Department Of Quarantine Reflections
Sub-Department of The Neurobiology Of Love
“Neuroscientists have studied madly-in-love folks, putting them in the fMRI machine…. The parts of the brain that ‘light up’ while looking at the lover are the same brain areas activated by cocaine—the reward centers. These researchers concluded that love is like a drug.
… The chemicals of early love: testosterone (the hormone fueling the sex drive in both men and women), dopamine (focusing on ‘that special someone’), and oxytocin (the bonding hormone/neurotransmitter)….in early love, the critical part of the brain goes quiet…
Crazy in love is a temporary state; the brain can’t stand the intensity forever. At some point the critical parts of the brain come back online, and we see our partners, warts and all. The jazzed-up chemicals settle down, and our drug high gives way to a calmer brain state. Romantic love, researchers find, yields to a tamer version, called companionate love….
Many couples are deeply disappointed when their romance fades into a more sedate version. They crave the high of early love, dopamine and all. Some have affairs, or divorce and remarry, seeking another hit of the drug. But eventually the new relationship will become old….
‘I still love my wife, but I’ve fallen out of love with her,’ a man said to me recently. He’s missing the hit of the drug, and is thinking of looking elsewhere for that love high again. To my mind, ‘falling out of love’ sounds so passive—like falling into a pothole! I propose a more proactive view of long-term love, in which both partners work to create a great relationship. Once the initial glow wears off, the real work of loving begins. The stakes are high; while happy relationships are associated with health and longevity, the stress of an unhappy marriage can result in illness and earlier death.”
(“After the Thrill Is Gone: The Science of Long-Term Love,”
Mona Fishbane, PhD, writing on goodtherapy.org )
“That warm, fuzzy feeling…called limerence…refers to the intense, involuntary attraction we feel during the first stages of a romantic relationship. Limerence is often characterized by intrusive thoughts (we can’t stop thinking about someone) and a need for reciprocation (we can’t stand the thought of being rejected by someone).
Limerence has a biological basis. When we are first attracted to someone, our brains release chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine, which make our hearts flutter and make us feel happy.
The feeling of limerence can last for weeks or decades, although most people start to feel its decline within a year or two of starting a romantic relationship. As we form a lasting romantic bond, dopamine and norepinephrine stop flowing. They’re replaced by hormones associated with social bonding, like oxytocin.”
“Heart-racing romantic feelings fade over time — here’s why,”
Rose Wesche, Assistant professor, Virginia Tech,
Department of Human Development and Family Science.
Although more and more people are becoming vaccinated, the health care, social, psychological, and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will linger for some time. Perhaps it’s too early to be in “look back” mode, but since I have been fully vaccinated, moiself’s mind tends to go there. “There” includes bits of wisdom I attempted to impart to my offspring – when they were still in the nest, and then reminders  after they’d left – about the good which can come from hard times, including:
* realizing the value of resilience
* discovering, on more than a theoretical level, that you are (or can learn to be)
more resilient and adaptable than you may have previously thought.
In the past year+ I have been reading about how people got on each other’s nerves during the pandemic. Fortunately, there were also stories about how some lucky folks found new things to admire in their partners and family members. A particularly pleasant side effect of the pandemic for moiself has been the reminder,
Oh yeah, I married the right guy.
(Right for *me,* that is).
MH has simply been…easy to be with. I hope he found moiself as agreeable (or at least as tolerable) as I found him.
I don’t want to make light of what has been a trying time for all families, and very difficult for some. I also realize that, in this stage of our lives…well, things might have been way different if our offspring were not successfully fledged but were instead school age/living at home and we had to juggle both childcare and education responsibilities, and if our economic situation had been precarious and/or not amenable to working from home.
As fun (and also overwhelming) as the passion of the early times of a relationship can be, I have always and strongly believed that romantic love is overemphasized by our culture, and that relationships which prioritize that “romance” side of love above all else are doomed to fail, as the partners conflate the ebbing of romantic feelings with diminishment of the relationship. As per the research quoted in the above excerpts, romantic love by its very nature has a shelf life, determined in part by the sheer newness of getting to know someone as well as by the biological realities  which produce those over-hyped romantic emotions.
Although the following Life Advice ® of mine is unlikely to inspire cinematic tales of inspirational star-crossed lovers, it is, IMHO, essential:
Marry someone whose essential qualities and temperament make you think,
“This is someone I could stand to be quarantined with.”
To put it in terms of my own ongoing realization:
“More important than ‘being in love’ with this person
is the fact that I *like* him.”
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Department Of Back In The Saddle
Those who know me, and/or who have been reading this blog since before the pandemic, know that I am a fan of seeing movies in a movie theatre. While I am grateful for the many streaming services that kept us all entertained during the times of social/physical isolation, I am now Making Up For Lost Time. ® In the past five days moiself has seen three movies, in a movie theatre:
* A Quiet Place Part II
* Dream Horse
Abby the Emotional Support Avocado gives two thumbs up to each. 
* * *
Department Of Things Unlikely To Happen In My Lifetime
As part of my coming-out-of-pandemic mindset, I still like to think of such things, even if they are unlikely to happen. “Things” as in, solving the world’s pressing problems. “Things” along the lines of, what would happen If I Ran The World ® ? And by ‘running the world’ I do not mean moiself would be doing so as a queen or any kind of monarchist, ’cause y’all know how I feel about that.
Rather, If I Ran The World ® things would be like this:
* All nations would agree upon a “Marshall Plan” (or series of plans), to stop the damage we are doing to our home planet and for cleaning up the messes we’ve already made. Those coming up with workable solutions would be compensated (and celebrated) to the highest financial and “celebrity” degree.  Instead of being hailed for designing an app for more convenient shopping or food delivery or online gaming, the creative young (and older) engineering, artistic and scientific minds would be encouraged to pool resources and take up the various challenges (“Ok, our group will solve ground water storage and pollution; yours will do topsoil rejuvenation…”).
Components of this plan include coming up with solutions for
– renewable/sustainable non-polluting energy sources
– cleaning/filtering pollutants from our land skies and seas
– halting and reversing global warming
For example, in this if-I-ran-the-world scenario in no one would be using or manufacturing plastics anymore, but what about the bazillion tons of plastic refuse that already exist? Somewhere out there is an idealistic student, in the suburbs of Portland or the streets of New Delhi, who is eager to put her brilliant but unappreciated mind to work inventing or discovering a bacteria or other organism that eats plastics and excretes something useful – or at least non-toxic – in return (read: that doesn’t turn into the sci-fi movie bogeyman which is going to take revenge on us all).
* Daylight savings or standard time – we’d pick one of those for our clocks to be set to, year-round, and we’d adjust our work and school schedules accordingly.  The choice would be in agreement with what medical science tell us is optimal for the human mind and body.
* The percent of religious believers worldwide will continue to decline.
Religious believers may still cling to their creation mythologies and other dogmas: practitioners of the three major Abrahamic religions ( Christians and Jews and Muslims ) will be free to believe that the earth as it currently exists was created in six days 6000 years ago by their god, which then fashioned a man from dust/clay and a woman from a man’s rib; Hindus may believe in their various origins mythos, including that Brahma created the cosmos from a lotus flower which grew from Lord Vishnu’s navel with Brahma sitting on it, or that life in the universe came from the cracking of an enormous egg; Wiccans can hold that “the Goddess” birthed a race of spirits that filled the world and became humans, animals, plants, and all living beings; Scientologists may assure one another that Tom Cruise is the heir to Xenu’s galactic confederacy ….
Religious believers will be free to practice their beliefs as long as their doing so does not negatively impact their neighbors. For example, in the privacy of their own homes and churches, Christians will still be able to appease their deities through reenacting their Jesus-as-the-ultimate-animal-sacrifice ritual via the symbolic cannibalism of communion. However, there will be no governmental respecting of any religion’s theology, nor integration of such in public policy. Religious believers will still be able to vote however they please but will not be able to influence other people’s healthcare options, nor demand that public education incorporate their folklore about the origins of the cosmos as if those myths held equal weight to the geologic, biologic, and astronomical evidence.
* * *
Punz For The Day
French movie fanatics want to open a floating cinema in Paris, with drive-in boats!
I just think that’s in Seine.
Have you seen the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie?
It’s rated aRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
Why did Bruce Willis try to commit suicide with an overdose of Viagra?
He wanted to Die Hard.
What is the internal temperature of a Tauntaun?
* * *
May you appreciate those people you could stand to be quarantined with;
May you make plans *right now* to go to the movie theater;
May you start your own “If I Ran The World” list;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 “Reminders” sounds better than unsolicited life advice.
 Those romance hormones, like opiates and other “highs,” lose their potency as we develop tolerances to them.
 Well…Abby was a bit generous with Cruella, which needed at least 30 minutes of edits.
 Although I’d like to think the minds capable of solving our problems would not care about fame, it only seems fair that they’d be celebrated – and rewarded for their contribution to humanity – more than, say, the actor with the most Academy Awards or the basketball player with the highest field goal percentage.
 A bioregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area. Bioregionalism, as a governing philosophy, advocates that political, cultural, and economic systems to be organized around bioregions (which are defined through environmental features such as watershed boundaries, soil and topographical characteristics), rather than via the arbitrary and often unjust national boundaries established over the centuries via wars, immigration and expansionist policies, and desire for land acquisition and resource exploitation.
 Once every month or so, in order to maximize our productive times with the times of the most daylight, we would adjust our schedules to start or end an hour earlier or later, and such changes would be implemented with a week’s warning time: “Remember, next week/in six days School/work class begins at 9 AM not 10 AM.” We don’t change our clocks; we change our schedules. 9 AM is still 9 AM.
 The reality is that few of us will go on to use trigonometry, but all of us need to know how to sort out the overwhelming amount of data to which we are subjected in our daily lives, and how to determine what are valid stats verses what is being used to manipulate us (i.e., make us afraid).