Love and Loss

A friend of mine recently reminded me of the old saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I happen to agree with this. I can’t imagine going through life never having experienced love.

My friend said this to me to encourage me to go “out there” again. But the saying doesn’t exactly apply, because I’ve been lucky enough to have already experienced love. And I’ve been unlucky enough to have experienced loss.

I do think that for someone who has experienced love and loss, it’s still worth that risk to try again. A second chance at love is probably worth the risk of another loss.

However, I also believe at some point it makes sense to stop. Loss is always painful. And it doesn’t get any easier each time. In fact, I think it gets harder. Isn’t there a limit to how much loss one must endure in their quest for lasting love? Surely so much loss must have a deleterious effect on one’s health.

If someone has been lucky enough to have already loved ten times, but has been beaten down from ten losses, I don’t think it is true that it’s better to love an eleventh time and experience yet another excruciating loss. At that point, it’s worse to lose yet another time than to try to love again.

Let us summarize what we’ve learned so far. Better to love and lose once than not at all. Better to love a second time and lose again than to give up trying. Worse to love an eleventh time and lose yet again than to quit while you are already so far behind.

It seems that there is a magic number between two and eleven, an inflection point, where the risk of loss starts to outweigh the potential benefit of another attempt at love. Let’s say that number is five. Then the saying for that infection point would be, “It is equally as painful to experience a fifth loss as it would be pleasurable to experience love for a fifth time.” And once you pass this number, stop and choose a new hobby.

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

No News Is Good News

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I’ve always read the news. I want to be informed. I believe it’s important to know what goes on in the world.

When I was a little boy, my mother always had the car radio tuned to the local news station. KWY. News Radio. 1060. Those of you from Philly are probably hearing the jingle in your heads right now. Sorry about that!

But lately, the news is hard to read. Horrible things happening all over in the world. Lies. The current race for President makes reading the news almost unbearable. I hate the way the candidates and their followers are viciously attacking each other. When some dirt comes up about something someone has done twenty-five years ago that might ruin this person’s life, a news reporter somewhere is pumping his fist and saying “Yes!”

I decided that reading the news was too depressing, so I decided to make a change. One of my news sources has a page called “Good News” that filters the news and only shows what they consider to be good. I was glad to find this. I needed something to cheer me up from all the other headlines and stories. So, I clicked on the “Good News” link. By the way, by “click” I mean I touched the screen on my iPhone with my finger. Clicking on a link is now like rolling down a window. Or dialing a phone number. Or not touching that dial on the TV. But that’s another blog post!

Excited to see what good news story I would find, I was very disappointed to see that the top story was about a teen who died from cancer, with a big photo of the boy. It was the top good news story because his school honored him. Just below that was a photo of wreckage from the floods in Louisiana. It was on the good news page because apparently one of the flood victims won the lottery. So, one person won the lottery, and thousands or perhaps millions of people lost their homes or lives. This is the good news page. Sorry, but this didn’t cheer me up.

I thought I’d give them one more chance, so I moved on to the next article on the Good News page. It had a photo of a cat, which looked promising. The article was about a local news organization in Portland, Maine, that was having a local debate-watching party. In the room, they had nine therapy kittens. The kittens were there for people watching the debate who wanted to take a break from the ugliness and chill out. What a good idea! My faith in humankind is restored. I can always count on kitties to put a smile on my face!

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The Lure of Facebook

Facebook has become a daily part of my life. When I wake up in the morning and grab my phone, not a minute of the new day goes by before I’m checking what’s new with my Facebook friends. This goes on throughout the day. And when I retire at night, Facebook is again there with me.

I don’t even want to think about how much time I spend with Facebook each day, and how much time I’ve spent with it over my life. I checked my email history and found that I first signed up with Facebook in 2007. June 19, 2007 to be exact. 9:44 AM. A Tuesday. Yes, I’m well into my tenth year! And if you signed up, as I did, back in those early days, you know what it means to be poked.

I asked myself what it is about Facebook that so powerfully draws me in. I think one of the top reasons is FOMO. If I don’t spend significant time today reading Facebook, how will I know what all my friends are up to today? What’s the latest meme that everyone is talking about? What’s the latest quiz, and why am the only one who hasn’t taken it yet? All my friends are scoring 95% or higher on knowledge of ‘70s music. What’s my score? I have to know! And I have to post it, because my friends are waiting to see it. What’s the latest political discussion? Which of my friends are arguing with each other, sometimes on my timeline? I have to read every message on every discussion thread to find out.

The “nametests” app is popular right now. It’s a sort of test, but you don’t have to answer any questions. You just give it permission to see ALL YOUR STUFF, so it can give you the answer to burning questions such as “What food am I?” and “What song am I?” Yikes! Just as I was researching this post, I looked at the nametets app and couldn’t resist. Now I know what cartoon character I am. Superman. Yipeee. This…has…to…stop.

The irony here is that because of FOMO, I’m really missing out on things that I would most certainly enjoy more. The stack of books that are half-read. My queue of movies on Netflix (which is always at the maximum of 500). Phone calls with my family across the miles. Getting together in person with friends. Real hobbies! Exercise. Almost anything else!

I decided a few days ago that I would cut down drastically on my Facebook time. I don’t want to stop completely, because I do think there is a lot of value in it. But, I’d like it to be something I do once in a while, when the mood strikes me. And I’d like to get some of that time back!

So, I instinctively picked up my phone with the intention of posting this new pact I’ve made with myself on my timeline. Wait a minute. Maybe not such a good idea. I’ll explain later.

A few months ago my friend Paula and I came up with the idea of Facebook Free Friday (FFF). Very simple. No Facebooking on Fridays. And let’s see what better use we can make with the time. It was successful while it lasted. We both actually did things that we previously “didn’t have the time to do”. It went on for a few weeks, but eventually met its end. Maybe Friday was not a good day for FFF. Have to see what people post. Have to use Facebook to plan for the weekend. Maybe Wednesday would be a better day, but FFW goes doesn’t have the ring to it that FFF has. And it would be fewer points as a Scattergories answer.

This time, I decided I would cut down every day, not just Friday. The key is not to let it control me. I would look at Facebook only when I wanted to, and only for a few minutes.

Back to picking up my phone to announce my pact on my timeline. I decided against it. This would be a step that is part of my distancing myself from Facebook. (Though I suppose I will let WordPress post a link to this post on my timeline.)

The next time I picked up my phone was to open the Maps app, to get directions to a party I was going to last night. And when I picked up the phone, I saw this.

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And I had a eureka moment! The badge! There are three Facebook notifications that I haven’t looked at yet! Have to look at them. What am I missing? I realized that it will be very hard to avoid the temptation of Facebook when I see that big red “3” staring at me. In an hour, it will probably be a “5”. Tomorrow, it will be a “10”, or worse!

The red number on the badge was pulling me in. I felt like Michael Corleone in The Godfather 3. Remember his famous line? “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

Why does the badge appear? It appears when there are notifications. Why are there notifications? Mostly, they are from people commenting on or liking things that I post. Or people commenting on other people’s posts that I liked or commented on. And there was still a stream of notifications coming in from my latest activities over the past few days.

There are two ways to kill the notifications and badges. (1) Turn off notifications. Facebook allows you to do this. (2) Stop posting.

Well, (1) is not an option!!! If people reply to something I wrote, I have to see it! So, the only option is (2). If I want to kill the Facebook monster, I can’t feed it. Just one post or comment or like starts the vicious cycle all over again.

But what kind of member of the Facebook community would I be if I were silent? I wouldn’t be fulfilling my social responsibility. And this brings me to what is probably the second most important reason I use Facebook. To like people’s posts. I know people get pleasure out of seeing other people like their posts. It’s like getting candy. Or heroin. What kind of friend would I be if I withhold my likes from their posts?

Even as I write this post, I am seeing notifications pop up on my computer screen. One just popped up now.

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I’m also realizing that I can’t give up Facebook for good, because I need to use it to look at my group calendars for events.

I’ll conclude with something I saw on TV last week. Michelle Obama was the guest on Stephen Colbert’s show. She was talking about her visit to the Queen and that she was asked to order what she wanted to eat from a menu. And she ordered French fries, which she said were some of the best French fries she’s ever had. And she “came out” with the fact that she’s a French fry lover. And the White House also serves delicious French fries, which she enjoys. Yes, this is the same Michelle Obama who is one of the top promoters of nutrition. She eats a healthy diet for the most part, but she also occasionally indulges in delicious French fries.

The point is, everything in moderation. That applies to French fries as well as Facebook. And ice cream. And chocolate. Well, maybe not chocolate. There is never a reason to go a day without chocolate.

Shaved Cat

Via The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Rare

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This is a photo from August 2009 of my former cat, Kihei. He was a Maine Coon mix with very long hair that would often get matted. He did not like it when that happened, and at one point it became impossible to brush out, and the vet recommended getting him shaved. At first it was a shock to him (and to me!), but soon he grew to like it, and it also helped him beat the August heat.

The Delusion of Luxury

Via Daily Prompt: Luxury

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I remember the first Olympics that I watched as a child. It was 1972. I was ten years old. We had an eighteen-inch black and white Zenith television. We had to adjust the rabbit ears each time we changed the channel, or when someone walked into the room. No remote control, of course. No DVR. No VCR. No streaming. After we turned it on, it took about a minute to warm up.

The Olympics were televised on a single channel, ABC, which was channel 6 in my home town of Philadelphia. It seemed that the entire two weeks was narrated by Jim McKay and Chris Schenkel, who, by the end of the broadcast, seemed like old friends.

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It’s now forty-four years later, 2016. I have a 56” high definition flat screen TV. A perfect picture with no adjustments needed. I have two DVRs, so I can record every minute of the Olympics and watch my favorite events. It’s televised on so many channels, I can’t even keep track: NBC, NBC Sports Network, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, and the Golf Channel. Apparently, there are eleven channels in all. Wow! This is luxury!

I sat down on the couch and brought up the cable guide, so I could decide what to record on the DVR, and it was overwhelming. There are approximately 356 hours of TV coverage per day, for 19 days, which, according to NBC, adds up to 6,755 hours of programming. Programming the DVR for the Olympics is not fun or relaxing. It’s even stressful! I sat for thirty minutes and programmed what I wanted to watch the first day, and I was exhausted.

I remember when I watched the Olympics in 1972, it was fun and relaxing. I would turn on the TV, which was set to channel 6 for two plus weeks, and the Olympics were always on. I remember looking forward to the next day to turn on the TV and watch more Olympics.

My whole family watched it with me. I remember sitting intently, watching and enjoying the events. Sure it was on a small black and white standard definition television that needed to be fine tuned, and occasionally had to have the vertical hold adjusted, but that was all we knew, and it didn’t matter. We thought it was awesome that the Olympics were happening in Munich, and through the magic of satellites, we were able to watch it in our living room. Awesome!

I remember the details of the events. I remember watching Mark Spitz swim freestyle, butterfly, and relay and win seven gold medals. I remember watching Olga Korbut win three gold medals in gymnastics. I remember watching the US men’s basketball team get robbed of the gold medal when the officials allowed the final three seconds of the game to be replayed–twice–until the Soviet team finally scored a basket and won the game by one point. And I remember the horror of the massacre of the Israeli athletes–the Munich Massacre.

Back to 2016. It’s now Monday, the third full day of Olympic events. I started by turning on the TV, to see what was on live. First I checked NBC. Men’s synchronized diving. Then I searched the guide and saw that the NBC Sports Channel was showing men’s weightlifting. I watched that for a few minutes. It was fine, but I had to check to see if there was something better. Because I can. I looked through what I had recorded and found women’s team volleyball. I enjoy watching that. A match can go on for hours and I find it relaxing to watch. I have fond memories of watching volleyball matches from past Olympics. So put down the remote and started watching. On the 56 inch high def flat screen TV. Luxury, right?

But, it’s not 1972 anymore. I couldn’t just watch the match. Not with my smart phone in my left hand, and my computer in front of me. Not with unread Facebook posts, text messages, emails, and blog posts. And I suddenly felt inspired to write this blog post to complain about it.

Now it’s two hours later. I’m caught up on Facebook. I’ve read all my emails. No outstanding texts. And this post is almost finished. And the volleyball match on my luxurious TV is over. I don’t know who won. I don’t even know who was playing.

I Just Need Someone To Love

I’m trying something new for my dating site blurb. Instead of saying that I like to eat vegetarian food and sushi, and that I enjoy yoga, hiking, long walks, and board games, I thought I’d try something different. So here it is. I’ll probably change it back tomorrow.

I get by with a little help from my friends
I get high with a little help from my friends [1]

While this is true, and I am extremely grateful for my friends, I want something more.

I want somebody to love
I just need someone to love [1]

I see a lot of profiles that say something like this:

I am happy with my life, and I don’t need a romantic relationship. But, it would be a nice addition.

They say that a romantic relationship would be “dessert” or “icing on the cake” or “the cherry on top”. I don’t feel that way. For me, a romantic relationship, or what I’d prefer to call a primary relationship, is not dessert; it’s the main course. I want a partner who also wants a main course, who won’t think of me as dessert. I want to be the priority in her life, as she will be in mine. Friends, relatives, kids, they all have (or will have) their own families to keep them busy, who are their priorities. My partner is the person who will stand by my side through the remainder of my life, the person who will be there for me whenever I need her, the person who will always be available when I need to talk, the person who will pick me up if I fall. She will be my soft place to land. And I will be all these things for her.

Even though it’s likely been torn out and trampled on many times, as has mine, the partner I am looking for will be brave enough to wear her heart out on her sleeve, as I will with mine. She knows that it’s a big risk, but the potential payoff is what will make life worthwhile.

When we find each other, we will both want to say this:

You’re just too good to be true
I can’t take my eyes off you
You’d be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off you [2]


[1] Lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
[2] Lyrics by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio