Thoughts on ‘Blue Valentine’

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I visited the Enizan Theater to see a movie produced by a good friend of my uncle called “Blue Valentine.” After seeing status updates, links, and posts on my uncle’s Facebook all about the movie, not to mention an Oscar nomination for Michelle Williams in this role, I figured it was worth it to check out this claimed “love story.”

Blue Valentine was written and produced by Derek Cianfrance, who also wrote and produced a movie with my uncle, “Brother Tied” about 13 years ago. Evidently, the idea for this film has been in the making since Brother Tied’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998. We also took notice of the executive producers of this film–Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, themselves.

The movie is told in sort of a flashback sequence, beginning with Gosling and Williams’ lives now and we see frequent flashbacks of their lives when they first met, when they were dating, and when they got married at city hall. Their love and happiness is so apparent in these flashbacks, but when we are moved back to scenes of the present, the relationship is cold, painful, and almost unwilling. They have a child, Frankie, who spends the weekend at her grandparents’ house while her parents try to reconnect in a themed-room motel, theirs being “the future room.” Gosling always has a cigarette in his mouth and is drinking heavily in so many scenes. He says that he drinks at eight in the morning because “he has a job that allows him to drink at eight in the morning.” This takes a toll on his health, looks, and of course, his wife. What appears to be the breaking point for Williams is when he bursts into the hospital where she is working and fights with her behind a glass door. The ending was disappointing and not what I expected, but at the same time, I think that’s what made this movie stand out from the others.

What was the point of the movie? “A love story,” is seen on the advertising portrait and trailer. Sure, it was definitely a love story in its flashback tales of young love and a city hall wedding, but what about the fighting? What about the crumbling apart of the marriage? This is where my boyfriend hit the point dead-on: this is a modern day love story.

As we all know the alarming high statistics of divorces in this nation, this movie depicts the truth. This movie shows the reality of how people can get married young and then realize they married the wrong person. Or the reality of how people aren’t ready to get married sometimes, but do it anyway. And most of all, what stuck with me, was the reality of how many people give up on the lifetime commitment they made to one other: for better OR for worse, until DEATH do we part. Gosling quotes those vows to Williams toward the end and reminds her of that promise she made. But I guess to her and also to so many, that promise is empty and that promise doesn’t hold as much weight anymore as it used to in previous generations.

This movie was well done, powerful, and even hard to watch at some scenes. And this movie displayed the harsh reality of our society today.


Characteristic #8 of a Healthy Relationship

8. There is proactive maintenance.

Let’s start by breaking down the two key words in this characteristic. Proactive maintenance. What do each of these words define?

Proactive as an adjective, by definition, says, “tending to initiate change rather than reacting to events.”¹ I like this definition because it gives the alternative. Instead of saying what it is, it also states what it isn’t. Being proactive is NOT reacting to a situation, it’s doing something to prevent a bad situation from happening.

Maintenance as a noun is defined as, “means of upkeep, support, or subsistence; livelihood.”² This is the one definition that does not use the word “maintain” to define it. (Using the word to define the word is useless and tells me nothing)

If the definitions of “proactive” and “maintenance” are combined, then we can conclude that within a relationship, we need to initiate change by means of upkeep and support instead of waiting for the bad things to happen to initiate where we need to change. All for the livelihood of the relationship. (I feel like I’m writing an algebra equation lecture)

This is difficult because when things are good in any relationship, it’s easy to cruise through life with no “maintenance.” And most people like “easy” in relationships. (In fact, don’t we all?) But what’s “hard,” and what could cause a few ripples, is being proactive about maintaining the dynamics of the relationship.

Examples of proactive maintenance? Communication.

* If you’re a member of 20-something bloggers, feel free to vote for me in the annual Bootleg Awards. I’ve been nominated for “best student life blogger” (or, should be want-to-be-student-life). Voting is here.


¹ PROACTIVE. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. January 20, 2011).

² maintenance. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: January 20, 2011).

The Future of Journalism

Last Saturday, I completed my final portion of my M.S. in Journalism application to Columbia. My test was given to me by an alumni proctor who lives in the area. Afterward, we went to Starbucks where I peppered her with questions…for over two hours. Besides basically pouring out my entire history as a writer and my soul that lies with journalism, we talked about the program at Columbia and journalism itself. She asked me an interesting question in the middle of it all.

Does the future of journalism scare you?

My immediate answer? “Not at all.” I’m sure many people, including professors at Columbia and other notable journalism schools would challenge my answer. And maybe I’m just being naive when I say that the future of journalism does not scare me because I don’t believe journalism will ever die. Here’s why.

People will always, always, always want to be informed about the news. Never will the world stop caring about what’s going on around them and abroad. Never will there ever not be something to report that’s going on somewhere on this planet. And never will shows such as “ABC World News Tonight” or “Good Morning America” cease to exist. They will always be there because there is always something to “cover.”

Even though newspapers are closing down and the internet is become the main source of news, it will still exist, but just not in a hard copy format. People ask me, “why would you want to be a journalist? The internet is becoming the future of journalism.” And really, that is true. People are obtaining their news through the internet, but where do they go to get it? The New York Times… .com. CNN… .com. FoxNews… .com. And what do we find on these websites? Articles. Pictures. Did those articles and pictures produce themselves? No. Someone wrote them. Someone took the pictures. The news content we read on the internet will always, always, always have to be written and produced by someone. Who will produce it? Journalists. And who will these companies want to make those stories appear on their sites? Credible journalists.

I’m not in the paper or publishing business, I’m in the writing business. Again, I frequently get told that newspapers and magazines are on their way out of being produced. I refuse to believe that, because again, people are still obtaining their news from television or the internet. Or more recently, their e-readers or iPads. Perhaps we will no longer be able to hold a newspaper’s hard copy again in our hands, but we will still read them electronically one way or the other. If I was a newspaper printer or a hard-copy publisher, I’d be worried. Yes, that would scare me because I truly believe that soon hard copies will not exist so we won’t need paper publishers.

“Bloggers are becoming the new journalists of today; getting a Master’s in Journalism in a waste of money.” I’ve been reading this on many discussion boards regarding the Columbia writing test. And I don’t believe it. Because here’s the thing: anyone can blog. Whether you write well or you hate writing, whether you take pictures with a $2000 camera, or whether you use you cell phone–anyone can start a blog. Some, such as “Cupcakes and Cashmere” (a personal favorite of mine) and “Healthy Tipping Point” become so successful that these girls are able to make an entire career out of their blogs (and make twice as much a year as I do at my desk job!). But not everyone that has a blog (exhibit a: my blog) makes a career out of it. If we got rid of the New York Times… .com, or CNN… .com, and used only blogs that are written by anyone, we’d be frustrated with our news source. (For instance, Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and therefore, in college, was not a valid source to cite in any papers or projects) The best news sites, channels, and stations want educated, experienced, and CREDIBLE people writing their stories, shooting their video, or taking their pictures. Credibility is huge in journalism. And I am convinced that Columbia’s Master’s in Journalism students will always be highly respected, credible, and educated among the entire world of journalism.

What do you think? Does the future of journalism scare you?

Characteristic #7 of a Healthy Relationship

7. There is self-responsibility with one’s own happiness.

(Furthermore, the characteristic also states, “you don’t blame the other person for your misery.”)

I asked a few people what they thought this characteristic meant to them.

A 31-year-old, single male stated, ‘You cannot rely on the other person to make you happy, because you will never be happy as a result and you will put blame of the relationship’s lack of success on the other person failing to make you happy. The opposite sex can assist in happiness creation, but cannot be the sole reason for it.’

A 22-year-old, married female said, ‘Even though we are meant to be reliant on each other in relationships, we should not be dependent on the other for our source of joy and satisfaction. If a relationship is too clingy, the potential for extreme hurt is greatly increased.’

I think that this one goes hand-in-hand with the previous characteristics described here and here. We cannot expect our personal happiness, satisfaction, or mood to lie in the actions of the other person. This is difficult, though, when the other person may mean so much to us.

I’ll admit, if my boyfriend is upset, it does make me upset. If someone who I care about is upset over something, I tend to take on their feelings and feel upset along with them. This is a good characteristic and also a bad one, I’m finding. I have extreme empathy for people and that often dictates my own happiness as well. It amazes me how people can make a whole profession out of listening to other people’s misery and trying to help them. I’d come home every day feeling so upset for these people! I’m currently trying to learn the balance between feeling sympathetic and empathetic.

I think that this characteristic has a lot to do with another one I have not yet discussed, which I’m quite frankly surprised is not at the top of the list. This characteristic is, “each person must find fulfillment outside of the relationship.” We need to be able to find happiness outside of the happiness we may feel with the other person. It’s okay if my boyfriend plays basketball a few times week instead of seeing me. It’s okay if he takes his annual snowboarding trip with his friends and I don’t go. In fact, I told him on his last trip (which was actually last week), that I encourage him to go, even though I’ll miss him. Keeping the characteristics of a healthy relationship in mind, I said, “it’s actually really healthy for our relationship.”

Easier said than done though, I think. We often want to be with that person all the time. They can start to mean so much to us that we don’t know how we’ll ever make it apart. One person can start to dictate our every thought and action. We can start to credit them when we feel happiness. Of course, the person  continues to exist in our lives because they make us happy, but at the end of the day, we must remember that WE are in control of our happiness. WE make a choice to be happy from day-to-day. No one can control our actions and what we do except for ourselves!

Life of That Silly Cal #1

I just had a great idea for some new, original material I can feature from time to time in this blog. The silly adventures of my ever-popular Jack Russell Terrier, Cal.

Cal is quite the hilarious dog. He makes me laugh multiple times every day. He somehow even manages to make his “grandma” all the way in Washington, D.C., laugh every day too! He loves eating. EVERYTHING. He will eat anything that comes in his path–except for a pepperoncini or Warhead (which he has managed to spit out immediately after tasting). He loves going places with his mommy in the car. He especially likes to go to Starbucks with his mommy, because in the drive-through line, he usually receives a treat, despite his body being a quarter in the car and three quarters through the drive-through window. He loves long walks around Lake Eola, even though the swans are mean to him and hiss when he tries to get close. He loves other dogs, but loves dogs that are bigger than him even more. And he loves, loves, loves cats. This dog is obsessed with cats.

I figured I’d do a feature in this blog whenever something funny happens to Cal, which is quite often. He is a popular dog around town and in the airport when he goes traveling with his mommy. People always comment on his constant energy and his good looks. I also hear a lot of, “Your dog looks like Wishbone!” from children and “That’s the Frasier dog!” from adults. In any case, here is today’s hilarious adventure of that silly Cal.

We woke up this morning and I decided to ask Cal, “Do you want to go to Starbucks?”

Whenever I ask something that begins with, “Do you want…” his ears perk up and he turns his head as if he understands exactly what I’m saying. He immediately started jumping (as he frequently does) and running toward the door. We walked to Starbucks, which is approximately a block and a half from our apartment. As soon as we approached Starbucks, Cal decided it was a good idea to squat and poop in the middle of the walkway. I chained him up to a bicycle rack and ran into Starbucks to get a few napkins to clean it up. Once I threw it all away outside, three men who were sitting outside said, “Don’t worry, the worst thing that’s going to happen today just happened!”

I laughed and said, “Let’s hope so!”

I went inside and ordered my drink and returned to a still-alive-Cal-pulling-and-jumping chained to the bike rack. The men then told me, “I don’t think he likes Starbucks; he just peed on the sign when you walked inside!”

I shook my head and unhooked him from the rack and said, “Let’s go, Cal.”

Of course he pulled toward the men who were commenting on him and they were petting him as he sniffed the ground for any fallen crumbs or spilled coffee. “Oh my gosh, how old is he?!” one of them said.

“I don’t know, I adopted him. Probably about six or eight,” I said. This is a common question I get from people. A lot of people think he’s a puppy because of his constant jumping and young looking face. My response? He is a very active dog.

“But he looks so young!” They commented back. “What’s his name?”

“Cal,” I said. Usually people look at me inquisitively and say some variation of, “Cow?” or “Pal?” or “Hal?” So I’ve started responding immediately, giving them no time to ask me the cow questions, “Like California!” Which is what I said today.

The three men sat there and said nothing. Awkward silence from all of them, followed by a burst of laughter. “That’s my name!” one of them shouted. Oh my.

“That’s so funny!” I said, trying to pull Cal away from getting tangled in the table and chairs.

“Can I take a picture of him?!” he asked, as he pulled out his phone.

“Of course!” I said, trying to get Cal to sit still for the picture.

And so, he showed me the picture he took of Cal, and his bandanna that hangs around his collar was showing with the letters, “CAL” sown in the middle.

Oh, Cal.