Posts in Relationships
5 Movies That Changed Me.

It's been a REALLY long time since I made a list article or "listicle".  Movies seem like a good topic and I thought it was about time (no pun intended from my first film choice) that I put an article like this one out.  It seems to me that some movies just present themselves at times in life when you need them most. Other times, they show up and enter your psyche in a way you hadn't planned and at times, weren't mentally prepared for.  

Today, I'd like to talk about five movies that I've watched as an adult that changed me. These particular cinematic trips affected me in a way that no other stories on screen have at very particular times in my life. I'm excluding documentaries from this list because I want to focus on fiction. Let's dive in.   

1. About Time

 Photo courtesy of  Sami Naik

Photo courtesy of Sami Naik

I saw About Time for free through a company that hypes upcoming movies and allows you to see them earlier than most, though the seating is never ideal. It's a beautiful film about love and loss, but not in a way that most romantic comedies tread. If you haven't seen the film, you may want to skip to my second movie pick, as I'm about to talk about one of the plot reveals.

About Time is about a family where all the men can secretly travel in time and how a young man deals with the knowledge of this and how he uses that gift. It may sound cheesy, but the film is done in a fantastic way. Because this revolves around his father telling him about this "power", the father-son relationship unfolds before us in a really wonderful way. I instantly connected to the characters as I love my own father very much and we're close as well.

Later in the film, the protagonist finds that his father has terminal cancer. Rules around the movie's time travel are explained in a way that makes it so neither of them can change this grim outcome. This movie forced me to confront my own father's mortality and how I might deal with it when that frightful day arrives. I'm not ashamed to admit that I found myself crying a few times in this film. It all just felt so real.

I found myself connecting to it in other ways too, like the way the main character's relationship evolves throughout the film. Besides the prospect of having children, everything else is very much like my current relationship. One of my favorite quotes from the film is a saying I lived by when I was single and it certainly applied to Tiff, my fiancee, when I met her and our relationship matured. 

I’d only give one piece of advice to anyone marrying. We’re all quite similar in the end. We all get old and tell the same tales too many times. But try and marry someone kind [...]
— Bill Nighy character

I actually wrote about About Time (I apologize for the word-play redundancy) a while back, which is why I put this movie first on the list. I could reiterate and expand its meaning to me and move forward. You can read that HERE if you're interested.

2. Albatross

 Photo courtesy of the  New York Times

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

If you google "Albatross film" you'll probably get a documentary about birds, however the movie I'm referring to is a British coming-of-age tale from 2011. Here's a brief synopsis of the film from Wikipedia:

The rebellious teenage dropout, Emelia Conan Doyle, believes herself to be a descendant of Arthur Conan Doyle. She takes on a job as a cleaner in a seaside hotel owned by Jonathan Fischer. Jonathan is a writer from Germany who has struggled with writer’s block since his successful first novel, The Cliff House, was published 21 years before. He lives in the hotel with his wife Joa and two daughters, Beth, 17, and Posy, 6. Jonathan is constantly sequestered in the attic working on his writing, leaving the hotel to be run by Joa. Their marriage is stormy as Joa is unhappy about Jonathan’s lack of success in his profession and his disconnected parenting. Meanwhile, Emelia has lived with her grandparents since her mother committed suicide.
— Wikipedia

The film's main character, Emelia, finds herself seduced by Jonathon and an affair occurs. The affair isn't what I connected to however, but rather the act of Emelia being young and not knowing where she fit in, like me. At the time, I watched this film on a laptop sitting on my bare legs atop a mattress surrounded by boxes. A week or less from then, I was to move out for the first time and was filled with depression and excitement.

I was in a very strange head space at the time. This movie added to that sensitivity, but also made me feel like maybe I could make it as a writer after all. Or maybe I merely could make it in life. I'm not sure what I meant by "making it" then and I probably still don't. Either way, the movie caused me to embrace some inner stuff I'm not sure I was ready to confront. It's quite hard to describe, but I'll never forget Albatross and the scene/feelings I attach to it in my memories of the film.

3. The Fountain

 Photo courtesy of The Fountain's trailer on YouTube

Photo courtesy of The Fountain's trailer on YouTube

The Fountain was my introduction to the films director, Darren Aronofski, or at least it was the first movie that led me to his work in a focused way. The Fountain is quite honestly an exhausting film, emotionally and physically. For this reason I've only seen it twice, which is mournful since this movie probably deserves 5+ watch-throughs to really wrap my head around the entire plot and its intricacies.

The film focuses around two main characters played by Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman, in three different timelines. (Before you ask, yes, the movie is long, but worth it.) 

Three stories - one each from the past, present, and future - about men in pursuit of eternity with their love. A conquistador in Mayan country searches for the tree of life to free his captive queen; a medical researcher, working with various trees, looks for a cure that will save his dying wife; a space traveler, traveling with an aged tree encapsulated within a bubble, moves toward a dying star that’s wrapped in a nebula; he seeks eternity with his love. The stories intersect and parallel; the quests fail and succeed.
— IMDB

The Fountain was recommended to me by an old co-worker as, "a movie you watch and then go sit outside and stare into the sky, not knowing what to say or think." I think that perfectly encapsulates the film for me and my feeling toward it. This was another film I watched shortly before I moved out of my parents house and a film that made me confront love and loss, not toward my father, this time but in a future love interest.

It's long been my fear that I would meet someone and fall madly in love only to find myself or my significant other entangled in a terminal disease at a younger-than-old age. As you may know from previous posts, I now have that "significant other", so I'm not sure I ever want to revisit The Fountain any time soon, in the attempt to dodge my own worries and anxiety.

This movie isn't all doom and gloom in my memories though. I think about this movie from time to time and appreciate the health, however temporary that may be, my fiancee and I share. It's sad to come to the realization that someone close to you will pass one day, but hopefully her and I won't have to experience that anytime soon. Plus, I somewhat lived it out literary-wise a few months ago in a novella I wrote and am currently attempting to publish. Though the characters are completely fictitious in my book, they bear a resemblance to how I feel about Tiff, my significant other.

All these years, all these memories, there was you. You pull me through time.
— Hugh Jackman

4. HER

 Photo courtesy of  Roger Ebert

Photo courtesy of Roger Ebert

Even in the best state of mind, this movie can really make you feel peculiar. I watched it during one of my most depressing junctures in life which proved to be a poor decision. I had seen it years before this and remembered bits and pieces, but it wasn't until my second viewing that everything hit home. Mid-movie I walked outside, fell flat on the grass in the middle of a park, and lost touch with reality for a small amount of time, (no drugs or alcohol needed).

This movie is set in a not-so-distant future, but deals with city landscapes and technology we don't yet have. This film is great at making you feel isolated with the character even though he has friends and lives in a large, active city. He's a poet of sorts and besides the extreme introverted-ness, him and I had a lot in common (a couple years ago). I found a connection.

A sensitive and soulful man earns a living by writing personal letters for other people. Left heartbroken after his marriage ends, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes fascinated with a new operating system which reportedly develops into an intuitive and unique entity in its own right. He starts the program and meets “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), whose bright voice reveals a sensitive, playful personality. Though “friends” initially, the relationship soon deepens into love.
— Google

Joaquin Phoenix plays this main character and I really can't imagine anyone better for it. The melancholy and sadness he brings to this role are perfect; almost too perfect. It should be obvious to note that I don't relate to him because I, too, fell in love with an operating system, but because of his situation in life and how life just seems to drag along for a bit while you allow depression to live within you.

The ending, which I won't spoil, is incredibly beautiful cinematography. I can imagine it as I write this like I'm watching it on a screen in 4K. Maybe, at the time, I did need this movie in my life?

You know what, I can over think everything and find a million ways to doubt myself. And since Charles left I’ve been really thinking about that part of myself and, I’ve just come to realize that, we’re only here briefly. And while I’m here, I wanna allow myself joy. So fuck it.
— Amy Adams

5. Perks of Being a Wallflower

 Photo courtesy of  Sky

Photo courtesy of Sky

I watched this film during my depression as well which makes so much sense as to why I connected to it. I think there's something romantic about being a wallflower in real life. The act of being misunderstood and then being found out by someone is a beautiful thing. It's carrying a secret that only a select group of people or less get to see; the secret being: who you really are.

It doesn't feel beautiful or wonderful being an outcast, but those small moments when you can escape the anxiety and be the real you in front of others - those moments are worth it all. The main character in this film is discovered as being this creative human being and through that exposure, other repressed secrets reveal themselves, good and bad.

To me, it was a movie that teaches you that no matter how bad life gets, it'll get better. Then worse. Then better. Then worse. Then better again. Life ebbs and flows to a random beat we can't control, so I learned to let go. My approach to difficult situations has now changed from the nagging sting of anxiety to, "I'll figure it out. Life will always go on." It also taught me to appreciate the hell out of each moment in life. I now take time when I'm on an adventure or when I'm just really happy and I just soak it in; these are blips in time that I'll never get back again. One day when I'm old, I believe these moments will be all that ever really mattered on my journey through life.

 Photo courtesy of  We Heart It

Photo courtesy of We Heart It

How I Proposed to My Girlfriend in Sequoia National Park
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
— J.M.

Today's post is probably the most important one I've written so far, and certainly the most meaningful. That's because this particular article is about how I proposed to my (now) fiancee. I've gotten the question numerous times in the past week, "How did you propose?" Since I generally write articles on our trips anyway, now I can cover two things in one fell swoop.

My girlfriend and I decided a few months ago to save up and go on a trip to San Fran after I offered her three different destinations to travel to for her birthday. That was in March, but this would be for June as a celebration of the school year being over, (she's a teacher and this would act as a future gift). 

 March 8th, 2018 on Tiff's birthday

March 8th, 2018 on Tiff's birthday

A little backstory on how we met, before I get to the proposal.

Tiff and I originally met through the app Bumble in 2016, but we lost touch. Although we hit it off immediately via in-app messaging, we both had a lot to deal with in our personal lives at the time. We didn't talk again until late April of 2017.

On April 27th, Tiff and I met at a local, Dallas dive bar called Milo Butterfingers for our first date. Milo's was a popular hang out for me and my co-workers and has excellent bartenders. It sat in between my work and her apartment, (GPS-wise). Little did we know, that night would change our lives forever. We talked for hours.

We've been inseparable ever since.

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All of our interests from the past, present, and future, seem to align. Our relationship seems too good to be true and yet, here we are. Our embarrassing love for Nu Metal; our late night talks involving science and psychology; politics; our love for toys, Poke'mon, and cartoons;  our similar collecting preferences; our common love languages...I could go on forever. She's perfect.

Over the next year, we traveled to Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Robber's Cave in Oklahoma, Austin and Laredo in Texas, Denver and the Rockies, and more recently: Sequoia National Park and San Francisco in California. That brings me to the point of this article:

How I Proposed in Sequoia National Park

Tiff and I woke up around 5am and met my parents outside of our apartment. We were then dropped off at the airport and flew 3+ hours to San Fran on Alaskan Air. (I LOVE Alaskan Air.)

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We road the tram to the rent-a-car area, threw our stuff in, and drove 4 hours to Three Rivers, California. We were moving along non-stop. I was determined to propose that day in Sequoia.

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We arrived at our motel around 3pm-ish, California time. The motel was super cool and made me feel like I was at someone's grandma's house. There was some random nature-y art, a tiny library setup, and an amazing view as you can see in the photo above. Our room however was very strange, but you can't tell from the photo below. It was a mix between being rustic and a jail cell. We dug it.

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We got ready for our hike and then proceeded up the road to see the Giant Forest on top of the mountain. The drive was about an hour with winding roads and breathtaking views.

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 I'm up there somewhere...

I'm up there somewhere...

After a few sight-seeing stops, we made it through the entrance to the Giant Forest. It was absolutely stunning. It's difficult to explain how large Sequoias are without experiencing them in person. The one below was one of the smaller ones we saw when we first drove in.

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Once we found parking, I could feel my hands getting sweaty. It's a weird thing: I knew I loved this person (Tiff) with all of my heart and I was pretty sure she would say yes, but I was still incredibly nervous.

We began walking down the trail. 

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My original goal was to propose in front of the General Sherman tree; the largest tree in the world. When we got to it though, there was a hoard of tourists. We continued down the trail to a more secluded area with other giant Sequoias.

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Suddenly, there it was - the perfect spot.

It had a fallen tree trunk for me to set my camera and small tripod on. It was also secluded from the crowds, featuring our very own Sequoia monster as the background. I hid behind the tree for a moment, grabbing the ring box to hide in my jacket. Tiff gave me a strange look, but didn't say anything about my odd behaviour.

My first attempt failed as a family walked around the corner of the trail. I wanted the moment to be just her and me, (then later we could share with everyone else, once we were ready. In my opinion, proposing in public in front of crowds seem manipulative and wrong. Back to the story: I told her the angle was off and we needed to try again.

I reset the camera onto video mode once again and we moved back into position. This time, no one was around except her and me. My heart was beating so fast. As she placed her hand onto my chest, she knew something was up. It was now or never.

I blurted out that I was "scared", when really I meant to say I'm "nervous". This seemed more appropriate a word since I've never been more sure of something in my life. The words I spoke after are between her and I of course.

I bent down on one knee and through teary eyes, I asked her. 

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She said, "yes", which is great because if she hadn't this article would be pretty awkward right about now.

 My beautiful fiancee shortly after

My beautiful fiancee shortly after

The rest of the trip was so much fun. It felt amazing to know that the girl by my side was going to be there forever. The moment turned out perfect. Luckily, we were able to hug and talk for awhile without anyone ever coming down the trail and into the PROPOSAL ZONE. (I said that in my mind like a wrestler.)

After the proposal, we continued walking down the trail. Below, you'll find some of my favorite photos from the rest of the day and the following day, where we visited Moro Rock within Sequoia National Park. Thanks for reading and I hope I didn't get too sappy, but I had to share the best moment of my life with everyone!

Why Do Adults Call Their Significant Other "Baby"?

I was sitting and thinking, as I normally do, (well maybe not the latter part of that statement) and the thought struck me: "Why do we use pet names?" More specifically, why do we use the word "baby" when the meaning of that generally refers to an infant? 

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That pet name mixed with the image above seems incredibly creepy, right? Baby has had a long history in art culture though. It turns out the word was introduced as a romantic term in a novel as early as 1694.

[...]not able to support the thought that any thing should afflict his lovely Baby.
— Aphra Behn, "Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister"

Some may immediately think "Wow, the English language is weird", but this shows up in Chinese as baobei and in French as bébé, among other languages. This means that it isn't contained in any one culture. When this happens, we generally look at wide spread evolution and psychology for an explanation.

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The reason we call our lovers baby is thought to stem from the fact that we use the same neuron pathways of affection for our children as we do those that we are romantically involved with. Somewhat disturbingly, if these path ways are too entangled, it's believed that it can lead to pedophilia. We won't get into that though.

Generally, most relationship counselors see pet names as a good thing as they tend to facilitate a privatized world for you and your partner. These same relationship experts postulate that this is a trend commonly used with happier couples. It's also important, and somewhat obvious, to note that baby isn't the only typically used pet name. When considering why we might say baby, Sweetie and Sweetheart may be a less-creepy alternative. 

 Just make sure they don't see the nickname as demeaning or annoying.

Just make sure they don't see the nickname as demeaning or annoying.

In my opinion, I don't really care where a word like baby came from, as long as you know why you're using it and contextually it fits the relationship you're in. Having said that, it is interesting to know why we use it at all. (Some of us over use it.)

Personally, I prefer boo because it's cute, ironic, and reminds me of ghosts and ghosts are cute AF. I know a lot of people think it's cheesy or dumb, but I will continue to use it with my girlfriend. If you don't approve then:

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10 Questions to Ask on a First Date.
 Photo Courtesy of Man Seeking Woman

Photo Courtesy of Man Seeking Woman

First impressions are a must in the dating world. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do though, because a fraction of first dates are going to naturally suck. After all, not everyone is compatible. Actually, most people aren't. With this in mind, it cant hurt to sway things in your favor however which is why I thought up 10 questions for you single dudes and dudettes to ask on your next date.

5 Things I Do Way More of Now That I'm Single.

My 20's have been spent in and out of relationships with not much time in between. My last relationship lasted four+ years and when it abruptly ended last year, I was devastated and not ready for the single life AT ALL. If you've been in a similar situation, you know what I'm talking about.

With Valentine's Day passing recently, I started to think of all the things I do now that I hardly ever or never did when in relationships. I'm probably going to steer clear of sexual-related things since you can probably guess one way or another what's involved when you're single and need to "clear house". (That sentence was probably actually worse than if the subject had just made it to the list, but let's move on.) Here are my top 5 things I do way more of now that I'm single.

1. I stay up late

 Gaming/drinking nights never end early.

Gaming/drinking nights never end early.

For some reason, now that I'm singular, I always stay up way later than I should. In the time that I've been single, I think the earliest I've gone to bed is 10:30pm, though I average about 1am on weekdays and 4am on weekends. My sleeping habits will probably kill me. That is unless number two doesn't get me first.

2. I drink more alcohol

 Pretty straight forward Snapchat.

Pretty straight forward Snapchat.

I'm not even particularly very fond of drinking alcohol. In fact, in a relationship, I generally get drunk/tipsy about 4-5 times a year. As a single person, that number has become 4-5 times every two weeks or so. Now, this may make me sound like an alcoholic and I very well may be, but most of these nights I'm not getting extremely drunk. Usually, I'm just getting tipsy and using it as catalyst to be social at bars and talk to strangers.

3. I'm more willing to be spontaneous

 Drove to Austin randomly just to hang out, party, and protest.

Drove to Austin randomly just to hang out, party, and protest.

This is one of my favorite things about being single. I don't have anyone to be accountable to. I can leave at anytime, stay out as long as I'd like(as long as the cat is fed), and really do whatever I feel like doing. Making plans at the drop of a dime is fantastic and deciding I need 7-11 French vanilla coffee at 1am and actually getting it is a beautiful thing all in itself.

4. I meet tons of new people

 Oh, Deep Ellum...

Oh, Deep Ellum...

Relationships tend to keep me in somewhat of a box. I don't see that as a completely horrible thing nor am I anti-relationships, but meeting new people on dates and in bars is pretty great. Most meetings are just for that day or night. Passing friendships summed up by a few hours or less, but their exciting. Some nights are depressing. Some nights are just mediocre. And some nights are so fantastically amazing that I'll remember them for the rest of my life. (I'm thinking of you, Hollywood.)

5. I get to know myself

 How do you cross your eyes all the way and look into your own soul? 

How do you cross your eyes all the way and look into your own soul? 

It's a wonderful thing to share myself with a partner, but living by myself has been such an enriching experience that I wouldn't trade it for the world. (Well, maybe the world.) Going on walks or just sitting in weird areas of my apartment and staring off into space and meditating has opened areas of my mind I never knew existed. I can't tell you how many times I've put headphones in, listened to instrumental music, and just took a walk by myself to reflect on the day. Being by myself is normally a great feeling. I highly encourage everyone to do more of it.

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Those are my top 5, though in no way are they a complete catalog of the things that have changed while being a single adult, creeping ever so quickly toward that 30 year mark. I'm excited, scared, lost, happy, and a dictionary of other emotions, as I move forward in life. I have a lot more to discover in life and a plethora of goals, which may be easier to attain as a single adult. Here's to you, future - please, be easy on me.