Treu Love, Pt. 5

Bob shares a theory on the complicated desires people have for independence & intimacy, & how it relates to his path from dating to marriage


One of the things I was going to bring up was about a specific period. I had been dating a girl for about a year and when we broke up, I thought, “I’m going to forget about her; I’m going to date a ton of girls,” usually two girls at a time over the course of a year.

How do you manage this?

In the advent of online dating, it’s fairly easy to get, but yeah, it’s tough to manage.

They didn’t know about each other?

No. In the beginning, I didn’t have to stress about one specific person. I could just switch my focus and I didn’t have to really worry about it. It got to be really stressful after doing that for a while.

Inevitably, there are going to be conflicts that result.

We didn’t date for very long, just the initial sort of anxiety was easier to get over because I can shift my focus to something else.

Is this the longest time you’ve been without having a significant other?

No, I’ve been single for a long time. My first girlfriend I dated when I was nineteen. After we broke up, it was two years. Then, I dated some other girl and it was another two years, so it’s been a while.

And you’ve never been married?

No, which I am grateful for. I would like to. To go back to what you were saying earlier, “marriage isn’t the end-all-be-all.” It can be a cultural thing or a religious thing. For me, it’s both. I’d like to have a kid and I think that the best way to do that is being married so there’s some stability there. Those things seem really far off now right now, but it’s something I look forward to. I say that in almost the same breath as saying, “I’m dating two girls at the same time.” It’s this really weird conflict. You get the cognitive dissonance – I’m doing this just to see if I can get laid, but what I really want is this other thing.

Believe it or not, I actually have a theory about relationships based on my own experience. That is, there is something in almost all people that makes us want to be in a relationship, in close relations. And there’s something in us that wants a fair amount of space and doesn’t feel really comfortable in close relationships. It’s a contradiction at the heart of human relationships. Nobody talks about it much. You don’t want to talk about it with your partner unless you’re really very good at communicating! Boy, could that be misunderstood. In fact, a couple of times in my life, I felt I was not in the relationship.

Like we were saying about significant figures.

Yeah, that’s a hard way to put it, but I think it’s true. The third person that I was very close to and talked about broke up with me by e-mail! I was going to be away teaching in Germany on a Fulbright. We talked about how this relationship would resume when I got back. Instead, she just felt that I had not committed myself to that relationship. It’s very hard to win that argument if you’re on the other side of the ocean.

That’s a really good point — what you were saying about space and proximity. You can’t be in relationship without being spatially close. It’s tough.

I have written a memoir of my life up until I married my first wife. It even includes a little bit of the marriage and certainly a lot about me.

Are you going to make a part two?

That’s a good question, but I did it primarily for the daughters and grandkids to get an idea of all the crazy stuff that happened in my life. There’s a whole section about high school when I started becoming interested in girls. I have never, ever found the ability to walk up to a woman that I don’t know and utter something witty and say, “Would you like to have a cup of coffee or something?” Never happened. It’s remarkable that I reproduced. I don’t know how that happened, because I was totally clueless and frightened of the whole thing. I married a woman that I met in class. I married a woman that I actually had as a student some years before. The third person had been a student to people I have been really close to.


What Would Jesus Listen To?

Jesus-with-HeadphonesLent is a solemn religious observance of the forty days leading up to Easter, marked by (among other things) self-denial.  I gave up listening to music.  My hypothesis was that less listening would lead to more making.  That has not been the case.  The opposite may even be true.  I attempted to go about my days in silence when I could; no music at work, at home, or in the car. How dreadfully monotonous that was!

Here I’ve broken up music listening into three categories based on levels of engagement: 1) Background listening does not demand much engagement because it only fills the silence while other things are happening. 2) Intentional listening is the complete engagement in the music. 3) Participatory listening is the engagement in participating in the music, usually dancing or singing along.

Background listening  can be a distraction.  If I’m focused on a task and shift to listening for a moment, I may not get back to what I was working on right away.  Music may just add to the noise in already noisy environment as well.

Intentional listening can be a waste of time.  There are other things I could be getting done instead, namely writing music.  Relaxing with a pair of headphone on the couch is a reward for getting work done.  I’ll let myself listen when I’m finished with my never-ending to-do list. Also, why would I listen to music if I could play it?  That should be motivating.

Participatory listening didn’t really factor into my self-denial. I still sang, danced, and enjoyed concerts.  This is only a small fraction of my time, though, and has more positive benefits than negative consequences.

Giving up listening to music has been challenging!  Sometimes I need a musical distraction.  Please, shift my focus from this negative thought or stressful day.  Just boost my mood and get my blood flowing a bit.  Also, it’s  probably good for a musician to really immerse himself into listening — noticing new things about a favorite song and further inspiring creation.  Participatory listening could be encouraged — remember why music is fun.

I’ve allowed myself an exception: I can listen to new music to write about it here.  This limited background music is back in my home.  I’ve even discovered a good album for some intentional listening and a review.  And giving up music hasn’t all been bad.  I read a lot more of the articles I’ve saved and got back into the podcasts I’ve neglected.  After Easter, I’ll just have to pay attention to when I’m getting distracted and try not to procrastinate by listening to music. I’ll seek out more participatory listening opportunities, too, like playing music with others.

Finally, what would Jesus listen to?  Even though that’s the title of this post, it has not been the subject.  It’s catchy and I like the picture, okay?  It is an interesting question, though.  My impression is that Jesus was a participatory listener.  I’ve written plenty already, so you can ponder that and let me know what you think. Let me know what you gave up for Lent as well, if anything.

Dead Corner Protest

With interests in urban planning & music, I want to organize a big busking event on dead corners to get passerby ideas for better uses.

City Center Parking Lot
City Center Parking Lot at 5th Avenue and Main Street

Street intersections are places where people can cross paths and come together as potential hubs of activity.  Unfortunately, most activity at intersections is between automobiles.  Even more unfortunate is when the uses at the corners serve cars instead of people — becoming parking lots or billboard stands.

La Crosse is fortunate to have a pretty decent downtown.  However, most intersections have at least one dead corner, whether due to parking or not being open past 5 PM or weekends.  Wouldn’t it be great if those places came alive with musical performances?

I think so.  Having buskers set up all over downtown would be a sight, if only for an hour or so.  To get more public interest in invigorating these corners, performers can have a big poster or even written on the sidewalk with chalk. Phrases like “This [parking/vacant] lot could be …” or “Here could be…” or “It would be great if this place was open …” can prompt passersby to share their ideas.

While calling this Dead Corner Protest sounds more punk rock, I’d rather call it something positive like Live Lot Project  or Feedback Corners.  I’d also include a cleanup aspect to show that we care about these places.  Interested performers can contact me.


Top 7 Favorite Christmas Songs

my-presence-is-your-presentYesterday, snow fell lightly all day, making it possible to slide on the sidewalks in a sort of cross-country skiing way.  Across the street, lights illuminate a Christmas tree in the window.  It’s 16 days before from Christmas.  Some radio stations have switched over to playing all Christmas music, so I turned the dial from the usual classical music to get in on the spirit.  Most of the songs are good and almost all of them I know; some versions are better than others, but the crooners are hard to beat.  Here are the Christmas songs I want to hear:

  1. Let it Snow
  2. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
  3. Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  4. White Christmas
  5. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
  6. Walking in a Winter Wonderland
  7. Sleigh Ride

What are your favorites? Do you know which of these songs don’t even mention Christmas?