Valentine’s Day Writing Tag

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Once again, Jenna Moreci has participated in a holiday-related writing tag and once again, I decided to blog about it. Valentine’s Day may be over, but since all the candy is on sale for uber-cheap, I decided to keep up the spirit since I was a bit busy being penitential yesterday for Ash Wednesday.

The Valentine’s Day writing tag was created by AuthorTube vlogger Bree Barton, whose debut novel will be coming out this year.

RULES: Describe your WIP in three sentences or fewer. Then answer the following 10 questions.

For this tag, I want to use the characters from my chick lit novel, Love Notes. Love Notes centers on Allie, an aspiring professional pianist who becomes a contestant in a talent search reality show around the same time she begins a relationship with the bass player of a semi-famous rock band. Allie’s ability to be more sociable are constantly put to the test, as she is portrayed as the token “Ice Queen.” Will Allie be able to find her creative voice and become the musician she always wanted to be?

Well, that’s what you’ll have to find out.

Onto the questions!

1. Which character does something epic for another character on Valentine’s Day, only to have it go epically wrong?

This doesn’t happen in the novel, but Allie has tried a grand gesture for her ex-boyfriend back in her college days by singing karaoke in public for him and it went epically wrong because he verbally chastised her after she finished singing. Did I mention that her ex-boyfriend is a narcissistic jerk?

2. Nine million people buy their pets a gift for Valentine’s Day. Which of your characters does this, and what’s the gift?

Nobody in my novel owns any pets, but I can see Elena doing this. Elena is a dancer that Allie befriends on the show. Elena is sweet, nice, and would probably buy a cozy Valentine’s Day sweater for the most adorable kitten in the world.

3. Which character is celebrating Singles Awareness Day (S.A.D.) and how do they celebrate?

Allie’s sister, Stephanie. Stephanie is a college senior interning for a TV show and prefers to just casually date guys for the moment. However, she does want to have a serious relationship eventually, so she would celebrate the “S.A.D.” part of Single Awareness Day by watching Marilyn Monroe movies like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to boost her mood.

4. In 1537, King Henry the Eighth declared February 14th the official holiday of St. Valentine . . . the same King Henry who beheaded two of his six wives. Which character decides to murder someone on February 14th?

Spoiler alert: nobody dies or tries to kill anyone in Love Notes. It’s not that kind of novel! But if someone were inclined to kill someone, even on Valentine’s Day, it would be Regan. Regan is the main antagonist in Love Notes who acts like such a sweet girl on camera, but is actually a total diva in real life. If she could, Regan would murder the people she considers to be her biggest threats to winning the show. And she wouldn’t care if she did it on Valentine’s Day. But that’s not something she would say out loud!

5. Which character writes and performs a sappy love song for their crush?

Jethro, no contest. Jethro is Allie’s new boyfriend and the bass player of a rock band. He also writes songs along with the other members of his band. He actually wrote a sappy love song for her that they dance to in one of the chapters. It’s an adorable little scene!

6. Fill in the blanks: I saw ________ [character] give a box of __________ [noun] to __________ [other character], which made them wildly __________ [adjective/verb].

I saw Cassie give a box of baby clothes to her husband, Pete, which made him wildly ecstatic and sappy. Cassie and Pete are part of Jethro’s band, happily married, but they’re at a point in their lives when they want to have kids. This would probably be Cassie’s way of telling Pete that she was expecting.

7. Every February, the Italian city of Verona receives approximately 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet. Which character writes a love letter to someone who does not exist, and what does it say?

I’m gonna pick a minor character for this one and go with one of the Songbirds. The Songbirds are Regan’s cronies and they’re basically an a capella quartet, but you can’t really tell any of them apart aside from their hair color because they all act very similar. I can see any one of them writing a letter to their “Future Husband” in the Meghan Trainor style. Like “Dear Future Husband, I’m writing this cuz I want to let you know what I want out of a relationship…” You get the idea.

8. Which character breaks up with their significant other on Valentine’s Day by text message (or an equally awful way if there are no texts in your world)?

Eric. Remember that narcissistic jerk of an ex-boyfriend that I mentioned earlier? That’s him. Eric is the most entitled, presumptuous rake who thinks that he’s the smartest man in the universe and deserves the smartest, prettiest woman as his wife. He would dump a girl on Valentine’s Day via text message without a second thought if he finds someone else or just because he doesn’t see any value in her anymore.

9. In Finland, Valentine’s Day isn’t romantic—it’s called Ystävänpäivä, or “Friend’s Day.” Which character celebrates Friend’s Day by playing a massive prank?

Ruby would probably do this. Ruby is an aspiring country rock singer from Memphis who wouldn’t mind playing a prank on the reality show favorites like Regan or the Songbirds as a nice set-down. Regan and her cronies usually get perceived as being the cool girls that everyone wants to be friends with, so a little on-camera prank would show the world what kind of people they really are.

10. One of your characters consumes too much chocolate and champagne and gets sick all over the love of their life. Which character is it?

Chad, the token “heartthrob” of the show, whose only talent is being the white guy with the acoustic guitar. Aside from Ted, Chad is a guy who can get carried away with himself and I can see him overindulging on all the Valentine’s Day related food and drink, only to puke all over Regan because he doesn’t actually have any game underneath his pretty boy demeanor. Chad is the epitome of “all style, no substance.”

How To Survive Valentine’s Day When It’s Also Ash Wednesday

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It’s that time of year again. If you want proof that God has a sick and twisted sense of humor, look at your calendar. Not only does Ash Wednesday fall today, which is also Valentine’s Day, but Easter falls on April Fool’s Day.

For today, I want to focus on how you, fellow Catholics, can survive this day, whether you are single or in a relationship, because Valentine’s Day is hard enough as it is!

  1. If you’re in a relationship, be creative with what you cook for dinner tonight. If dinner is your “big meal,” try making a cheese pizza (no meat) or some nice salmon filets. Or make plans to eat out at a restaurant on Saturday and use today as an opportunity to practice patience!
  2. If you’re single, make breakfast your “big meal.” Having a healthy breakfast will help you have enough energy for the rest of the day.
  3. Drink plenty of liquids throughout the day: water, orange juice, vegetable juice, milk, or hot chocolate if you’re in the Valentine’s mood. Hot chocolate doesn’t count as a meal or a snack, at least not for me.
  4. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, spend time in Adoration today! Check if your local church has the Blessed Sacrament exposed or just spend time in prayer.
  5. Remember that all the Valentine’s Day candy will be very cheap tomorrow. But don’t be a glutton!
  6. Use today as an opportunity to practice charity, which is a higher form of love than just romantic love. Be kind to everyone you meet today, even the person who cuts you off in traffic.
  7. If you’re sick of the Fifty Shades hype, check out Fight The New Drug’s anti-abuse campaign!
  8. If you’re wondering what romantic-related show you should watch today, the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice is on Hulu, as well as Sense and Sensibility (mini-series, not the Ang Lee version). You can’t beat the classics!
  9. Enjoy these penitential Valentine cards from Jason Bach Cartoons!
  10. #MementoMori: Remember that death is inevitable, even on Valentine’s Day.

 

Happy VaLENTine’s Day, everyone!

 

Catholic Dating Problem Part 1: Waiting and Finding

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Happy Valentine’s Day! As everyone already knows, single people have a hard enough time dealing with their single status every other day of the year, but there’s something about Valentine’s Day that makes being single even more loathsome. When you’re a single Catholic young adult, the dating scene becomes a lot more complicated and being single is about 10x harder. I shared this article on my Facebook and got the following response:

 

Jillian W.:  I have the exact opposite problem. I don’t understand the concept of a single Catholic man, because they don’t exist. Every Catholic guy I know is either dating, married, or a seminarian. And I don’t get it when people say they are going on a dating fast because how do you get so many people to ask you out that you have to “take a break”. Like, I don’t even know how to get a bloody date in the first place (because there are no single Catholic men, much less ones that have ever shown an interest). I’m not single by choice or because it feels safe, in single because there’s no one to ask me out and even when there are, they don’t because no one is ever interested in me.

 

After asking other young Catholics about their POVVs in regards to the dating scene, I decided that this will be the first of a series called “Catholic Dating Problems.” The first major problem that most single Catholics have when it comes to dating: Finding somebody!

 

Like my friend Jillian, I am not single by choice, nor have I met someone who’s going on a “dating fast.” While I have a good group of single male friends, none of them are interested in me as a girlfriend. Nor do I want them to ask me out because I don’t see every guy out there as potential future husbands. I find it hard to believe that you can just look at a person and just know that he or she is the person you’re gonna be with for the rest of your life. It’s hard enough for me to communicate with someone I don’t know given that I have Asperger’s. How am I supposed to know whether or not the next guy I date is going to be “the one?”

 

One problem with finding the right person is knowing where to look.

 

My friend Clint M. said, “I honestly see a heavily pervasive secular culture influence the way Catholics interact and date. Where some embrace that culture wholeheartedly to the detriment of their faith, others reject it so thoroughly that they fail to provide adequate witness to those who have embraced secular approaches to relationships.”

 

There are a million and one ways to meet someone…the real problem is sifting through all the frogs to find that prince or princess. As hard as this is for me to say, I can’t offer any easy answers to this problem. I do hope, though, that this series will help those who are single deal with the longing that we all suffer with.

 

I  struggle with jealousy whenever other friends talk about how they just clicked with their significant others. I don’t mean wishing harm on those who have what I want. It’s more that I simply want the happiness that people in great relationships have. It’s that old Queen song again: Can anybody find me somebody to love?

 

God can. And no, that’s not an easy answer either. God’s time and will does not bend itself to whatever we want, whenever we want it. I often see posts that say that whenever we feel lonely, it’s God’s way of calling us to be close to Him. And while it helps when it comes to building a personal relationship with Christ, it doesn’t help on Valentine’s Day when we’re watching bad romantic comedies and binge-eating chocolate ice cream.

 

So what can we do when we deal with the Valentine’s Day Blues?

 

Check out this poem about Lent by William Arthur Ward:

 

Fasting and Feasting

Lent should be more than a time of fasting.
It should also be a joyous season of feasting.
Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others.

It is a season to turn to God:

Fast from judging others; feast on the goodness in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent: feast on gratitude. 

Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives: feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from facts that depress; feasts on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that supports.

No matter how hard it may seem, hold out hope that God will lead you to whatever you are called to do. Until then, find the light in the darkness. It will at least save you some calories and hours wasted on bad movies.

50 Random Acts of Kindness

So this week isn’t only just the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. It’s also Random Acts of Kindness Week. There are a lot of ideas on the Random Acts of Kindness website but I thought about some places you can go to, people you can spend time with, and prayers to pray. Yes, prayers are acts of kindness too. So instead of spending Valentine’s Day, or heck, any day this week, complaining or crying over some kind of relationship problem, take the time to do some random acts of kindness.

10 Places You Can Donate $50 to

  1. A domestic violence shelter
  2. A homeless shelter
  3. Your local church
  4. A crisis pregnancy center
  5. Your local hospital or blood drive
  6. The local food pantry (use the money to buy food and donate the food to the food pantry)
  7. Go to your closet, dig out $50 of clothes you don’t wear anymore, and donate those clothes
  8. Chastity Project
  9. A pro-life organization like And Then There Were None
  10. Fight The New Drug, an anti-pornography organization

10 Acts of Kindness For Friends

  1. Pay for your friend’s coffee
  2. Treat a friend you haven’t seen in a long time to lunch or dinner
  3. Bake something for a friend
  4. Make a photo album/scrapbook
  5. Make a gift basket
  6. Treat your female friends to a beauty salon treat they love like a mani-pedi
  7. Splurge on a great multiplayer video game for your guy friends
  8. Listen to your friends vent about anything and everything
  9. Draw/paint a picture or write a poem for someone just because
  10. Write a letter to someone you haven’t talked to in forever

10 Acts of Kindness for Family

  1. Call up a family member you haven’t talked to in forever. Even if it’s your mother-in-law
  2. Send flowers to a family member you like the least
  3. Make a gift for your nephew or niece or second cousins
  4. Offer to babysit said younger family members
  5. Plan a family gathering with games and karaoke. (The karaoke is optional.)
  6. Offer prayers to family members who have fallen away or hate you
  7. Pray for family members who have passed away
  8. Spend time with older family members and get to know them.
  9. Send a care package to any family members who are in college.
  10. Send a care package to any family members in the military.

10 Places to Volunteer

  1. Your local domestic violence shelter
  2. A local soup kitchen or food pantry
  3. A children’s hospital
  4. A retirement home
  5. A crisis pregnancy center
  6. Your local church’s youth group
  7. A language learning center
  8. Any extracurricular activities in inner city schools
  9. Your local thrift shop
  10. Your local library

10 Prayer Intentions

  1. The souls in purgatory
  2. The souls of aborted children
  3. People in abusive or violent relationships
  4. People who are struggling with their faith
  5. The homeless people you see on the street
  6. The people who live in poverty all around the world
  7. Those who serve in the military
  8. Peace for the whole world
  9. Our politicians
  10. Those who have no one to pray for

 

50 Things to Do Instead

Instead of what you may ask?

Instead of seeing or reading Fifty Shades of Grey. For the love of all that is good and holy, do not go out to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Don’t even read the book or its sequels. Both of them are different forms of soft-core porn that promotes domestic abuse and violence in relationships. So here are 50 things you can do for Valentine’s Day instead, whether you are single or in a relationship.

 

10 Movies I Recommend

 

  1. The Princess Bride. A classic fantasy/comedy that stars Cary Elwes, the only actor I know so far who’s 100% JP2 approved. (Inconceivable, you say? Read this if you don’t believe me!) And even if you’ve seen the movie before, I highly recommend re-watching it.
  2. Casablanca. This is a classic movie that is both romantic and historically significant. I got introduced to the movie in history class and my teacher said outright that it was basically an allegory of what was going on during WWII, specifically, the call to get America involved in the war.
  3. Clueless. A classic teen chick flick. Before the days of Mean Girls, this was the go-to high school chick flick. The technology is a bit dated, but the fashion’s making a comeback. Besides that, where do you think the styles from that Iggy Azalea video came from?
  4. Mean Girls. Because why not? This and Clueless are suggestions for singles, but I think this movie can be funny enough for guys to enjoy.
  5. Any movie with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn (Holiday, Sylvia Scarlett, The Philadelphia Story, and Bringing Up Baby.)
  6. Any movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Or just any Meg Ryan movie. Most Hallmark movies wish they were Meg Ryan movies anyway. Just not that Meg Ryan movie with Nicholas Cage. A romantic lead, he is not.
  7. Fireproof. A movie about a couple struggling with their marriage and a firefighter struggling with his faith. I love this movie as a whole, even if some parts tended to bug me. Still, I think it’s a great movie to watch.
  8. Gimme Shelter. A movie about a foster child looking for a home. This isn’t a romantic movie, but shows that family can be found in a lot of places.
  9. Return to Me: A movie starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver. Another movie about finding love where you least expect it.
  10. If you have to go out to the movies on Valentine’s Day, I’d rather you see one of two movies: Old Fashioned or The Last Five YearsI’ll be posting reviews on both of these movies later this month, but I’d be lying if I’d be saying that I wasn’t looking forward to The Last Five Years more. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good musical.

 

 

10 TV Shows I Recommend

 

  1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Why would I want to watch some cheesy 90s show about vampires, you might ask? Because it kind of is and it kind of isn’t about vampires. Watch this video a fellow Buffy fan made and see if it intrigues you. For those who haven’t watched the show, I recommend that you start by watching “School Hard.” It’s not exactly a romantic episode, but it establishes a lot and has a lot of action. And there are some stuff dealing with relationships in that particular episode as well. For those who’ve watched the show and want a good episode to watch for Valentine’s Day, I recommend “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Lover’s Walk,” “The Prom,” “Once More With Feeling,” and “Tabula Rasa.” Full-on marathons of your favorite season or episodes are also recommended, but just remember you’ll probably be crying when you’re done.
  2. Doctor Who: This one kind of speaks for itself. Who doesn’t love a little wibbley-wobbley, timey-wimey? If you haven’t watched the show, I recommend “Blink” or “The Eleventh Hour.” If you have watched the show, I recommend “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” two-parter, “School Reunion,” “The Girl in the Fireplace,” “The Shakespeare Code,” “Partners in Crime,” “Vampires of Venice,” “Amy’s Choice, “The Lodger,” “The Doctor’s Wife,” and “The Girl Who Waited.” Or just marathon your favorite season/Doctor.
  3. Firefly: This is for those who love sci-fi that kind of breaks out of the norms of the clean and lens-flarey stuff of Star Trek and Star Wars. While I’m a casual fan of the latter, I’m a bigger fan of the former. If you never watched the show, start with “The Train Job” or “Out of Gas” or the film Serenity. If you’re looking for a romantic episode, I highly recommend “Shindig” which is my personal favorite or “Our Mrs. Reynolds.” Marathoning this show is also easy enough, but will also likely leave you crying in the end.
  4. Pride and Prejudice. The classic 1995 BBC mini-series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle I also recommend most adaptations of Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion.
  5. Death Comes to Pemberley: Based on a fan-created sequel to Pride and Prejudice, this mini-series combines a murder mystery and the romance of period dramas.
  6. The Bible mini-series. Might as well get started for Lent!
  7. The Office: A favorite of many of my friends. Emily Allen says “Even though they have sex outside of marriage, they are open to life/happily welcome a surprise baby, they get married, and seeing how they work through their issues is like hella inspiring. I actually wrote a persuasive essay on ways they embody Christian marriage on secular TV.” She recommends watching the Jim and Pam-centric episodes. Office fans, please do me a favor and comment an episode you’d recommend to non-fans.
  8. Gilmore Girls. This is mostly for the ladies. I grew up watching this show, so I honestly wouldn’t know what episode to recommend to non-fans. Just watch the first season on Netflix and see if you like it.
  9. RWBY. I recommend this show to fans of action-oriented animated shows. It centers on a group of female protagonists who fight monsters. There’s a lot of fairy tale/folklore themes and lots of fight scenes. Keep in mind, though, that this show was independently produced on a shoestring budget, so production values aren’t A-grade. But if you want a show with dynamic characters, I highly recommend it. It’s available on YouTube and Netflix.
  10. Youtube adaptations of literary classics. This has become the latest trend in online video. It’s also a great way to take a fresh perspective on classic literature. I personally recommend The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Autobiography of Jane Eyre, and A Tell Tale Vlog. There are other adaptations for works such as Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and Much Ado About Nothing. Check them out if you’re interested.

 

 

10 Books to Read

  1. Anything by St. John Paul II, especially Love and Responsibility, Theology of the Body, and The Jeweler’s Shop
  2. The Beginner’s Guide to the Theology of the Body by Christopher West. It helped me understand Theology of the Body a lot.
  3. The Bible: Specifically the book of Ruth, Song of Songs/Song of Solomon, the book of Tobit, the Gospel of John, 1 Corinthians, and any of John’s letters.
  4. The Four Loves by CS Lewis.
  5. The Picture of Dorian Gray. If you have to be with a Mister Grey, I would rather you learn the story of this tragic figure whose narcissism led to his own undoing. I think the themes of this book still apply today.
  6. The Five Love Languages. 
  7. Anything from Jane Austen. In particular: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Persuasion. I also have a soft spot for Mansfield Park, but I’ll go into why I don’t recommend it in a later post.
  8. Anything by Jason and Crystalina Evert. Especially How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul, St. John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, Purity 365
  9. Chastity is For Lovers by Arleen Spenceley. See previous posts as to why.
  10. Woman In Love by Katie Hartfiel. See previous posts as to why.

 

 

20 Activities

  1. Prayer. Go to Adoration. Go to Daily Mass. Pray the Rosary.
  2. Spend $50 on something other than the books or the movies or anything relating to Fifty Shades of Grey. Donate to a battered women’s shelter or give that money to a homeless person.
  3. Carve something out of soap
  4. Learn calligraphy
  5. A Metropolitan Opera version of The Marriage of Figaro, even if you think you hate opera.
  6. Write an actual letter to someone you haven’t seen in a long time.
  7. Play. Play in the snow if you live north of the Mason-Dixon line and have snow in your area. Super Smash Bros or Mario Kart. Play board games. Play card games. Play dominos.
  8. Go to Half-Price Books.
  9. Spend an evening doing photo shoots with your friends or your significant other. “Doesn’t have to be sexy unless you want it to be, but it’s a good way of slowing down and taking a good, slow look at the person you’ve gotten used to living with, and it makes the photo subject feel really special.” -Simcha Fischer
  10. Use a Saint Randomizer to find a saint and read/learn about them. Pray for their intercession.
  11. Dig out old photo albums/diaries and look at the pictures/read the entries.
  12. Go to a national park. Admission is free from Feb. 14-16th for President’s Day Weekend.
  13. Make a Valentine’s day basket (candy, cards, cheap gift) and give it to someone in person. Give it to a homeless person.
  14. Send flowers to someone for no reason. Hand roses out to people on the street
  15. Look into various religious orders/vocations.
  16. “Couple of months ago, we went out to a noisy, beery pool hall for a date. SO MUCH FUN. So different from an evening at home with the kids and the dog. It was like the best parts of being in college again, without all the existential angst.”- Simcha Fischer
  17. Trampoline dodgeball
  18. Zip lining
  19. Horseback riding
  20. Spend your day doing random acts of kindness like paying for someone else’s coffee or meal, taking over someone else’s chores for the day, baking cookies for someone. I can make a list of 50 random acts of kindness to do. In fact, that’s probably what I’ll be posting on Monday.

Perspectives on Past Relationships

The beginning of February brings on many mixed emotions throughout the American population as Valentine’s Day gets closer and closer. Hallmark Channel is doing a Countdown to Valentine’s Day, three movies targeted towards couples are being released on that day, and people are sent into a frantic frenzy of frivolous freak-outs. The people in relationships worry about what kind of gift to get their significant other. The single people worry about dying alone and not having a date for February 14th.

 

I decided to take a step back and talk about my relationship history. For the longest time, I always saw myself as having the worst luck. Either the guy I had feelings for didn’t return my feelings or the relationships were with the wrong guy. It took me some time to realize that one major problem with my crushes and relationships was too much emotional investment, too little rational thinking, and a lot of bad timing. To save myself and the parties involved major humiliation, I will use pseudonyms. Brace yourselves. You’re in for a long story.

 

My first relationship took place when I lived in California. George was my friend from eighth grade. He had a weird, dry sense of humor and our friendship was a bit strained while we adjusted to high school life. But after a bit of flirting, he finally kissed me. There was just one problem…I had to move across the country. I had to leave California dust bowl for the wide open skies of Texas.

 

To say that the move was unwanted at the time was an understatement. With time, I realized that George saw our relationship as good as over, but I still held onto hope. I lived with that delusion up until one of my friends, whom we’ll call Lydia, sent me a message via MySpace (the early 2000s version of Facebook). Lydia told me that she saw George dating someone else. Except she forgot to mention that she was the girl George was seeing. I didn’t find that part out until years later, when I was in college when I saw Lydia’s profile picture, which featured a picture of her and George together. I was furious at both of them, to the point that I contemplated making them the antagonists for a book I was writing.

 

It wasn’t like I still had feelings for George. I was just mad that I never got closure. To me, it felt like my friend stole George from me. But I let that grudge go on for a lot longer than I should’ve. With time, I learned to forgive both of them. I’m actually still friends with Lydia and talk to her sometimes on Facebook. And while I haven’t talked to George since I moved, I hope for the best for him.

 

While I was still in high school, getting over George, I had a friend we’ll call John. John was your typical high school bad boy, complete with the fact that he was spiritual, but not religious. He made me laugh like no other guy ever did. I could talk to him about anything and everything, so falling for him was basically inevitable. But like any relationship with a bad boy, things were complicated. He was living with his exgirlfriend by the time he and I got together and I was getting started with college. Although we never had sex, I gave away parts of myself that I shouldn’t have. On top of all that, he was also enlisted in the military. Most of our time together was spent over the phone and John’s time in the military changed him into someone I didn’t recognize. He went from being agnostic to losing faith in everything altogether. By the time I was in my 2nd year of college, my friends made me realize how wrong for me he was. I basically got to the point where I would either let him back into my life or dive into my renewed relationship with God. During the winter break of my 2nd year of college, I chose God.

 

But that’s not to say that my college years were all about studying and developing my spiritual life. I kind of look back on those years and see myself as clueless and boy crazy, having a crush on a different guy almost every year. Then, during my third year of college, there was David, a guy I met in a dance class. I took dance classes as a way for me to improve on my social skills. He was tall, charming, and shy. And like a fairy tale prince, he was there for me when I had a bad day. Then I made a big mistake. I made a move on him and said “I missed you.” Things cooled down between us until Valentine’s Day, when he called me up and asked me out on a date. It was awkward to say the least. And the dates we went out on after that were still awkward. I felt like I was pulling my teeth as I was trying to maintain a conversation with him. And I probably would’ve backed out with less pain if it wasn’t for my best friend, Angel , who insisted that things would work out.

 

Well, things didn’t work out between me and David. I felt devastated. But looking back, I realized that he was sending me a lot of mixed messages. He was a nice guy and he had good intentions when he kept talking to me after breaking things off, but it took a long time for me to stop beating myself up or blaming him over what went wrong.

 

Before I knew it, I graduated college with no clue to my future. I stated on this blog before that I had a toxic friendship that could’ve led me away from God and turned me insane. Angel was that friend. I’m still trying to sort out the emotional trauma I experienced, but if you want more details, I’ve written about this friendship in previous entries. I don’t consider this a relationship so much as a toxic friendship with major emotional manipulation, but Angel considered it a relationship, which is why I’m mentioning it.

 

But there is a blessing that came from all the hurt and pain. I learned something from each relationship. I learned that timing is everything. I learned the importance of having shared values. I learned that you have to let go of something bad for you even when you don’t want to. I learned that in the end, you have to trust God over anything else. And eventually, I learned to fall in love again. But that’s another story.

Four Loves Friday: Storge AKA Affection

To paraphrase a well-known quote, if love was rain, Storge or Affection would be drizzle and Eros would be a hurricane. But what’s so wrong with a drizzle? Drizzles are a manageable kind of rain, the kind of rain that helps the flowers grow instead of flooding cities. In a similar way, affection and familial love are such a part of everyday life, that it’s often overshadowed in the hurricane that is Eros. As I said before, romantic love is not the end-all, be-all of life, nor should it be. Like Eros before it, Affection has a lot of misconceptions. 

Lewis says that Affection is different from the love we have for our pets or to put things in modern day terms, the love a fandom has for a certain show, movie, book, or celebrity. Affection is something that grows over time, can be mixed with the other three forms of love, and produces appreciation for the recipients of said affection. What sets Affection apart from the other three loves is that it can love things that some may not see as loveable. I’ll go into detail on how affection works by combining it with what I wanted to write for True Love Tuesday, but got delayed to to my being ill at the time.

There are examples of Affection seen throughout media, but it’s rarely the central focus of the show. TV shows like Charmed and Gilmore Girls have Affection as the premise and theme, but a lot of plot points in those shows tend to move towards romantic love. So instead, I’ll look into three examples of Affection from some more recent works. BE WARNED! SPOILERS AHEAD!

1st Example: Elsa and Anna’s sisterly bond in Frozen.

Believe me when I say that Frozen deserves all the hype it’s getting and I really hope it wins an Oscar. The central focus of the movie is about Elsa and Anna’s sisterly bond. The two sisters spend the time between the prologue and the first act isolated from each other and they cope in different ways. The entire plot is moved forward by Anna’s desire to be close to her sister again and Elsa’s fear of hurting Anna. Distracted by the expectation that the movie would follow Anna as she falls in love with Hans and the expectation that either Hans or Kristoff would be the one to save Anna via True Love’s Kiss, it comes as a shocking and refreshing surprise that Anna and Elsa end up saving each other in the end. Anna saves Elsa from Hans by throwing herself between them, even though it came at the cost of her entire body becoming frozen due to Elsa accidentally freezing Anna’s heart. However, that selfless act of bravery made Elsa realize how much Anna really meant to her and the mistake she made of isolating and hurting the only person she wanted to protect. 

In true Disney fashion, Anna’s heart thaws Anna herself and Elsa realizes, through Olaf’s words and Anna’s sacrifice, how she can control her powers: her love. In the best example of showing-not-telling, Elsa channels the Affection she has for her sister and her kingdom to end the endless winter she inadvertently caused. 

Other examples of Affection in Frozen can be seen in Olaf’s affection for Anna and Elsa. Before Anna sacrifices herself for her sister, Olaf creates a fire for Anna and tells her that “some people are worth melting for.” He also helps Elsa to see that her ice powers aren’t a curse if she could create life from it. In the end, Olaf is rewarded for his Affection by getting an affectionate gift from Elsa: the ability to enjoy summer with a personal little flurry over his head. 

2nd Example

The True Love that I wanted to write about on Tuesday was the Affection between Henry and his birth mother, Emma as well as with his adopted mother, Regina. In the first season, Henry is what motivates Emma to stay in Storybrooke and what leads the major characters to go to Neverland when Henry gets taken there in the Season 2 finale. Season 3, so far, had Henry at the center of the plot, with Affection being played against Pan’s manipulations. 

And no matter the ship wars in the Once Upon a Time fandom, the one thing fans can agree on is that Emma will always put Henry first before anyone else. Henry was willing to eat the poisoned apple turnover for Emma to prove to her that magic existed. By the time of the Season 3 mid-season “finale,” Emma and Regina have put their differences aside to save their son from Pan and Henry considers both women to be his mother. Lesbian undertones aside, the interactions between Emma and Regina in Season 3 were seriously awesome and there is at least a form of platonic affection developing between the two of them. Whether the affection leads to friendship or a romantic relationship is up to the writers.

3rd Example

In this world of new media, it’s amazing how far YouTube has come from the everday cat videos. Some content creators have taken the risk towards adapting literature into a series of YouTube videos. What started this trend? The Lizzie Bennet DiariesAn Emmy-award series created by Hank Green and Bernie Su, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries took Pride and Prejudice and turned it into a series of video blogs by modern day 24-year-old Lizzie Bennet. Pride and Prejudice is famous for the love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, but what makes this adaptation just as good as the book, if not better, is that it focuses on the relationship between Lizzie Bennet, her sisters (Jane and Lydia), and her best friend, Charlotte. 

The romantic leads of the story (as well as the romantic rival) don’t appear in the videos until certain episodes, so events in the novel that are usually seen through a third-person narrator are often re-enacted with “costume theatre.” The majority of the action in these videos isn’t on the romantic plotlines, but on how Lizzie, Jane, Lydia, and Charlotte feel and react to the things that are happening and the things they decide to do become major plot twists.

The best example of how Affection is more prominent is shown in Episode 15: Lizzie Bennet is in Denial. In this episode, Charlotte and Jane give a different point of view to an event that Lizzie would rather dismiss out of her own negative bias. Their affection for Lizzie doesn’t blind either of them to the fact that Lizzie has a lot of personal prejudices to get over. And eventually, lack of Affection leads to a major important plot point that I won’t spoil here.

So for this Valentine’s Day Weekend, think about the people you feel Affection towards. See how you can show them how much you love them. After all, hurricanes aren’t for everyone.

Four Loves Friday (Late due to Sochi)

Eros is probably the most well known and also the most misunderstood of the Four Loves. For one thing, sexuality and lust aren’t always a part of Eros (think about someone you know that had meaningless sex with somebody). However, C.S. Lewis doesn’t say that Eros (which he defines as romantic love) and sexuality are incompatible. He just wants to make a distinction between Eros and what we call “erotic.”

Lewis says that romantic love begins with a pre-occupation with the Beloved. In other words, the “crush” phase. Going back to my post about Spike and Buffy, this happens when Spike dreamt of Buffy kissing him instead of staking him at the end of the episode “Out of My Mind.” Ideally, sex is not the first thing that comes to mind during this phase. Instead, the person with the crush is more pre-occupied with the person he or she is crushing on. It’s kind of a “Getting To Know You” phase. Lewis describes having what I call a crush as entering “like an invader, taking over.” How many times have we often said that we can’t get that person we’re crushing on out of our head?

Lewis continues to make a distinction between Eros and the erotic by citing George Orwell’s 1984. Two things: 1) Lewis calls the protagonist of 1984 less human than the “four footed heroes” of Animal Farm and 2) Without Eros, the beloved is an object, lusted after as a means to an end; with Eros, the Beloved is cherished as a person. Ideally, the Lover puts the Beloved first. 

So why is romantic love so messed up? According to Lewis, it’s because both Eros and the erotic are taken too seriously. How many times in our lives have we seen stories where getting the guy/girl at the end is seen as the end-all, be-all? How many teenagers feel insecure because of their apparent sexual inexperience and see being a virgin as a crime? While both Eros and the erotic need to be taken seriously, neither one can’t be the end-all, be-all. People shouldn’t constantly worry about not having a relationship or “dying a virgin.” There’s more to life than that. And yet, because of the culture we live in, this distorted version of romantic love has become an idol, a standard that many people try to measure up to.

Part of this problem comes from three views on what the human body is. One view, called asceticism, sees the body as a prison for the soul. The second view, hedonism, worships the body too much. The third view takes inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi who called his body “Brother Ass.” This view is self-depreciating, humble without being humiliating. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves when it comes to acknowledging ourselves as human beings before we approach a romantic relationship. Think about Elizabeth Bennet and William Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Both of them learned to laugh at themselves and the mistakes they made throughout the time that they knew each other. 

When we fall in love, we lose ourselves, but we never feel like we have lost unless the love we have is unrequited. We have to realize what we’re feeling and accept it. Otherwise, we fight a losing battle. And yet there’s also an element of masquerade to romance. We put our best foot forward in hopes of winning the heart of the Beloved. Is this bad? According to Lewis, no. The masquerade highlights the lovers as individuals.

Lewis moves on to quote one of the most controversial Bible verses. You know the one: Ephesians 5:25. Here’s the thing. That verse? It’s not misogynistic. It’s a verse that talks about mutual surrender. Yes, men have to make the first move, but the move he makes is the will to lay down his life for his wife. An ideal marriage, according to Theology of the Body, is a reflection of Christ’s spiritual marriage to the Church, which is seen as His bridegroom.

In the end, Eros’s endgame isn’t happiness. There is a reason “for better and for worse” is written in the marriage vows. Real love is choosing to suffer with your loved one rather than let them suffer alone. Real love is realizing that you make each other’s lives better and willing to make sure that you spend the rest of your days making each other happy. “Better this than parting. Better to be miserable with her than happy without her. Let our hearts break, provided they break together.” 

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? I’m not saying that this advocates staying in an abusive relationship because the heartbreak is one-sided in that scenario. I’m just saying that as long as people learn to stop being self-centered when it comes to romantic love and stop seeing relationships and sex as a be-all, end-all, we might learn to see the people we love for who they are and not just what they mean to us.