Four hundred and twenty-two

Date Month

I’m writing about the dreaded date month right now – the month that had me so exhausted by the end I almost fell asleep on an escalator going to see a movie, with my date holding me up.  It’s interesting reliving those dates now that I’m in a relationship and looking back on them.  I’m trying to put myself in the place I was in then and that was a crazy place!  It’s also hard to pick which dates I want to go into more detail about for the book.  They were all unique and had a great story to them, I could almost write a whole book just about that.

When I get frustrated I take a break and do something different to refresh my brain for more writing.  Unfortunately (and sometimes fortunately), my favourite couple from Caledonia told me all about the virtues of Netflix, which has turned into countless hours of watching full seasons of whichever television show I’m in the mood for at the time.  On the plus side, though, as I don’t have cable, I always felt out of the loop when people talked about Dexter or Breaking Bad.  Now I can join in on the conversation.

Recently, I’ve tried to watch educational films or shows to keep my brain working – there are some great documentaries – and came across a series of TEDTalks about Love and Relationships.  I’m researching and being entertained!  They were all fascinating, but one in particular really fits into the topic I’m writing about this month, so I thought I would share with you all what I learned.  This is a talk by anthropologist Helen Fisher about love’s evolution, biochemical foundation, and social importance.  Here are a few points and opinions I found interesting:

TEDTalk – Helen Fisher: Why We Love and Cheat

  • Being madly in love is the same part of brain that reacts as when someone is high on cocaine
  • We have three brain systems: sex drive (to look for love), romantic love (to focus your love), attachment (to be able to tolerate this person long enough to raise a child together).
  • There has been a rise of romantic love: 91% of American women and 86% of men will not marry someone that has every single quality they are looking for in a partner if they’re not “in love” with them.  (No wonder dating in the city is so hard!)
  • Casual sex is not always so casual.  With orgasm you get a spike in dopamine.  Dopamine is associated with romantic love, then you get a real rush of oxytocin associated with attachment.  There is a sense of cosmic union after you make love.
  • Helen Fisher believes we’re not meant to be happy, we’re meant to reproduce, so the happiness we do find we make ourselves.
  • Why do you fall in love with one person rather than another?  Timing; proximity; mystery – you fall in love with somebody who’s somewhat mysterious in part because mystery elevates dopamine in the brain, which could push you over that threshold to fall in love; he/she fits in to your “love map” – an unconscious list of traits you build in childhood as you grow up; you gravitate to complimentary brain systems.

I find the whole concept of how are brains and emotions interact fascinating.  Is love something magical, or is it just a series of brain systems and chemical reactions?  Or maybe it can be both?  How do we find love in the city if there are always a hundred other choices out there that will create different reactions in our brain?  It’s probably why many of my friends have a hard time finding a partner.

TMI Award

I want to start off with a short story.  During my vegan month I posted a list of vegan travel websites and blogs that I found useful, with a short commentary on what to expect from each site.  For one of the sites, I made a comment about how that particular site had great information, but to beware that it was hard to navigate and ugly to look at.  The owner of the site sent me a very long e-mail saying, among many other comments:

I’ve never seen a blogger criticize the layout of other people’s sites. That goes outside the scope of what bloggers do…
Bloggers should promote positivity!

She goes on to say “I feel really hurt that you would post such a negative comment about my site when you do not even know me” and “bloggers usually just post comments about helpful info or their own experiences.”

I agree bloggers promoting positivity should be valued, but I also agree that being honest is just as valuable.  Constructive criticism and  talking about topics openly and critically are important.  I’ve never been one to shy away from the truth of how I feel, and people can either love me or hate me for that.  My blog is also structured to be read by everyone – not just vegans or bloggers, and I was offering advice of other useful websites to use to find out more information, with the pros and cons of the sites.  (We left the whole exchange on good terms after a couple of e-mails, by the way)

Before I get into my concerns with the TMI Award, I want to say specifically to Pink that I am not ungrateful for your mention of me –  I just think it’s important that these things are not just accepted as what is in the “scope of what bloggers do” and are critically discussed.  Pink Ninjabi you are an amazing, supportive person and blogger.  Your comments (among a couple of other people, including the eloquent Barry Sullivan) have helped push me forward while writing this book and I appreciate it more than you know.

For those of you not in the blogging community, the TMI award is passed around between bloggers to honour those “blogs that discuss everything in detail and do it well. These bloggers aren’t afraid to discuss their most awkward, embarrassing and intimate experiences with honesty, humor and little to no filter.”  There are rules to it: thank and link back to the person who nominated you, share an awkward, embarrassing and intimate story in 250 words or less, and present the award to 5-10 other deserving blog.  It’s a way for bloggers to support each other within the community and direct readers to other blogs of interest.  I think this is great and important to help each other along.  And I am proof that I wouldn’t have been able to get through my year and the writing I’m doing now without the encouragement of my readers.

I am a little worried, though, that the TMI Award has become more of a blogger spam than a way to support each other.   It’s been around the blogging community so often, I think everyone has received it and I’m not sure it has value anymore.  I’m sorry to all you bloggers out there who like this award – I do sincerely love that you are brave and can really share your lives with the world.  And I do think promoting other like-minded blogs to your own is important.  But I’m not one for passing on things “just because” or for not sharing my honest opinion.  I worry that it excludes those readers who are not bloggers themselves, and makes blogging less inclusive and more elitist.  Perhaps it’s time for a revamp of the TMI chain?

I totally agree with promoting others bloggers, though, so below are a few blogs that I find interesting, exciting, informative, or just fun, and I recommend reading.  Those of you I’ve mentioned, continue the TMI Award trend or don’t – it’s up to you.  Those of you bloggers reading this, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get in trouble with you.  I’d love to hear your opinion and have an open discussion about the TMI Award system.  I am always up for hearing others people’s opinions and adapting my own.  Sometimes we all only see one side of the story and more knowledge helps open us up to see the other side of the coin.

The Traveling Waitress – love her!  So much information on traveling as a woman.  And she blogs too.

Personally Speaking – a personal blog by Marlo Van Mackelberg, who’s been through a lot and has come out on top.  She’s also a beautiful writer who openly shares her heart and often brings a tear to my eye.

What’s Past is Prologue – my favourite photography blog, sharing his life in New York City through photographs.

Oh She Glows – I can’t go without a mention of my favourite vegan food blog.  I know I mention this site way too often, but I just love the food, and I love that she shares her ups and downs of cooking and life along with it.

One Tiny Starfish – I also can’t go without mentioning my cousin’s blog.  She is the first person I knew personally to take blogging seriously, and now devotes her life to helping people in need around the world.  I remember my mother often telling me to read my cousin’s blog because she shared so many personal details about her life.  I always said I’d never be that open online, and look where I am now.  Thanks Nik.

7 thoughts on “Four hundred and twenty-two

  1. Really interesting facts about love… maybe that explains why I fall for people so easily – all that mystery and the chemicals just cranking away in there! As for your comment about the other blog’s layout… falls into the category of commenting about your own experiences (on that blog), right? The point of a blog is to get information out to others, right? So if my site isn’t doing that effectively, I think I’d like to know as well. I had a similar experience after trying a recipe from another site labeled as easy peasy, and it was awful and time consuming, and I mentioned in my blog how I felt mislead in the description. I, too, received a comment back about how could I bash that site and that I probably did something wrong, etc. Oh well. (After a second recipe from the same site didn’t work out for me, I’ve just stopped pulling recipes from it.)

    • Just looked at your blog. I need to make that strawberry-orange pie! Yum!

      I agree. I think constructive criticism is important. And blogging is about sharing your experiences and being honest – especially to your readers. Nobody wants to be led to a site where a recipe is more complicated than it says, or that a travel site is hard to navigate, without being warned. I guess there are so many sites out there, you can just avoid the ones that aren’t good for you. But I think it was good that you were honest and mentioned it on your blog!


  2. Great post on love and the brain. No wonder us single girls need a glass of wine at the end of the day! Don’t know how you did it for a month straight. Much respect.

    • Thanks! I found all of the TED talks on love interesting. It’s fascinating how love and science are connected. Love is such an intangible thing and yet a lot of it has to do with how our bodies, minds and chemicals react with each other. With a little magic thrown in, I think! 🙂

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