whenever my birthday falls on a workday, she gives me “permission” to escape to the movies.

Which is what I’m doing today on my milestone birthday, and although the “rerun” part of this post (below the line) was from last November, some things never change. Except … this year, as I’ll be waiting for the movie to start (and waiting to start eating my popcorn as I refuse to eat even a single kernel beforehand), I know I’ll be wondering, “How did I get to be 60 years old?!”

It's a running joke in my family that the only reason I go to the movies is for the popcorn. And while that isn't 100% true, it's probably close as I can't remember a time when popcorn wasn't an essential part of the experience. (I'll admit I couldn't believe it when I recently read that South Korea's banning movie popcorn in the theater!)

I can still remember seeing "Young Frankenstein" when it was first released (in 1974) at the Massapequa movie theater, which was literally at one end of an old strip shopping center. It bore no resemblance to the multiplex cinemas of today, and the concession stand offerings were very limited. It was dark and a bit dingy, and the seats were old and uncomfortable. But I didn't care because the popcorn made up for it. And while I sat through multiple showings of the movie (hey, it's still one of my favorites), I was grateful that my dad had given me enough money to get multiple popcorns as in those days, there was no such thing as the big bucket, let alone free refills.

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