The Up Side of Down, Making Light of Loneliness

Lately, I’ve noticed many lonely souls hanging out in sad solitude. The single seaters at Starbucks poking at their computers or pretending to read the newspaper, the odd person eating alone at restaurants, the commuter train filled with folks entranced by their mini-video screens with nary a glance at fellow travelers. It’s easy to spot the single folks, especially if you are, like me, one of them. Which makes writing this post so easy.

Let me put a different spin on loneliness and offer its advantages:

1. Living alone means making the bed is optional rather than submit to the control freak compulsions of a significant other.

2. Bing alone means that making pancakes for breakfast on Friday at 9 p.m. requires no excuses.

3. Lonely people don’t have to share the last cookie not to mention feel the least bit guilty eating it.

4. Being alone means you can squeeze the toothpaste tube any darn way you want.

5. Alone means you can watch any television channel you want or those dvd’s you’ve been too embarrassed to share, and drink all the beer or eat all the ice cream you feel like in the comfort of your underwear,  without any snarky feedback except perhaps from the pleading eyes of your dog. Okay, if you’ve got a dog you can’t possibly be lonely and don’t need to read the rest of this list.

6. Being alone means you need not explain to anyone just why you feel like blowing up balloons and then stoping on them after a trying day at work.

7. Alone means you can change the color of lipstick you wear every day without your room mate asking “Is something the matter?”

8. Single means that when you order a medium pizza you suddenly have enough “food” to last two entire days.

9. Being alone makes grocery shopping so much easier. “Did she say Toasty Crunchies” or was it “Chocolate Crispies?”

10. There is a singular bliss in solitude knowing that you can fart however and whenever you want.

11. Sleeping alone means you don’t have to pretend you are sleeping when he/she comes home late wanting to talk. Another plus on the subject of sleep is that alone means you don’t have to worry about snoring, unless, like me, you snore so loud you wake yourself up.

12. Being alone means you already have the one audience who will always listen to you. Yourself.

13. Perhaps the greatest gift of being alone is that now you are absolutely, totally available to whatever opportunity comes along. This means that when that elder gentleman in the tuxedo and top hat walks up to lonely you sitting by yourself in the coffee shop and says, “Excuse me, I can see that you are lonely and my anonymous employer has authorized me to hand you this round the world travel ticket including a check for $500,000 to cover expenses. The only stipulation is you must leave this week and you must travel alone.”

Of course, you can have only one answer-

“Me?”

And lastly, being “alone” makes you part of one of the world’s biggest ironies-

Consider this, you are sitting in solitude, feeling down, hoping that your life will change. At this very moment, all around the planet, there are millions of fellow loners just like you, with similar thoughts. Conclusion: you are actually surrounded by a sea of fellow solos. None of you are even close to alone.

I’m waiting for someone to stand up in Starbucks and shout, “Hey! Is anybody else lonely here?”

I’m listening…

from Tio Stib’s archives, the empty times before he met his wonderful wife. No, it wasn’t at Starbucks.

 

Where the Sidewalk Ends

A poem by Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

by Shel Silverstein, 1974

When I start slipping into seriousness, I turn to Shel Silverstein to lighten up. Reading his poems with kids is better than blowing bubbles on San francisco’s BART train.

Want more fun? Watch this link on YouTube-

Third World Shower

the singular measure
of civilized pleasure
a waking human’s treasure

the perfect morning shower

while some grade countries on GNP
the importance of which I fail to see
only one thing matters to me

my perfect morning shower

still asleep
I hear the hiss
signal of my morning bliss
the flood of wet and cozy warm
the deluge splashing off my arms
consciousness begins to shake
my toes squiggle in a little lake
oh joy, the day that starts like this
if not, surely something is amiss

so here I stand expectantly
waiting for what I hope will be
that moment of pure ecstasy

my perfect morning shower

a distant rumble in the wall
my senses spark to shower’s call
the pipes begin to shake and creak
and then there is a tiny leak
a drip
an agonizing
pittance
of lukewarm
dribble

and so, from side to side I sway
trying to soak in token spray
pretending things will be okay

without my morning shower

tio stib, 2016

You might also enjoy: Morning Bliss, Mystery Game

Morning Bliss

as morning tickled consciousness
I felt the bliss of nothingness
no cares
no pains
no trains to mis

one eye peeked out
and check the day
the sun screamed back
c’mon
let’s play

a choir of birds
sang from the trees
my only thought was
silence please

the voice of guilt
rang through my head
it’s time, your laziness
get out of bed

this voice was buried in a flash
by memories of my recent past
the years of running for the door
pushing self
do more
do more

then in a fit of selfish glee
I pulled the covers over me
I chose to hide inside my dreams
to feel once more
the peaceful bliss
of pure and simple
nothingness

Tio Stib Signature

You may also enjoy: The Crossing, The Comfort of Complacency

Back to Love Basics 7, The Plus Side of Solitude Sucks

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in trying to find our soulmate that we forget about the pleasures of being alone. In case your suffering from the solitude sucks syndrome, may I suggest the benefits of not having someone else around to share life with.

Consider these advantages of being one and only one-

1. Living alone means making the bed is optional rather than submit to the control freak compulsions of a significant other.
2. Being alone means that making pancakes for breakfast on Friday at 9 p.m. requires no excuses.
3. Lonely people don’t have to share the last cookie not to mention feel the least bit guilty eating it.
4. Being alone means you can squeeze the toothpaste tube any darn way you want.
5. Alone means you can watch any television channel you want or those dvd’s you’ve been too embarrassed to share, and drink all the beer or eat all the ice cream you feel like in the comfort of your underwear, without any snarky feedback except perhaps from the pleading eyes of your dog. Okay, if you’ve got a dog you can’t possibly be lonely and don’t need to read the rest of this list.
6. Being alone means you need not explain to anyone just why you feel like blowing up balloons and then stoping on them after a trying day at work.
7. Alone means you can change the color of lipstick you wear every day without your room mate asking “Is something the matter?”
8. Single means that when you order a medium pizza you suddenly have enough “food” to last two entire days.
9. Being alone makes grocery shopping so much easier. “Did she say Toastie Crunchies” or was it “Chocolate Crispies?”
10. There is a singular bliss in solitude knowing that you can fart however and whenever you want.
11. Sleeping alone means you don’t have to pretend you are sleeping when he/she comes home late wanting to talk. Another plus on the subject of sleep is that alone means you don’t have to worry about snoring, unless, like me, you snore so loud you wake yourself up.
12. Being alone means you already have the one audience who will always listen to you. Yourself.
13. Perhaps the greatest gift of being alone is that now you are absolutely, totally available to whatever opportunity comes along. This means that when that elder gentleman in the tuxedo and top hat walks up to lonely you sitting by yourself in the coffee shop and says, “Excuse me, I can see that you are lonely and my anonymous employer has authorized me to hand you this round the world travel ticket including a check for $500,000 to cover expenses. The only stipulation is you must leave this week and you must travel alone.”

Of course, you can have only one answer…

“Me?”

And lastly, being “alone” makes you part of one of the world’s biggest ironies.

Consider this, you are sitting in solitude, feeling down, hoping that your life will change. At this very moment, all around the planet, there are millions of fellow loners just like you, with similar thoughts. Conclusion: you are actually surrounded by a sea of fellow solos. None of you are even close to alone.

I’m waiting for someone to stand up in Starbucks and shout, “Hey! Is anybody else lonely here?”

I’m listening…

Tio Stib Signature

You might also enjoy: Seattle Sun, Soulmates at Starbucks

Back to Love Basics 6, Rejection Therapy, Bernie Sanders, and Why I Like Fly Fishing

It’s been a good day, mostly. I received a hugely positive book review, a number of projects I’m working on inched ahead, I met someone who might become a wonderful computer helper, and my wife and I created a surprisingly tasty meal together. Trust me, the last accomplishment was especially satisfying for a blind guy who lives for sumptuous taste.

So why am I writing about “Rejection Therapy,” Bernie Sanders and fly fishing?

Let’s start with “Rejection Therapy.” Just what is it?

Would you believe that “Rejection Therapy” is listed in Wikipedia? by that account, “Rejection Therapy” is a game invented by a guy who wants to help us get over our rejection angst. You win the game by getting the most people to reject you. I would do well with this game.

I’ve been playing “Rejection Therapy” most of my life. However, I’ve been playing in v-e-r-r-r-r-y s-l-l-o-o-o-w motion. As an example, it took me two years to recover from the shame of my first dating disaster before I even considered asking another girl out. By age forty, I’d reduced my recovery time to a mere three weeks.

What might this process have to do with you? Since life is all about relationships and I’m assuming you’ve had your share of these, I think it’s safe to guess that you’ve also had relationship failures. If this is true, the important question is-

How have you dealt with rejection?

Since this discussion is edging towards serious, let me break off and share my afternoon’s rejection therapy experience.

I happen to believe in the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. Without getting too much into it, suffice to say that I’d pretty much given up on American politics after Regan in the 80’s and generally avoided the stench of any news that came from the nation’s capitol. Yes, such behavior could be described as apathetic or un-American, but it was what it was. Then I found myself in the midst of a group of impassioned college kids pitching for Bernie Sanders, an old fart whose been standing up for what he believes is right for America more than thirty years. Those kids got my attention. I checked out Bernie and his ideas and soon I was another impassioned supporter promoting Bernie on street corners,, feeling hope for America again.

I was out this afternoon, standing on a corner in a small middle-class town wearing a big smile, sporting my best positive attitude, as throngs of people passed by on their way to the farmers’ market.

I put out a hearty “Good afternoon!” to everyone walking by. No political pitch, there was a big Bernie sign behind me with leaflets on a table. Just a hearty “Good afternoon!”

And what did I get in return?

Nothing.

They didn’t smile. They didn’t speak. They turned their heads, swerved to walk further away from me, did anything to pretend I didn’t exist.

Wow! I was stunned. I wasn’t pushing any hard sell for Bernie Sanders, just saying, “Good afternoon!”

Nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. I kept an approximate count, and from more than one hundred passersby, I received about five “Good afternoon to you,” responses, and even a few “Go Bernie!” quips. But most everyone went by pretending that a smiling human being, decently dressed, clean shaven, offering a simple “Good afternoon!” didn’t exist.

As I began processing what was going on, my mind flashed on other “Rejection Therapy “ experiences I’ve had. If you’re a writer, perhaps we’ve shared similar countless agent and publisher rejections. but, have you ever been fly fishing?

I hugely enjoy fly fishing for steelhead and trout. I’ve gone entire days without a single strike, not one indication that fish live anywhere near where I’ve been fishing. Yet, this is not upsetting. Sure, a bit disappointing, but like the “Rejection Therapy” game where players can ultimately learn to be at peace with rejection, I’ve learned to pay attention to the total fishing experience and not worry about catching fish. Drifting down a beautiful river, taking in the sounds of Nature, rushing water and songbirds, feeling a warm breeze on my face filled with the sweet scent of pine trees. All these things let me cast hundreds of times without a trace of an excited fish.

I recalled my fishing feelings as people continued to pass by, paying me no heed. Suddenly, I was standing on the bank of the River of Life, taking a deep breath of the fresh jasmine filled air, feeling the sun’s warmth on my face, noting that in front of me flowed a constant stream of fish faces, most of them a species I was not interested in catching. I smiled and kept casting, believing that eventually a bright and curious human being would come by.

Assuming you, my friend, are also seeking mutually supportive intimacy in your life, you’ve also been doing your own form of “Rejection Therapy.” I can only hope your recovery period is significantly less than my current two and one half weeks. The next time you’re turned away, consider seeking a different kind of people to play with, or even a new place to fish.

In case you enjoy such things, here are a few parting thoughts-

“you only catch fish when your line’s in the water.” -a smart ass guide watching me trying to untangle my line from a tree that wasn’t supposed to be there

“Fail faster to succeed” one of those catchy quotes for entrepreneurs who don’t have a clue what it really means.

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you’ll find your prince, or princess for that matter” -probably some smart grandmother type comforting a forlorn granddaughter or grandson.

Be happy, it’s a choice!

Tio Stib Signature

You might also enjoy: A Mirrored Smile, Seattle Sun

The Love Game, For Guys Only

For ages, men have been trying to figure out how women’s minds work, with little success. Although I’ve had my share of failures dealing with the enigma of women, I’ve discovered an approach to intimate relationships that offers some hope. I’ve concluded that if we men simply look at female relationships as a game, there’s a way we can occasionally win.

It’s called “The Love Game,” and here’s how it works-

As soon as you get involved with a woman, she starts keeping score. She puts your name on an imaginary scoreboard in her head and puts 1000 bonus points beside your name. Why? I don’t know, perhaps she wants to give you a chance at winning a game you’ll most likely lose.

Now, the fun begins, as she starts scoring everything you do against those 1000 points. She keeps a running tally, adding points when you do something she likes, taking points away when you don’t.

Yes, it’s a game for her, “The Love Game,” and it’s high time you know what this game is about, because most of you guys are losing it.

First, what are the rules of the Love Game and who makes them up?

Rule Number One: women make the rules. Unfair you say? Absolutely, but don’t think you’re going to change that before the proverbial freeze in hell happens.

Rule Number Two: The rules have never been written down. At least, never have all the rules been written down. Some have, but these have often been replaced by rules that have not. Confusing? That’s the way women want it. Unfair? See Rule Number One.

Is it possible to win a game with no definite rules? Yes, certainly, sort of. Remember that women are keeping score and basically you just have to keep doing more things they like than things they dislike. Of course, you can do something she really, really dislikes which could put you in a negative points situation, but no need to dwell on that.

How do you know if she likes or dislikes what you’re doing? Admittedly, this can be a challenge. It can depend on whether or not you smile at the right time, or the wrong time, what you said to your mother-in-law when she showed up unexpectedly at your door, and more likely, the position of the moon relative to a remote Mayan pyramid. Difficult you may think, no, impossible, but, again, let’s not get hung up on imponderables, rather let’s consider relationship realities.

Let’s talk curves.

I’m heartened to know that my male readers immediately jumped into a fantasy world of female delights, but those are not the curves I want to explore, at least not now

I’m talking about the shape of the infamous “Bell Curve.”

For those of you who think “statistics” is simply using numbers to figure out who’s going to win Saturday’s football game. let me raise your I.Q. a fraction.

A “Bell Curve” is the statistical shape created when plotting the typical distribution of activity performance over time. Consider New Year’s resolutions. We start out with little interest in such things, then we get nagged by conscious or partners to change things, we put a sudden burst of energy into the weekly conditioning program, we start feeling better, we start to slide and miss gym time, until eventually in a few weeks, maybe even months, we’re back on the couch doing our sloth imitation.

If you plotted out time in the gym versus time from the beginning urge to the final sloth recline, you’d create a “Bell Curve,” with the top of the bell reached when we maxed out our regular exercise and the bottom of the bell when we stopped.

Okay, so much for the statistics side trip, what do “Bell Curves” have to do with “The Love Game?” Surprisingly, such curves paint an accurate Picture of most males loving actions over time in loving relationships.

Consider energy and money spent against time. Once the guy thinks he’s got a shot at getting what he wants, he jumps in hot and heavy, putting lots of energy and money into making sure things work out. This is called the courtship period, where guys do whatever it takes to get whatever they want. What could guys want so much to command such extreme behavior? You can answer that, or if you’re stumped, ask your six year old niece. She already knows that much about men. Needless to say, this urge has plagued men for eons, and women know it. Perhaps that’s why they give us those first 1000 points.

Suddenly,something amazing happens.. When, by some fluke of chance, women decide to give guys what they are lusting for, male behavior radically shifts. There is a leveling off of energy and money men spend on relationships. men discover that they can still get what they want even when they stop paying for it. They start watching football games on Saturday instead of washing the little lady’s car, and she doesn’t seem to care. Now, the last side of the bell curve falls into place as basic male laziness sets in and the attention men give to their love relationship rapidly falls. guys begin to slouch on the couch

The delusion begins. Men now assume they’ve got it made. They start thinking a few nice words on occasion and “She” will just keep pumping out the love. “Great meatloaf, Honey,” and she’ll keep making those fantastic chocolate chip cookies.

No, Vacuum Brain, this fairy tale will soon explode like a well shaken beer..

But wait,there’s hope, even for those whose diminutive brains have sunk below their belly buttons.

Strangely, women have come to expect this behavior. In fact, they’ve even learned to accept that men’s minds are obviously limited,. For unknown reasons, women have chosen to give the lesser gender latitude for their foolishness as long as male homo sapiens will at least do a few minimal things.

Men, please pay attention here! This is how you win “The Love Game.”

If you simply remember to do nice things on four special days, most women, not all, not always, will forgive minor transgressions and keep your “love Game” score positive.

What are these “Special Days?”

Birthdays. Anniversaries, especially weddings. Mom’s Day. And, of course, Valentine’s Day. Christmas is a given. Only a real loser forgets Christmas. If you’re one of those, I can’t help you. I suggest you consider getting a dog instead of a lover. Your odds for affection are much better with man’s best friend.

Really, it’s that simple guys. You jusµµt remember to do nice things on those four special days and you can usually win “The Love Game.” Now that’s a absurdly small investment of your time to produce a return that would have Wall Street bankers drooling. A mere matter of hours, on four days over an entire year, to get a loving woman who puts up with your laziness every other day and still does your laundry.

Yes, you can still screw things up. You can still do something so stupid that she furiously wipes your name off her “Love Game: mental scoreboard and you’re out on the couch, or worse. Such things as giving her a lawn mower for her birthday, going to the hockey playoff game with your buddy Hank on your wedding anniversary, or getting drunk and calling her boss a bigoted slob at the company Christmas party, etc..

Sadly, male stupidity has no limits. But, I’m hoping this lesson on how to win “The Love Game” will awaken some long dormant brain cells and spark loving actions to minimize the inevitable damage that will be done by your basic instincts.

If you fall short and your “Love Game” score drops through the floor, check out my next blog post, “The Ultimate Romantic Gift, or how to recover from your inevitable love disasters. “

Now, get out there and win one for all Menkind, my dog and I are rooting for you!

Tio Stib Signature

Note to the woman who might read this: Yes, I admit it’s arrogant and foolish to pretend I know anything about how women’s minds work, but perhaps this post will inspire some man to at least try playing “The Love Game” himself. Okay, I also admit it’s foolish to expect men to read more than three paragraphs on improving loving relationships. I’m working on a comic strip that sends the same message.