Let It Be

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What was the first Beatles song you heard on the radio? For me, it was the first and only Beatles song I ever heard while it was on the charts, Let It Be. I wasn’t a Beatles fan. I was only eight years old. I didn’t even listen to the radio, but I heard it when my parents had it on, or when it played in a shopping mall. Even so, I remember that I knew Let It Be was a phenomenon. It was more than just a song. I sort of knew that there was a group called “The Beatles” and this was their last record.

I remember that my sister bought the 45, I assume a few years later. I have it now. I also remember that my grandfather would often say the words, “Let it be”. I don’t know if he was quoting from the Beatles or was even aware of who they were or the name of the song, but he said it quite often.

I remember becoming a fan of pop music around 1973-1974. The first record that I bought was “Seasons in the Sun”, which was number one for quite some time in 1974. After that, the next number one song was Hooked On A Feeling, AKA the ugachaka song. The radio stations that I listened to, WFIL and WIBG in Philadelphia, never never played the Beatles anymore. Once in a while they would play a song like Kodachrome, from 1973, and they would call it an oldie.

From the time I started listening to music in 1973, until 1980, I wasn’t a fan of The Beatles. They were older than oldies. It wasn’t cool to listen to them. I guess those seven years were my Beatles latency period. I did listen to Wings. Because some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. And what’s wrong with that? But Wings were not The Beatles. I don’t even know if I was aware at the time that Paul McCartney was a former Beatle. I remember listening to Elton’s John’s “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. Someone told me it was originally recorded by The Beatles, but I still considered it to be an Elton song.

I thought of all this tonight on the way home from yoga class. So when I got home, I had to dig through the 45s and look for Let It Be. I found it, snapped in the yellow adapter, put it on the record player, and listened to it. And boy, did it sound bad! Lots of scratches made it continuously pop. Warping made the tempo speed up and slow down. But when it was done, I listened to it again. And then again. And then again. And it made me happy.

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Nobody Says It Better

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Who has been in a relationship that you knew was wrong? And your friends knew it was wrong. But you kept going back, because it was so….right.

I started thinking about such past relationships while driving to work, as I was listening to my Carly Simon playlist, and the song “Jesse” came on. Very poignant lyrics to that song.

I have only a few of my own words to contribute to this post, because nobody says it better than Carly Simon. Just a little editing and rearranging Carly’s lyrics. The “he”s could be “she”s, depending on who is telling the story.

Annie, keep reminding me
That he cut out my heart like a paper doll
Sally, tell me once again
How he set me up just to see me fall

Jesse, quick come here
I won’t tell a soul
My friends will all say “She’s gone again”
But how can anyone know what you are to me?
That I’m in heaven again because you’ve come back to me!

My friends….they think I’ve sunk so low
LA LA LA, LA LA!
LA LA LA, LA LA!
LA LA LA, LA LA!!

Jesse, I will put on cologne
And sit by the phone for you
And sit by the phone for you
And sit by the phone for you

Oh mother, say a prayer for me.

Songwriters: Mike Jr Mainieri / Carly Simon
Published By Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

The Vegetarian

C90F66CD-B1B8-462F-A7F1-E7D353EF9085-16539-00001CBF297809E1I was twenty minutes early for my 4:45 appointment with the psychiatrist. I sat in my car and opened the Meetup app on my phone to see if anything interesting was coming up for book club. I saw that the nonfiction book club was going to read “All The President’s Men” and the fiction club was going to read “The Vegetarian”.

By then it was 4:30 and I walked into the office. Dr Z came out. I said “I’m fifteen minutes early,” and she said “That’s OK, I will see you now.”

She asked how I was doing. I said I’m doing well, and sleeping through the night on the current med. She said, “Good” and wrote a refill prescription and handed it to me. And she gave me a followup appointment for three months out. In all of less than a minute, I was done. My 4:45 appointment was done at 4:31.

My yoga class, which is in the same building as my shrink, wasn’t scheduled to start until 6:15. I had time to kill, so I walked to the Mission Viejo library, which is just across the street.

I went to the online catalog and looked up “All The President’s Men”. Because I’m a non-fiction kind of guy. Two copies, both out. So I looked for “The Vegetarian.” One copy, on the shelves. Woohoo!

I found the book and sat down and started reading it. Interesting book. It was written by a woman from the point of view of a man, telling the story of his wife. The wife apparently had horrible nightmares that prompted her to become a vegetarian.

I really liked the writing style, and in no time I read about five pages into the book. I decided to keep the book and try to finish it for book club, which is exactly one week out. Only 188 pages. I think I can do it.

While I was reading, a young Asian woman walked up to me and said, “Is that ‘The Vegetarian’?” I said, “Yes, it is!” And she said, “Oh my God! I was just looking for that book!”

If I were someone else, this might have been the start of a new romance. Instead, my thought was “What luck! If I had arrived at the library ten minutes later, the one copy would have already been out!”

I felt a blog post coming on. I checked out the book and walked over to Yoga Works, checked in, changed into my yoga gear, and sat down on a chair in the lobby. And I took out my phone and typed up this post with my two thumbs. Finished just in time for yoga class.

Spring Cleaning

I’m doing a little spring cleaning today. I came across this newspaper. I had saved it because of the article about furnaces.

IMG_6579September 28, 2000. The last few months of the Clinton presidency. The last days of the previous millennium. The unofficial last days of the ’90s.

Notice that the furnace article was the top story on the front page. There was a presidential campaign going on (Bush vs Gore), but not a lot of mudslinging or calling opponents names. Perhaps the people had had enough after the aborted Clinton impeachment. Articles about the campaign didn’t even appear until page 12. The biggest issue of the campaign was what to do with the huge budget surplus.

Who knew that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision would soon divide the nation? Who knew that we would soon be attacked on our own soil? Who knew that we would soon have an economic crisis rivaling the Great Depression?

I miss the ’90s.

Just Seventy Cents

I asked for the Quarter Pounder With Cheese meal, but with lettuce and tomato. The boy asked if I wanted the lettuce and tomato instead of the ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickle, and I said, “Yes.” I asked how much extra it would be. He rang it up and said the total is $8.82. I asked, “But, how much extra for the lettuce and tomato?” He said, “Just seventy cents.” I said, “OK”.

Thank God it was just seventy cents extra. Because seventy cents for just lettuce and tomato would have been outrageous.

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Sad Neil, Happy Neil

I’ve been listening to Neil Diamond’s latest album, Melody Road. It’s a pleasant upbeat album, easy to listen to, and I am enjoying it. But each time, after I’ve listened to it for about 15 minutes, I find that I switch to the old stuff. Tonight, I think I figured out why.

The new album is happy. The songs tell a happy story. Here are some examples.

The title track, Melody Road, is an ode to happiness.

I know every song you lead me to
It’s gonna be my friend

Write me a song to make you smile
There’s no need to sing the blues

The second track, First Time, gives advice for a happy life. I think it’s meant for aspiring songwriters.

Finally out there on your own and it’s
Your time
For making it happen

Make rhyme
So fine
First time!

There is actually a song on the album called “Sunny Disposition”. You get the idea.

Tonight, after I made the switch from the new album to my Best of Neil playlist, came my epiphany. I just don’t connect with the new songs. They don’t resonate with me the way the old songs do. The way the old sad songs do.

You know the old songs. The ones you can sing with a cry in your voice. The songs you listen to when you hurt. When hurtin’ runs off your shoulder. The songs you listen to when you feel lost between two shores. I could feel my mood change as the old songs played. For I was lonely. And she was lonely.

This doesn’t mean I’m a sad person. It’s just easier for me to connect with a sad song. When I am sad, hearing a happy song doesn’t do much for me. But hearing a sad song gives me a feeling of empathy. When I am happy, the sad songs make me appreciate my happiness.

Hearing about love on the rocks reminds me of what I’ve gone through to make me strong today. I gave you my heart, gave you my soul, you left me alone here with nothing to hold.

If I am ruminating about a failed relationship, I don’t feel so alone when I hear lyrics telling me that memories won’t go, that thoughts of her won’t leave my head, and perhaps just one thing makes me forget. I’m not the only one whose blue, blue heart has been torn apart.

The old songs are a gold mine of therapy. Melinda was mine till the time that I found her holding Jim, and loving him. Until I can find me the girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me, I’ll be what I am, a solitary man. Forever in blue jeans.

If I’m feeling down, It’s not even necessary for me to drink red, red wine to make me forget. All I have to do is listen to a few bars of Cracklin’ Rosie to make me smile.

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This post contains excerpts of songs. All lyrics quoted here were written by Neil Diamond.

In Search of Rhonda

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Since my divorce in 2005, I’ve been on a quest to find my true life partner. My soulmate. The woman I will hopefully share the rest of my life with.

It’s almost twelve years later, and so far my quest has not been successful. I’ve met some nice women, and I’ve had several relationships, but unfortunately, there was always something that made them not work out. And, as I’ve learned, with each failed relationship comes a new loss in my life.

Losses are tough to take. As we go through life, we experience more and more losses. First we lose our grandparents. We lose pets. We lose parents. Some of us are unfortunate enough to lose siblings.

When one suffers a loss, they go through emotions that are similar to clinical depression. And, of course, there are always all five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Right now, I’m still alternating between all of the first four. I’ve had brief visits to acceptance, but those have been short glimpses that lasted less than a day.

I’ve mitigated the chances for future grief a bit by making a pact with myself never to get another pet. We always outlive our pets. Pets are certain loss. In my life, I’ve lost Skippy, Elmer, Licorice, Kihei, and Kitty. And I’ve been there to see my daughter lose Tweety Bird and Peanuts. That’s enough pet loss for a lifetime.

After each relationship ends, I always restart my quest, once I’ve finally made it to the acceptance stage and can stay there. Single friends have told me that they admire my persistence, my optimism, my tenacity.

When recent relationships have ended, I’ve gone to a playlist that I made for myself a few relationships back. I listen to it in the car. It consists of six covers of the song “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”, by various artists. My favorite is the one by Elvis Costello. One of my favorite stanzas from the song is this one:

What do you get when you give your heart?
You get it all broken up and battered
That’s what you get, a heart that’s shattered
I’ll never fall in love again

But, there is a part at the end that is hopeful and optimistic:

So for at least until tomorrow
I’ll never fall in love again

It’s saying that when I say “never” I don’t really mean never never. I might change my mind tomorrow. Or the next day. And in the past, I’ve always done that and returned to my quest.

This time I haven’t made it to that point. It seems different. This loss seems to have broken my spirit. I’ve come to the realization that if I try again it’s almost certainly going to end, as every attempt in the past has, and I’ll have to go through loss and grief once again. I can prevent that by not trying anymore. I can make a “no more relationships” pact, similar to my “no more pets” pact.

One thing that makes me happy in recent times is the poki bowl, also known as the poke bowl. When I have a poki bowl, it always puts me in a good mood, always makes me smile. Especially sweet is when I find a new poki restaurant, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality of the poki.

After yoga class, I was looking for a new place to have dinner, so I took out my phone and fired up the Yelp app. I was looking for some new fast food restaurant near the yoga place, so I could have a quick dinner before going to Trader Joe’s, down the block, for some grocery shopping. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new poki place. I searched Mission Viejo for restaurants. And guess what was the first restaurant to come up in the search, 0.3 miles away–right across the street? Yes, a new poki place! Poke Wave! It had 154 reviews. Five full stars. Yay!

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Less than a minute later I was in Poke Wave ordering my bowl. But before I ate it, as I am wont to do, I had to take a picture of my food, check in on Facebook, and post a photo. Here is the photo for you, dear reader.

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It was even better than it looked! And I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I was eating it, one of my friends replied to my Facebook post with this question:

“Are they playing the Beach Boys in the background?”

Because Poke Wave. Get it?

On the way home, I listened to my Beach Boys playlist in the car. First “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, then “California Girls”, then “Surfin’ USA”, and finally “Help Me Rhonda”. And I realized what I need. I need a Rhonda!

Help me, Rhonda
Help, help me, Rhonda
Help me, Rhonda, yeah
Get her out of my heart