Dorien Grey's


A Young Dorien

Dorien's blogs are being reposted on Tuesdays and Fridays.  You can access additional blogs

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Last Will and Testament
Where There's a Will...

There’s that old saying, “Where there’s a will, there are relatives.” And anyone who has ever gone through the family feuding and squabbling that far too often goes on when a close relative dies knows it can be a pretty ugly experience.

When I was a child, my father’s side of the family—a dysfunctional lot at best—held an annual family picnic which would invariably end up in just short of a general brawl over the disposition of the belongings of some distant family member who had died years before.

No one likes to think about death. There is a built in hands-over-the-ears, La-la-la-la reaction to shut out the thought. We are conveniently able to convince ourselves that our own death is a long, long way off. No need to worry about it now. Well, it may or may not be a long way off, but unless you’ve prepared for it, you’re dumping a whole lot of potential extra grief on those closest to you at exactly the time they are least prepared to deal with it.

If you don’t want to be a burden on others while you’re alive, why should you suddenly dump the responsibility for trying to guess what you want done with your affairs after you’re dead?

Make a will—and keep it as simple as possible. While you can do it all by yourself—there are forms available on line—it’s preferable, if for no other reason than peace of mind, to have an attorney familiar with your state’s laws do it for you. I was executor of my friend Norm’s will, in which he bequeathed varying sums of money to at least eight different charities. Because each beneficiary must be notified in writing and given a considerable amount of time to respond, sign papers saying they will not be contesting the will, etc. before the estate can close, this delayed the closing of Norm’s estate by several months. Had he simply given me, as executor, written instructions as to whom he wanted to receive how much when the estate closed, I could simply have written them a check and been done with it.

Do not only make a will, but leave separate, detailed instructions for the executor of that will and anyone else you think should know the contents, outlining your wishes…in writing…from funeral arrangements to the disposition of your possessions. If you want Cousin Beth to have your grandmother’s tea set, say so in writing. Don’t put her in the position of creating bad feelings among or, worse, open conflict with other relatives who might also want it.

State laws vary. In Illinois, for example, there is an “Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care” which lets you name someone — your agent — to make decisions about your medical care if you can no longer speak for yourself. The form lets you set down your wishes regarding organ donation, life-sustaining treatment, burial arrangements, and other advance-planning issues to help your agent make these decisions. Go on line to check out the laws of your own state.

Remember that any Powers of Attorney you may have which allow a specified person to make financial and/or health decisions for you, end at the moment of your death. When Norm died, even though I had had his Powers of Attorney and was the executor of his will, the nursing home in which he died was not even obligated to—and in fact did not—notify me of his death because my Power of Attorney had ended. State laws undoubtedly vary, but the executor/Power of Attorney holder, in Illinois at least, cannot even authorize the release the body to the funeral home—that must come from the next of kin.

Be sure to let everyone know, in writing, your pre-death wishes regarding such things as whether or not you wish to be resuscitated should your heart stop. These “DNR” (“Do Not Resuscitate”) forms are often requested or required by hospitals. Be sure you have signed one. If you wish to be an organ donor—and why would you not? You’re beyond need of them, and they could save the or improve the lives of others who desperately need them—make sure you have a signed Organ Donor card in your billfold or purse!

Think back on your own experiences with the death of a loved one; especially if you were he one charged with making the arrangements following the death. Remember the trauma and the confusion and the pressures and the tsunami of details, then do everything you can to make sure that when you die, those responsible for making these decisions need not go through more than they need to.

This blog started with an old saying and will end with another: the problem with life is that no one gets out alive. No matter how we wish not to think about it, you won’t. I won’t. Just be sure that when the time does come, whenever it may be, you’ve done whatever you can to prepare for it and made it as easy as possible for others to deal with.

Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover for Short Circuits Vol. 2

Dorien's blogs are usually posted every Tuesday and Friday, but I missed Friday. My apologies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
A Bar Code
The Price

The “gift of life” is not actually a gift: it is a balloon-payment loan which can be rescinded at any time.

It’s been said that no one can fully understand something until and unless they have personally experienced it. This is certainly true of me and growing old, and it is only as I grow older that I have realized that the longer one lives, the more expensive the “gift” becomes.

In my mind and heart, I am somewhere in my mid-20s—that time when mind and body are both young and work together effortlessly. However, after reaching a certain age (which varies from person to person), one becomes increasingly aware that the gift of life does indeed come with a price tag.

The mirror and the calendar tell me I am 81 years old. I can accept the fact that I have lived 81 years, but there is no way possible that I am 81 years OLD! I sincerely believe that am, sadly, a young man trapped in an old man’s body. And as such, I am forced to watch, in something akin to horror, as my mind and body lose their effortless synchronization. My always-serviceable, always-dependable body becomes less and less serviceable and less and less dependable.

My largely-unjustified vanity has turned against me and become a curse. I cannot bear to see myself in any reflective surface. I am truly embarrassed by my physical appearance and avoid social situations with people I do not know well, and even with them I am ill at ease. it may not bother them to be in the presence of an old man, but, oh, how it bothers me. I know it’s irrational and emotionally unhealthy, but I can’t help it. To inadvertently catch sight of myself reflected in a store window, never ceases to shock me.Who IS that person? Most certainly it is not me.

In an attempt at self-protection, I have developed the ability to have my mind step aside and become a detached, objective observer of my physical deterioration. To realize that I am as young today as I will ever, ever be does not help.

Having, more than a decade ago, adopted the namesake Dorien Grey from Oscar Wilde's novel, I find myself relating with the fictional Dorian Gray’s portrait. The residuals of radiation received 12 years ago, like the interest in a savings account, have accrued over time to render my entire mouth all but useless for the purposes for which it was intended. My speech is nearly unintelligible—to others and to myself. And although my salivary glands were destroyed by the radiation, my mouth still manages to produce great quantities of liquid which, with my head permanently bent forward by radiation-induced arthritis, pools in the front of my mouth, causing me to drool frequently without my even being aware of it. Whenever I try to speak, the liquid pours out. This horrifies and embarrasses me, and as a result, I almost never speak.

I cannot whistle, run, or—having totally lost my senses of taste and smell within the past year or so—eat more than two bites of any solid food, and I’ve lost the ability to even care. I now take all my nourishment in the form of liquid nutritional supplements—exactly the same thing  in exactly the same amount every single day. And because there is absolutely no pleasure in even trying to eat, I don’t.  It gets a more than a little boring.

Of course, I don’t have to worry about becoming obese.

The price you will be charged when your balloon payments start coming due, and what forms those payment may take can’t be known until they begin. There is no one set price. What I pay is almost certainly not what you will be charged…but you will be charged.

And after saying all this, I will willingly continue to pay the price for the gift of life as long as I can afford it.

Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover of Short Circuits Vol 2

Dorien's blogs are  posted every Tuesday and Friday.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Classic American Goulash

I never cease to be fascinated with how the mind—and, of course, my mind specifically—works.

I admire those whose minds and thoughts are like a well organized closet where there is a place for everything and everything is in it’s place. Mine is much more like a “Help Yourself” bin at a yard sale. Thoughts suddenly appear from absolutely nowhere, and disappear just as quickly.

I was thinking about goulash this morning (see what I mean?). And that thought immediately took me back to my childhood, when goulash was a frequent meal, and was often served (in my household, at least) when guests
came over for dinner. America was just emerging from the Great Depression, 
and times and money were still tough. In 1938, the year I turned five, the minimum wage was reset by the government at twenty-five cents an hour; the average annual wage in the United States was $1,750.00. I’d imagine that’s just about what my father made as a manager-training instructor for the Western Tire Auto Company. My mom didn't work at the time...I'd just recovered from a badly broken leg which required her full-time attention, and I was a pretty high-maintenance kid at best.

Goulash, just in case you don't know, is an extraordinarily flexible and nourishing dish.  It is most usually made of beef (Mom used hamburger because it was cheaper—less than 20 cents a pound), onions, stewed tomatoes, and almost any other vegetables you have on hand, spices--primarily paprika powder, without which goulash is not goulash--and pre-cooked elbow macaroni. It originated in Czechoslovakia, where the word means  "mishmash," and depending on how it's made it can be considered a soup or a stew.

My folks, still under 30 in 1938, had lots of friends, all of whom were in the same financial boat as they. They'd get together often, and social gatherings then consisted mainly of just friends sitting around talking, or playing games. I don't remember that beer, wine, or any type of alcohol played as much a part of social life as it does today. And very frequently, friends would just stop by, unannounced. If it was near dinner time, or if they stayed until dinner time, Mom would make a large batch of goulash. If there was any left over, we'd have it for dinner the next night. And if someone else showed up while she was cooking, it was easy to just add a little more water, or toss in more cooked macaroni or whatever happened to be around.

My family was what was considered "lower middle class," but I was completely unaware of it. To a child, whatever conditions you're used to are, simply, the way is—you don't miss what you’re not aware of. Goulash was to me what prime rib or filet mignon or lobster tails was to those more wealthy. I was largely unaware of the financial pressures my parents were under, or the sacrifices they made for me. It is with considerable shame that I remember the time my parents had to take the money from my piggy bank to buy something they did not have enough of their own money to cover, and how angry I was with them. You have no idea how I wish I could have my parents back, even for an hour, to tell them how much I appreciate what they did for me.

I'd love a bowl of my mom's goulash right about now, and to hear the talk and laughter of friends long gone. But that's all right: all I have to do is close my eyes and open my heart, and they're here.

Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover of Short Circuits Vol. 2

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday.

Tuesday, June 3, 2018
Rainbow Colors Overlaid with the Word "Pride"
Over the Rainbow

I am eternally grateful to my mother for giving me a fascination with and love for words. It was she, by reading me stories even before I was able to understand many of the words—though I loved the sounds—who opened the doors of wonder contained in those words.

From the time I learned to read, the library was a very special place. I got some sort of award while in first grade for having signed out more books than anyone in my class. Most of them were pretty elementary stuff, but among the first "real" books I remember were the Oz series, by Frank L. Baum. The most famous of which, of course, is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, from which the classic movie was made. I saw it when it was released in 1939 and though I was not yet six years old, it enthralled me then, and it enthralls me now.

Once I discovered that there was an entire series of Oz books--fifteen in all--I'm quite sure I read most of them if not all. I can still close my eyes and see them...outsized, as I recall, with thick cardboard covers with wonderful illustrations. To open them was to open the door to the imagination and all the wonders therein.

The fifteen books, should you be curious, were The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Road to Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Patchwork Girl Of Oz, Little Wizard Stories of Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, The Scarecrow Of Oz, Rinkitink In Oz, The Lost Princess Of Oz, The Tin Woodman Of Oz, The Magic of Oz, and Glinda Of Oz.

For a child (and later an adult) who never felt he belonged, books offered an escape from the world—and the restraints—of reality. The concept of the Oz books is that there is a special place, somewhere "over the rainbow" with enchanted creatures and wondrous fields and forests and cities where anything is possible. They acted like a magnet for my own imagination, and taught me that if I was not happy with the world in which I lived, I was free to create my own.

One of my favorite characters in the Oz series was a little boy named "Button-Bright," about my own age, who appears in several of the books. He got his name from his parents, who thought he was "bright as a button." I'm sure I strongly identified with him. As I recall, he was constantly getting lost, then being found, then getting lost again. Eventually, he moved to Oz permanently. I take particular delight, on looking back, to realize that he was a friend of Dorothy's, because a long-time code between gay men was to ask "Oh, are you a friend of Dorothy?" I certainly was, and am. And the rainbow about which Judy Garland sings in the movie, lent its colors and its symbolism to the gay community.

The Oz books contain all the ingredients required to nourish and enrich any child's imagination, as it did mine. They teach the child that the mind—the imagination—is not tied to the body; that it can go anywhere, do anything; that it can provide a refuge, a haven, when the real world is harsh and cruel. It teaches that there are other places, other worlds. Every book is an arrow, a path, a guide to where the imagination can take us.

In an inscription to his sister in one of his books, Baum wrote: "I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp, which when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward."

I'd take that one step further and point out that an adult with an imagination is still a child, and it is to the adult child that I have dedicated my own books. And so I embarked on a life-long journey to create my own arrows, my own paths, my own guides for others. It's been a wonderful journey, and I hope that when it is over I, like Button-Bright, often lost and often found, may move permanently to Oz.


Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover for Short Circuits 2

Dorien's blogs are  posted every Tuesday and Friday.

Friday, June 29, 2018
Cartoon of a Man Trying to Assemble Something

How human beings…well, let’s narrow that down a bit…how I…can possibly exist in this world, let alone accomplish anything constructive while in it is a total mystery. Actually, pretty much of everything is a total mystery to me. When it comes to the question of understanding—understanding anything at all—the answer for me is both simple and deeply sincere: I don’t. I never have.

Not understanding leads to frustration and too often sends me into a truly frightening spiral of self-loathing. How can I be so stupid as to not understand?

To make a list of the things I do not understand would take far more time than either you or I have, so what follows is a mere sampling.

Instruction manuals and directions of any kind are totally beyond my comprehension. I often cannot get further than a paragraph into them without becoming totally lost.

“Insert tab A into slot B. Multiply by the gross national product of Guatamala.” What?

“To continue, please enter an alternate email address.” What? I only have one email address! But they—whoever “they” might be—won’t let me proceed without one. What does everyone else do? I haven’t a clue.

How can there possibly be so much stupidity, hatred, bigotry, and mean-spiritedness in the world? What do these people use for common sense? How can otherwise intelligent, good people so readily believe the most blatant, illogical, transparently egregious lies.

I have developed a stoic acceptance of many things which I cannot understand: heterosexuality, for example. I was born of heterosexual parents; I live in a heterosexual world, utterly surrounded by heterosexuals. I like nearly all the heterosexuals I know as individuals, yet I do not understand their relationships.

I do not understand either the rules or the appeal of organized sports or organized religions. More death and misery can be traced to organized religion than any other single cause.

I do not understand why nothing is ever as simple as it should—and I expect it to—be.

I do not understand tattoos or piercings or how anyone could conceivably want to deface their bodies in either practice.

I do not understand how people can become so fixated on the personal lives of celebrities they have never met and never will meet and neither know nor care that they exist, yet so casually ignore all those around them who could use even such basic gestures as a smile or a kind word.

In truth, I do not always understand myself. Why am I not more kind, or more understanding, or more outgoing, or more patient, or work harder at things I want to accomplish? Why am I so self-critical—and so self-centered?

Life is a highway with an infinite number of detours and no road map, and each of us must find our own way as best we can. As I said at the beginning, I really understand almost nothing, and some 80 years down the highway, it is unlikely that I ever will; yet I find it an oddly noble human trait that I—that we all—somehow bumble through in spite of everything; and we do survive. I guess that’s all we can really expect.

Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover for "Short Circuits Vol.2"

Dorien's blogs are posted Tuesdays and Fridays.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Closeup of Old Jeans
The Past-Clinger

I just got out of the shower and began getting dressed, starting to put on the same pants I wore yesterday—the pants my friend Gary had pointed out to me as having developed a hole above my right knee; the pants that are also badly pilled from Spirit's claws having frequently gotten caught in them while lying on my lap.

I bought those pants, and four others just like them, when I was still living in Pence, in Northern Wisconsin. I bought five pair partly because whenever I go clothes shopping I can never find anything I like, and when I do…as with these pants…l stock up.

I moved from Pence nine years ago, and I’m still wearing the pants, alternating among the five pair. They are all showing their age. I’ve had to give up wearing one pair other than around the apartment because the pockets have frayed to the point where I can’t put anything in them without its dropping immediately down my leg and onto the floor. They each are in different stages of being frayed and pilled, and I should just pitch them all. But I simply cannot bring myself to doing it. Why?

Partly…and totally illogically…because of my strange sense of, well, loyalty. If something has served me well, I find it next to impossible to simply throw away as though it had never mattered. I’ve worn those pants while walking on the beach in Cannes, and wandering the streets of Pompeii. To throw them away is to throw away a tangible link I have to those places, those times.

Throwing away is ending. It is closing the door on the past, and I have always, always clung to the past for security. I truly do understand…and agree…that this is neither normal nor healthy from a mental standpoint, but I am powerless (or utterly unwilling) to change.

I’ve talked before of my attachment to…things. The little art-deco store-display statue of a lady with a real bakelite necklace. I’m sure I would never have bought it for myself, but Ray bought it for me, and each time I look at it, I think of him. It is, again, a tangible link to him. He touched it, I can touch it, and by the strange workings of my mind, touching it is touching him.

So many things are similar connections to my past; to parents and others who are no longer actually in my life. But tangible memories of them provide me with a hard-to-explain sense comfort.

I’ve often said, and take pride in the fact, that I never really feel lonely…and I realize that this is largely because I have surrounded myself with the tangible memories of so many things and people I don’t really need more.

The future is unseeable and therefore a source of uncertainty—we hope for the best from it, but have no assurances. The present is merely the vehicle which carries us from past to future. But the past is known. It cannot be changed. It is filled with a lot of unhappiness and sorrow, of course…all lives are. But we have the freedom of picking and choosing which parts of it we wish to deal with, and which to ignore.

And this entire blog has been written between the time I realized I could not wear that particular pair of pants, and this moment, when, pant-less, I must decide what pair of pants I will wear.

(Have I mentioned that I am not wild about decision making, either?)

And after all this is done, I must decide what to do with the pants that prompted this all. Maybe I can just wash them, fold them, and put them in a box somewhere. At least it will spare me the trauma of throwing them away.


Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover for Vol. 2

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday.

Friday, June 22, 2018
Dorien as Naval Aviation Cadet
Missing Me

While listening to the first segments of my in-production audiobook of A World Ago: A Navy Man’s Letter’s Home, 1954-1956 I once again grew nostalgic for the long-ago me. I’m still much the same in many ways; my sense of humor is exactly the same now as it was then. But what I no longer am is young. I remember the young me, and I miss him.

(Should you have any interest whatever in reading A World Ago, a compilation of letters written my parents while I was in the service, you can find it on Amazon or Untreed Reads.)

Here’s one entry from my early days as a Naval Aviation Cadet:

Wednesday, October13, 1954:

Today we saw a movie in P.T. on “How to Survive in the Tundra” (semi-arctic regions). It was one of those “how to survive on a broken compass and old fish heads” things.  I thought it was terrifically funny (though it wasn’t supposed to be).  Of course there were, among the six marooned men, several familiar characters.  There was a George Washington Carver who could whip up a tasty dish out of a bunch of rock lichen; a Daniel Boone type, who could (and did) trap everything from a lemming (a glorified field mouse―they are delicious) to a caribou which, unfortunately, they missed―they had set up an ingenious device with two twigs and a 90-lb piece of sod, but the caribou outsmarted them (not a difficult task, I assure you); and, of course, there was the General-All-Around-Genius who could make more things out of one lousy parachute than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio.  This latter genius also, in his spare time, made a dandy kite (out of the parachute, of course) for attracting airplanes―I expected at any moment to see him attach a key to it and discover electricity, but he never got around to it.

Now, to answer dad’s questions―I want just my one suitcase, so that when I come home at Xmas I’ll have something larger than my duffle bag to pack my things in.  Send them (or rather it) any time you want, just so it’s fairly soon. Yes, the band instruments are furnished, and I hope to stay on after moving to Corry or Whiting (which I’ll do on or about Nov. 26).

I surely am glad I joined the band!  I told you, I think, all about what we may get to do.  November 20 we are going to the Duke-South Carolina game (the Duke-Georgia Tech game would be too soon for us to be ready).  We will all be flown to Durham, North Carolina for it.  Last Saturday night we played for the Admiral at a football game, and he liked us so well he’s planned a “surprise” for us (which, it is rumored, may be a trip to the Army-Navy game!). Miami is still pending.  Nov. 11 we’re to lead a parade in Pensacola.  Four days before Xmas vacation, if all goes well, we will be flown to New York City to appear on “Toast of the Town”; then we’ll fly home from there if we want.  God, I’d give my life’s blood to get to New York for four days!!

Haven’t been doing much of anything lately except study―haven’t even gone to a show in two weeks!  Saturday morning we have band practice, but Saturday afternoon I hope to get downtown to pick up my picture.  I hope you like it―it will have to be hung as it is too large to put atop the record cabinet.

Did the movies come?  Have you looked at them yet?  The large blank space at the beginning is where I had written “Welcome to Florida” in the white sand, but it was evidently too bright.
Well, I’d better close for now.  I would appreciate your sending some money for new film.  (Note―this is the first time I’ve ever written home for money!  I’ve gotten $15 from you all the time I’ve been her, & that’s pretty inexpensive if you ask me).

I’ll try to write more this weekend.   Till then I am
                                                     As Always

Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover of "Short Circuits 2)

Dorien's blogs are  posted Tuesday and Friday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Circuit Board
Cassandra’s Children

There is a war going on. There always is, somewhere, of course. But this is not a war between nations or ideologies, but a war between human beings and the technology we have created, and it is a war we humans are surely losing.

It's not that we haven't been warned, time and time again, and shrugged or laughed the naysayers away.

We have, incomprehensibly, simply ignored the fundamental axiom that "fire makes a good servant, but a cruel master." Technology is our modern-day fire. And melodramatic as it may sound, the technology we created to serve us is inexorably becoming our master. We have already

reached the point where we, as a society, cannot survive–figuratively but increasingly literally–without our iPods and our smartphones and our laptops and the 450,000 "apps" available on our ever-at-the-ear cell phones. As we become more and more dependent on the things we have created–ironically intended to make us more independent–the focus subtly shifts from our using them to them using us.

And if that were not bad enough, technology makes it possible for bureaucracies to become ever more complex and difficult to deal with. Just in case this thought had never occurred to you, look around you any time you go out into the street, or into a coffee shop or restaurant and count the number of people glued to their electronic gadgetry, or pick up a phone to call a credit card company to ask a question or report a problem with your internet or cable service. And for the most part, we go along without question, like lambs off to slaughter. We may not like it, but we say nothing. We do nothing. We accept.

Melodramatic? Of course. But consider that 30 years ago, no one had a computer, and the world went on quite well. Now computers have become laptops which have become telephones and BlueBerries and BlackBerries and iPods and iPhones and smartphones and every day more and more come along to make our lives even more complex.
And the more reliant we become on technology, the more control we lose over our own lives and destinies, and increasingly we take out our building rage not on our phones–which, after instructing us to Press 1 for English in our own country, assures us every thirty seconds that our call is VERY important to whichever faceless corporation we are calling for help or information, while we are kept on hold for 45 minutes–but on each other. The feeling of utter helplessness that each run-in with the Frankenstein's Monsters we have created engenders the urge to lash out, which in turn leads inevitably to the Columbines and Virginia Techs and Fort Hoods. And each time we shake our heads and wonder how it could ever have happened.

One of my favorite characters in all mythology is Cassandra. The god Apollo fell in love with her and gave her the gift of prophecy. And after they had a falling out, because a gift given by the gods cannot be taken back, Apollo modified it so that while Cassandra was unerringly correct in her predictions, no one would believe her.

There are Cassandras among us today...there always have been. People who accurately foresee the future...if not in explicit detail at least in inescapable trends. And they are universally ignored until what they predicted has come to pass, and then it is too late.

There is a scene in the 1971 film, THX1138...Steven Spielberg's first...wherein a future society totally controlled by technology offers its citizens handy "Jesus Booths" where anyone can go for comfort. Enter the booth, and an image of Jesus appears. "What is your problem, my child?" The image asks, his face showing true concern and nods slowly, every ten seconds. Every fifteen seconds, regardless of what the human in the booth is doing or saying, it says "I see," and every forty five seconds it says "Could you be more...specific?"

I've often cited E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" and movies like Logan's Run as examples of perhaps only slightly exaggerated future scenarios. And what about global warming? And the dangers of overpopulation?

Ah, but what does it matter, really? There's not a thing I can do about it, after all. I'd just go watch some intellectually brilliant TV fare like Here Comes Honey Barf-Barf , but my cable is out and my call to the cable company is still on "hold" after six hours.


Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover for Vol. 2

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday--and again I am a day late. Sorry.

Friday, June 15, 2018
A Key and a Jigsaw Puzzle Piece

When I was in college, my best friend, Russ Hogan, used to say, "Margason, you're custodial" after I would make yet another in an endless string of goofs/gaffs/mistakes. Much of the criticism was (and is) based on the fact that while I understand and can fairly well define the word "organization," I seem incapable of practicing it. This situation has not materially improved in the years since.
Last week, someone was kind enough to ask me to do a guest blog for their site. I was of course flattered, as I always am by gratuitous acts of kindness, and immediately set out to do the blog. It is not due until later this month, so I set it aside for a few days. When I went back to work on it this morning, I realized to my horror that I could not remember for whom I was writing the blog, nor did I, therefore, have any idea of how to contact the person who had requested it! I frantically went back through past emails hoping to find our exchange, and cannot. Of course, my search was negatively effected by the fact that I have no fewer than 25,000 emails in my “In” box—I am also incapable of using the "delete" key if there's any possible chance I might want to go back to a past email—and was of course unable to find it. And unless I do find it, I will miss the deadline and the person who asked me to write the blog will, wrongly, assume that I just couldn't be bothered, and have every right to assume that I am not to be depended upon. This drives me absolutely crazy!

I never make notes, simply because at the time I should be making them, I know perfectly well what the note would be about and therefore don't feel I need one. It's the same with my keys, my wallet, my glasses, and almost anything I might have in my hand at any given time. I set them down knowing perfectly well at that instant where I put them, yet fifteen seconds later when I go to retrieve them, I haven't a clue.

Russ having sadly died several years ago, my best friend, Gary, is—like Russ—a former school teacher whose life revolves around organization. He constantly tries to convince me of the value of always putting things in a certain place so that I'll always know where they are. All well and good. But when I walk in the door with a couple magazines and a piece of mail I want to open right away, I'll set my keys down on, say, my dresser, and go to get the letter opener—which, of course, I can't find. So I pry up one corner of the envelope's flap, insert my index finger, and rip the envelope to shreds in the process. By that time, I'm not even thinking about my keys, and I won't think about them until next time I need them, at which point...well, you get the idea.

A key (no pun intended) factor in my not being organized is that I have never been a candidate for "Homemaker of the Year" award, so chances are good that whatever I'm looking for at the moment has been buried beneath something else (a stack of magazines, for example).

I am also cursed with a total lack of short-term memory. I spend an inordinate amount of computer time bouncing back and forth between windows simply because if I want to use a name or a number from one window in another, by the time I get to where I want to put it—all of three seconds—I’ve forgotten what it was, and have to go back to look it up. I've been known to do this five times in the space of thirty seconds.

When I was in the service, I took movies, which I had converted to CDs. Earlier today, I wanted to send the CDs to a friend. Can I find them? Of course I can't find them. I live in a very small apartment only slightly larger than a breadbox, and I keep all my CDs in one place. I look, and sure enough, they're all there...except the ones I want at the moment. Where in the hell can they be? Where can I possibly have put them? I know they're here, somewhere. But where?

Organization takes time, and I simply do not have the time to organize. I'm too busy looking for things.

I think Russ might have been on to something.


Dorien has a book of blogs, Short Circuits; A Life in Blogs; it can be ordered from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it is also available as an audio book. All those blogs have been republished here. Fortunately, Dorien wrote many blogs after that book; I will now be publishing those here--as we consider a volume 2.
Tentative Cover of Short Circuits 2

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday.

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