Be My Valentine: A Letter to My Younger Self

Strange and Unintentionally Funny Vintage Valentine's Day Cards  (1)February 14th lingers just around the corner, but for the first time in five years, I will be single on Valentine’s Day. For some, the thought of not being in a relationship at this time of the year can be downright depressing — and for a long time, this held true for me as well. After all, for melodramatic teenage Val, every year that a boy didn’t send a carnation to me in English class practically felt like a year wasted! It’s interesting to see how much our perspectives can change over the years. This post is a love letter to myself and to everyone else out there who is still searching. 🙂

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Dear Younger Me,

I know that not having a boyfriend feels like the end of the world, especially at this time of the year. I also know that you won’t believe me when I tell you it’s not. You have a lot of exciting opportunities in your life already (and I wish I could tell you about all the adventures you are going to embark on in the not-so-distant future!), but you still base a large chunk of your self-worth on your relationship status. For that, I’m truly sorry.

Because of that, you aren’t particularly picky right now. In fact, you would likely allow someone to treat you poorly 80% of the time if you had their love and positive attention for 20% of the time. I know that sounds harsh, but over the next few years, you will ignore a lot of red flags and accept some pretty harmful behavior in order to avoid being alone. You will receive flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day, but the person who gave them to you won’t necessarily be that best friend and support system you need and deserve.

By getting into a relationship mainly for the sake of being in a relationship, you stop trusting your inner voice and start accepting things that you should know in your heart are not okay. By muddling through something that doesn’t make you happy, you end up breaking your own heart and putting a strain on other close relationships in your life.

I wish I could shield you from some of the bad decisions I know you’ll make over the next few years, but I truly believe that what you’ll learn from them will only make you stronger and more resilient. Still, that knowledge doesn’t make a toxic relationship any less toxic, and knowing what I know now doesn’t mean I can just turn back time.

I’m writing to you at 25 now, and (spoiler alert!) we’re single again. Valentine’s Day is in just four days, and the beautiful flowers in my kitchen are not from a secret admirer; they were just a gift I bought myself a few days ago. I wouldn’t mind being in a relationship again, but now that I have a clearer picture of what I want, I’m not willing to settle for less than I deserve. I’m not spending Valentine’s Day alone — I’m spending the long weekend with loved ones, and I couldn’t be more excited. I do things because I want to do them, not to earn someone else’s approval. I spend more time creating fun memories with old friends and cultivating relationships with new ones.

I am technically alone on Valentine’s Day, but I’m not lonely. I know in my heart that another relationship will come along in the future, and in my quest for true happiness, that relationship is just one part of the equation. Besides, who knows what our future self will be writing to us in a few years? 🙂

For now, please be kind to yourself and remember that no situation is permanent. Enjoy your single time, learn from the rocky relationships, and appreciate the good times. Don’t let your friendships fall to the wayside. Remember that you deserve a lot better than you often allow yourself, and never allow fear to strand you in a harmful situation with no way out.

All my love,

Valerie

Link Love Wednesday: Pineapple Edition

GarlandI don’t know about you, but this Wednesday really felt like a Wednesday. Did anyone else feel the drag of Hump Day today? Life has been rather busy lately — mostly good things — and despite my sleep deprivation and sudden aversion to exercise, I’m looking forward to the opportunities to come. What have you been up to in the last week?

Wind down from a long week with this week’s fabulous link love, and as always, share your own favorite recent finds in the comments section below!

Things I’m Loving Lately

  • The show Quantico on ABC. It’s addictive! Who else is watching?
  • Devonta Freeman, running back for the Atlanta Falcons. I picked him up on a waiver for Fantasy Football and played him for the first time last week. He surpassed 30 Fantasy points that week and I was not disappointed!
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. It’s a great take on dating patterns in today’s generation and incredibly eye opening.
  • This incredibly cool tank top I bought for Halloween. I’ve been secretly living in this shirt. (Shhhh.)
  • Colbie Caillat’s cover of The Script’s song, Breakeven. I think I like it better than the original!
  • Scream Queens on FOX. It’s the perfect dark comedy and filled with familiar faces.

What are you loving this week? Share in the comments section below!

Love Lessons from the Movies

e9431ded-5a77-4fec-8942-d8f5b0a500dbRegular readers of my blog will know that I love to write about romantic comedies. From the gender stereotypes they perpetuate to the misconceptions they give us about love to the modern-day endings to classic rom coms, I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of watching, swooning over and criticizing these films. 🙂

Of course, the romantic comedies we watch can actually teach us a lot about love and relationships! Below are some of the lessons I’ve taken away from these films, which will hopefully enhance your love life and bring you the happiness you seek!

  • High school is a drag, especially when it comes to dating, but if you change everything about your appearance and personality, you will finally find true love. – Grease (1978)
  • Living under the sea is a drag, especially when your only friend is a flounder, but if you sell your soul to a sea witch in order to change your appearance, you will finally find true love. – The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Don’t fall in love with a womanizing slacker. Instead, fall in love with his workaholic brother who tried to ship you out of the country so he could complete a business deal. – Sabrina (1954)
  • When you love someone, the best way to show that love is by yelling at the other person. – Katherine Heigl movies
  • Women are most charming when singing among nature or not talking at all. – Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • If you really want to be with someone who is otherwise engaged, you should wait to reveal your feelings until that person’s wedding day. – Various films
  • If you begin a friends-with-benefits relationship with someone, you will ultimately fall in love and end up together. – Friends With Benefits (2011), No Strings Attached (2011), various other films
  • If you’re otherwise sweet and easy to relate to, then it’s okay to steal your best friend’s fiancé. – Something Borrowed (2011)
  • It’s not an inappropriate age gap if the older person in the relationship is undead and still looks like a teenager. – Twilight (2008)

Readers, what are some of the lessons you’ve taken away from the movies you’ve watched? Sound off in the comments section below!

Best Cinematic Love Quotes

Two years ago, I shared a list of some of my favorite literary love quotes of all time. The list appealed to bibliophiles of all kinds, and remains one of my most popular blogs to date! This year, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to bring my movie-loving readers five of my favorite cinematic love quotes. I’m a bit of a romantic comedy junkie, so this may get interesting! 🙂

Enjoy the list, and please feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below!

bestcinematiclovequotes
1. “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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2. “It’s gotta be that can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of thing.” – It Takes Two (1995)

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3. “If I hadn’t been Fox Books and you hadn’t been The Shop Around the Corner, and you and I had just, well, met… I would have asked for your number and I wouldn’t have been able to wait 24 hours before calling you and saying, ‘Hey, how about… oh, how about some coffee, or, you know, drinks or dinner or a movie… for as long as we both shall live?'” – You’ve Got Mail (1998)

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4. “You had me at hello.” – Jerry Maguire (1996)

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5. “The best kind of love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.” – The Notebook (2004)

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Well, friends, what are some of your favorites?

Link Love Wednesday: Valentine’s Day Edition

someday-valentines-day-ecard-someecards_thumb[3]Well, lovebirds, it looks like Valentine’s Day is almost here! Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed a lot of dating/relationship/Valentine’s Day articles across the Internet. This week’s Link Love is no different.

In honor of the upcoming secretly-created-by-Hallmark holiday, enjoy some fun Valentine’s Day articles!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Your Breakup Kit: 10 Songs to Ease the Pain

I will surviveAlthough Valentine’s Day is in a couple of days, some couples are not basking in the rays of relationship bliss. For those currently in the middle of breakups, mid-February is an especially difficult time to process your feelings, as the entire country glamorizes the idea of proving your worth to society based on whether anyone was willing to hold your hand in public on that day. So to help you all out, I’m bringing in a few song favorites and links – some sad, some upbeat – that could help cheer you up.

And yes, most of these are very mainstream songs. Enjoy!

Sad Songs for Wallowing in Self-Pity

Sometimes it’s your party and you can cry if you want to. This list is for the people who just don’t want to get out of bed, the heartbroken ones who keep replaying “what if?” scenarios in their minds, the people who need to let themselves feel the heartbreak a little bit longer.

1. Almost Lover – A Fine Frenzy (song).
The lyrics “You sang me Spanish lullabies, the sweetest sadness in your eyes,” always stick in my head when I hear this song! The artist sings goodbye to a significant other that almost was.

2. California King Bed – Rihanna (song).
I’m not the biggest Rihanna fan, but I wish this song had gotten more airtime when it first came out. This super sad song is all about a relationship at its end, being torn apart by emotional distance.

3. The Reason Why – Rachael Yamagata (song).
This song is not really about a romantic breakup, but more about the artist’s breakup with her band and journey into working a solo act. Beautiful piano accompaniment with lyrics that you can totally apply to your own heartbreak.

4. Set Fire to the Rain – Adele (song).
To be fair, every song by Adele is a breakup song. Set Fire to the Rain in particular always resonated with me as one of the sadder ones – although I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from her soon!

5. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley (song).
This is my favorite cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and I think it has such a profound sadness to it. After all, Shrek and Fiona listened to it when they parted ways in the first Shrek movie, didn’t they? If it’s good enough for Shrek, it’s good enough for any of us.

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Empowering Songs for Your Inner Warrior

Sometimes, we don’t want to host our own pity parties — instead, we want to move past the heartbreak and feel the freedom of a bad relationship shed. These songs reflect the strength we might embody when we overcome a difficult situation.

1. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor (song).
How can you not love this song and immediately start dancing when it comes on? I Will Survive is the pre-Single Ladies anthem for single ladies everywhere.

2. Picture to Burn – Taylor Swift (song).
Make as many jokes about Taylor Swift’s relationship status as you’d like, but this song – with its original country charm that many of her newer songs lack – easily gives We Are Never Getting Back Together a run for its money. Spiteful, yes, but totally fun to listen to!

3. I Look So Good – Jessie James (song).
In this song, the artist sings about all of the good things the breakup has done for her – including a boost of confidence! Definitely gives the breakup a more positive spin.

4. Miss Me – Andy Grammer (song).
I’ll admit that this one is a little sadder than the others, but the song does lean toward the sentiment that your significant other will miss you when you’re gone. For the still-sad-but-leaning-toward-empowered ones, this song provides hope of a happier tomorrow.

5. Happily Never After – Pussycat Dolls (song).
This song is all about leaving an unhealthy relationship for good and knowing what you deserve – a very uplifting way to start anew.

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What are your favorite breakup songs? What songs have helped you get through some of your toughest moments?

The Weekend Five: Things That Pop Culture Taught Me to Expect About Falling in Love

25.1T073.mindyc--300x300As Valentine’s Day looms dangerously close by, we begin to think more and more about love and relationships based on our current frames of reference. Even if you have a significant other, you might still be a sucker for  cheesy romantic comedies, and this could potentially affect your own beliefs about what “love” really looks like. In my own life, pop culture has played its role in shaping my expectations, for better or for worse.

In honor of Singles Awareness Day/Valentine’s Day (depending, of course, on your relationship status and/or feelings about Hallmark), I would like to present the five things that pop culture taught me to expect in the world of relationships.

The Weekend Five: Things That Pop Culture Taught Me to Expect About Falling in Love

1. Every social encounter is a potential meet-cute.
It doesn’t matter where you are or why you’re there; any time you meet someone of the desired gender, you have the chance to find real love. This allows you to turn an awkward situation, such as running into each other and dropping all of your belongings on the ground, into something more meaningful. If your eyes meet for more than a few seconds as you laugh and help each other to pick up your things, it’s a sign of good things to come — and if your hands brush against theirs, it’s obvious that you’re soulmates. You can apply similar logic to other situations as well: meeting someone at a bar, admiring the same painting in an art gallery, reaching for the same book in a library. It doesn’t matter if the other person doesn’t see all of this as reason to exchange numbers or break up with their current significant other; as long as you keep your mind open, any moment can become a meet-cute.

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2. The one who has been around the longest is the one you’ll end up with.“I’ve been right here in front of you the entire time!” the romantic female lead exclaims as she plants herself in her male best friend’s doorway. “I was here all along!” This rule can go two ways: either you will end up with your best friend, or you will end up with the person whom you met in the very first episode (a la Carrie/Mr. Big) of Your Love Life. Either way, longevity will trump all else in the game of love.

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bachelorette_ver23. If all else fails, you can broadcast your search for love to the entire world.
By becoming the next Bachelor or Bachelorette on ABC, you will not only have countless attractive dental assistants and entrepreneurs of ambiguous backgrounds vying for your attention, but you will also have access to an unlimited wardrobe of evening wear. Falling in love on television is totally genuine and foolproof; even if you don’t end up married later down the road, you are at least contractually obligated to get an engagement out of it, and your entire courtship will be littered with poorly disguised metaphors. Who wouldn’t want that?

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4. Your relationship will have its own montage.
Every memorable moment that has led up to your declaration of love will flash before your eyes. This montage will be relatively short – no more than three minutes – but will highlight your relationship’s “Best Of” moments. This also happens when you aren’t in a relationship but considering confessing your feelings for someone with whom you’ve developed a close friendship. This montage is a mental one, so don’t be creepy and put anything together in iMovie.

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5. Your relationship will be scored by a mix of 1980s love songs and modern indie music.
I always imagined that The Glory of Love by Peter Cetera would start playing the moment I realized I’d found “The One” (okay, maybe not always, but at least since I watched last season of The Bachelorette). The truth is, if pop culture has taught us anything, it’s that our relationships will take up entire soundtracks – and bands like Foreigner, Death Cab for Cutie and Sparklehorse will be the main attractions. Our relationships will consist of sweet if not slightly poppy melodies, smarmy songs that came out the year before we were born and a few songs by obscure bands we’ve never heard of. Get your iTunes ready.

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What are some of the things that pop culture has taught you to expect about falling in love?

The Weekend Five: Steps For Writing The Summary of a Romance Novel

smcoverLike many other young women my age, I’m not immune to the charms of a guilty beach read every so often. I may like to poke fun at romance novels, but I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey or any of its sequels. (Of course, I do like to pair these types of books with classical literature just for some healthy balance.) When my mom and I visit bookstores, we often go straight to the romance section to read and laugh at the books’ summaries, and over the years, we have picked up on a few key patterns in each of these books. Take a look at the list and see if there are any that you’ve noticed as well!

The Weekend Five: Steps For Writing The Summary of a Romance Novel

1. Give your characters bizarre, complicated or slightly exotic names.
Where is the fun in reading a story about someone named Mary Smith? In the novel I Was A Vampire Wedding Planner, some of the appropriate character names include Renaldi D’Aria, Katya Stern, Rex Fontainebleu, and Eden Lockhart. You can also create characters with interesting family titles, such as Adam Faramond, Earl of Rothbury, who is referred to by literally every combination of names. Make sure you include at least three of these character names in your summary so that the reader is aware of how serious this romance novel really is.

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2. Use phrases like “unbridled passion that matches his own.”
The more you allude to the fact that the book is teeming with sexual tension, the better. In fact, four out of five housewives in America recommend these books for exactly that reason. Why not take advantage of that in the book’s summary?

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9780425230220_p0_v1_s260x4203. Create a convoluted love story.
Love is never easy. In romance novels, nobody meets at the grocery store and has a regular courtship. The summary should discuss unwanted suitors, a male and female lead who seemingly hate each other, crazy inheritances, the requests of older relatives and more. Try to throw in as many subplots as possible as an added bonus.

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4. Be descriptive. Very descriptive.
This one is self-explanatory. Who says that you should save all the details for the book itself? Include them in the summary first so the reader knows exactly what he or she is dealing with!

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5. Setting is everything.
And in the world of romance novels, there are really only three major settings: Victorian era, the Wild Wild West and supernatural worlds (or our world, but with supernatural characters). You could also consider using a combination of the three to include vampires running around Victorian London with cowboys, but this may confuse your reader, who is usually only accustomed to one of these three.

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What are some of your favorites?

The Friday Five: Best Literary Love Quotes

If you couldn’t tell from last week’s posts (here and here), Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Although I’m not enamored with the idea of taking just one day to let someone know how you feel about them, I can’t help but smile when I see all the beautifully-wrapped chocolates in the stores and begin hearing more smarmy love songs on the radio. In honor of a holiday that may or may not be Hallmark’s excuse to instill feelings of love/happiness/loneliness/inadequacy in us that we didn’t know we had, I would like to present some of my favorite love quotes from books and literature. (No, you will not find anything from the Twilight saga here.) Feel free to recite some of these to your significant other if you want to seem worldly/nerdy!

The Friday Five: Best Literary Love Quotes

1. “I will love you as we grow older, which has just happened, and has happened again, and happened several days ago, continuously, and then several years before that, and will continue to happen as the spinning hands of every clock and the flipping pages of every calendar mark the passage of time, except for the clocks that people have forgotten to wind and the calendars that people have forgotten to place in a highly visible area.” – Lemony Snicket, The Beatrice Letters

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2. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” – Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

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3. “I cannot fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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4. “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.” – Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII

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5. “No one actually needs another person or another person’s love to survive. Love is when we have irrationally convinced ourselves that we do.” – Gabrielle Zevin, Elsewhere

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And here’s a bonus that will forever be my all-time favorite.

“I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter – “
“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”
“For him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto Patronum!”
From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe. She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.
— Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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What are some of your favorites?

According To The Movies, True Love Is…

In keeping with our romantic comedy theme from yesterday’s post, I thought it would be entertaining to poke fun at some more of the film and television relationships we love. Before I continue, I have to admit that a few of these come from some of my favorite movies, but I love being able laugh about them all. Without further adieu:

According to the movies, true love is…

  • Vowing to turn the nerdy girl into a beautiful prom queen until you give her contact lenses and a haircut and then realize she was beautiful all along. (She’s All That)
  • Finding the one who will rescue your cat in the rain after you let it out of the car during a tantrum. (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
  • Lying about your age to your English teacher and making him think the girl he’s falling for is a high school senior when you’re actually 25 years old. (Never Been Kissed)
  • Trading your girlfriend for a hotel, sleeping with her arch-nemesis, and then asking her to prove her love for you atop the Empire State Building. (Gossip Girl)
  • Losing your ability to speak and then realizing that you can still win the prince’s heart with your looks. (The Little Mermaid)
  • Getting engaged to your employee to avoid getting deported to Canada and then marrying him anyway because you bonded with his crazy grandmother.  (The Proposal)
  • Knowing that your sometimes-enemy and business rival is also your anonymous email pen pal, but still asking her to meet you for a date in the park. (You’ve Got Mail)
  • Getting on a boat to Paris with the guy who tried to ship you off there in the first place. (Sabrina)
  • Inviting at least 20 young women (mainly account coordinators, dental assistants and aspiring models) to compete for your affections on TV over the course of several weeks and enjoying romantic moments with each before deciding that your “real feelings” are for the girl that audiences hate the most. (The Bachelor)

What has the media taught you about “true love?”