Dorien Grey's

Blog

A Young Dorien


Dorien's blogs are being reposted on Tuesdays and Fridays

at http://doriengreyandme.blogspot.com/.  They will no longer
by posted on this page as that seemed like an unnecessary
duplication.
Earlier blogs can also be found as an ebook
from Untreed Reads and at Amazon;
there is also an audio book edition available at Amazon/Audible.com.
Cover of "Short Circuits"


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Dorien's blogs are now posted at
http://doriengreyandme.blogspot.com/;
this page will no longer be updated.

Friday, August 3, 2018
Hands Holding a Candle
The Candle

Please believe me—I do not want to become a bitter old man muttering oaths under my breath and swiping at passing children with my cane. But I am sincerely growing increasingly concerned about how bitter I am becoming. I don't want to turn into a nasty curmudgeon people cross the street to avoid. But it's like being in quicksand: the harder I try to free myself, the further in I sink.

Perhaps it is just that bad things weigh more heavily on the mind and sprit than do good things and tend, with every passing year, to become more and more the consistency of hardening concrete.

How can I—how can anyone—escape being aware that we are becoming a society utterly consumed by a pathetic fascination with the rich, the beautiful, and the famous? Our worth as individuals—often in our own eyes—is measured against those three criteria: wealth, beauty, and fame. A "celebrity" suffers a hangnail and the world gasps in horror and shock. Flowers and messages of support pour in. Mary Jenkins, a supermarket clerk in Olathe, Kansas, is brutally murdered in her home in front of her children and the news doesn't make it past the next county.

Have I been under a rock for the past ten years? Who the hell are these people who rule our popular culture--these preening, posturing poseurs whose unknown talent totally escapes me? What constructive, positive things have they ever done to help improve humanity? Why should their peccadillos, their divorces, their scandals interest me in the least? (Well, they don't, of course, but surely, surely I have to be missing something, somewhere!)

Why are we glued to "reality" shows—awash in vacuous young rude, obnoxious foul-mouthed—but filthy (the operative word) rich bimbets and with flawless skin and perfect teeth but with a heads so hollow you can almost hear a the wind whistling between their ears—which couldn't possibly be further from reality? Why do people listen to—and far, far worse, obviously totally believe—the purveyors of ignorance, bigotry and hate posing as "political analysts," pundits, and talk-show hosts on egregiously un-fair and un-balanced media like Fox News?  (Actually, Fox occasionally displays some bitter humor. You can be sure, for example, if, when reporting on a home-grown terrorist, they discover that the perpetrator's great grandfather had voted Democratic in the 1928 election, it will be brought out as incontrovertible evidence of guilt.)

The problem is that it is so hard not to be bitter when things that should be so simple and self evident are twisted and skewered and turned inside out at the whim of anyone with a perceived axe to grind. Becoming bitter is a particular danger for romantics, who really want and fully expect to see goodness and courtesy in others and who never really develop the rhinoceros hide most people don in order to deal with the world. The more one yearns for a world of puppies and cocoa with marshmallows, the more prone one is to be disappointed and hurt by gratuitous evil.

The seeds of bitterness grow slowly, but the trees that spring from them are almost impossible to fell. And worst of all, there is no joy, or hope, or promise in them.

And yet, for all my very real concerns, for all my inability to comprehend why the world works the way it does, or why there is so much soul-crushing stupidity and bigotry and greed and so little compassion and common courtesy, there remains, underneath the accumulating layers of cynicism and distrust which threaten to smother me, the belief in good and our ability to somehow...somehow reverse all this negativism; to somehow put the genie back in the bottle.

And as long as humanity has hope, however unrealistic it may seem, we will survive. For in the raging tempest of existence, hope is our one small, inextinguishable candle providing a beacon in the vast night.

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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.



Tuesday, July 31, 2018
A Dejected Pogo
"Mine Enemy Grows Older"

It’s not often one gets to make reference to raconteur Alexander King, Walt Kelly’s Pogo, and Dorothy Parker in the same sentence, but I’ve managed. The title of this particular blog is taken from King’s 1958 book of his personal observations on aging. That I and so many others appear to look upon aging as continuing battle brings me, of course, to Walt Kelley’s marvelous comic strip character’s astute observation that “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Which, in turn, sparked the memory of a classic exchange in the long-running feud between the inimitable Dorothy Parker and socialite Clare Both Luce. At one point, a friend said to Dorothy, about Clare: “But you know, Dorothy, Clare is her own worst enemy,” to which Dorothy replied, “Not as long as I’m alive, she’s not.” Scotch-tape the references together, and you have the story of my life.

I am and have always been my own worst enemy, my bitterness against aging and against myself easily rivaling the enmity between Parker and Luce. It stems from the fact that, all evidence to the contrary, I am a perfectionist. I can and do accept flaws in others that I cannot and will not tolerate in myself. Actually, it is a particularly perverse form of hubris. A great part of me has never matured beyond the child’s assumption that he is all-powerful, and that everything that happens in the world is somehow related to him.

As a result, I am incredibly easily frustrated when something—anything—does not go as I think it should. And when that something directly involves me, frustration often quickly spirals totally out of control, sending me into a self-directed rage.

Though I’m not a psychiatrist, I would suspect that masochism, the self-infliction of pain, has a mental component, and I fully if regrettably see that quality all too clearly in myself. I am constantly measuring myself against others and falling far short.

Regrets are a part of the human condition; we all have them, and they cause us a great deal of suppressed sadness and pain. But for the mental masochists among us, the emotional scabs which inevitably form over the incident are constantly being picked at and reopened.

I can clearly recall embarrassments and shames experienced from childhood and throughout life, and they often for no reason I can determine suddenly pop into my head. I can also recall too clearly the pains I have caused others; the things I should have done that I did not do; the careless and thoughtless things I would give anything to change. And, of course, these flaws build up over time like the individual snowflakes in a life-long snowstorm. The older I get, the more oppressive they seem.

So why, exactly, do I insist on dragging out all the skeletons in my closet and frantically waving my dirty laundry in front of you? Perhaps as a part of the mental masochism thing, but I would prefer (I am also very good at self-delusion) to believe it is because, once again, I do not think I am the only human to have this problem. There are many things in life which, though common-to-universal are, like certain bodily functions, considered too private and personal to talk about. So I like to think I do it to assure others who feel the same way that they aren’t alone. It may simply be yet another form of self delusion but, hey, I’ll take it.

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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; apologies for missing Friday.



Tuesday, July 24, 2018

"Back to School!"
The Chaos Kid

Okay, students: today's assignment is to select four words which best encapsulate/summarize your outlook, experience, and level of emotional development. It's a fun and telling exercise, and I'd enjoy hearing what you come up with.

Choosing my own four words was relatively easy: 

1. chaos |kay-oss|, noun: complete disorder and confusion; Physics behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.

2. contradiction |kon-tra-dick-shun|, noun: a combination of statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another

3. egocentric |ee-go-cen-trick|, adjective:  centered in or arising from a person's own existence or perspective

4. melodramatic |mel-o-dra-mat-ic|, adjective: characteristic of melodrama, esp. in being exaggerated, sensationalized, or overemotional

Putting them in order of influence may be a bit harder, since they often change position with little or no advance warning, depending on circumstances, and there are large areas of overlap and interaction.

Mild chaos rules my life. I am never completely sure of anything and there is so much going on at the same time, and on so many levels, that any sustained form of order is next to impossible.

Contradiction is an integral part of chaos and colors most of my life. I am, for example extremely insecure, bordering on needy, while at the same time utterly convinced that I have some special talent or ability which gives me authority to influence other people's thinking and outlook. I often sincerely frighten myself with my self-loathing while at the same time being utterly convinced that I am somehow very special, and my view of the world is the way everyone should view the world.

My egocentrism, which is pretty tightly interwoven with my other three key words, is rather like the 800 pound gorilla in the room, dominating these blogs and almost everything I write. But I really like to think that my apparent self-absorption really isn't so much a matter of that I think I'm so special (which I am, of course, as are you) but simply because I am the only human being for whom I can speak with any degree of confidence. My assumption that you share many of my views is total egocentrism; however, I find validation in the fact that you're reading my words now.

Because I still react emotionally to the world largely on a child's level, I've always been given to melodrama. Its air of unreality adds spice to my life, and I like to fool myself into thinking it allows me to vicariously experience feelings I cannot express. I do feel emotions deeply. And yet, ironically, no matter how intensely I feel—no matter how very much I might long to really, really cry, or cheer, or dance...there is something within me that does not allow it, and no matter how turbulent my inner emotions, externally I stand like a pillar of salt, watching others do so easily those things I cannot.

And there you have it: the four words—chaos, contradiction, ego, and melodrama—that underlie almost everything this writer…this one human being...does, or says, or writes. I do encourage you to take a moment to think of four words upon and around which your own life is built, and I, for one, would be delighted to hear them.

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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.



Saturday, July 21, 2018


Dorien in Athens
Dorien, lower right, in Athens
When Then Was Now

Every now and then I like to go back to the letters I wrote my parents while in the Navy—and which have been published in e-book form as A World Ago—a Navy Man’s Letters Home, 1954-1956, to see what I was doing on the same date nearly 60 years ago. I found this, and thought I’d share it with you. (The “Lloyd” referred to was a shipmate on whom I had a terrific crush, even though he was totally and irredeemably straight. Needless to say, though I’d been gay since the age of five, I had to be very careful not to let it be known.)

6 - 7 May, 1956

Dear Folks,

After several days’ silence, I rise from the dead and take pen in hand once more.  Today is the Greek Easter. Today is also the morning after the night before, though I am quite proud of myself, having come through the entire ordeal with what I consider “flying colors.”

Lloyd and I went on tour yesterday.  The tour got over about three thirty―we got back to the ship at five minutes to twelve.  Between the hours mentioned came God only knows how many bottles of wine.  If it hadn’t been for the goodness of three Greek sailors, we probably never would have gotten back.  We met them in the subway, and stayed with them a couple hours.  A grand time was had by all.

I suppose I should be ashamed of myself―I’ve been spending far too much money, but who cares?  This will be the last good liberty port we will hit until we return home.  Which reminds me―did I mention our month’s extension?  Now we’re not supposed to get back to the States until July sometime.  (And then again, I heard today that we’d received another dispatch canceling the extension.)  Oh, well, think what you will.

The guide we had on the tour did not have the gift of narration that would have been so helpful―I knew more of the legends and mythology than he, and carried on a sort of secondary running commentary on whatever he said for those who didn’t understand what he was getting at.  Still, it was interesting to see what I’ve been reading about.

And here it is still another day―I have developed a muscular tic in my left arm, which is going to town at this minute.  It only goes away when I concentrate on it.  There―it’s gone.  It will be back.

The weather here has been from warm to mild, with occasional showers and cold winds in the hills and mountains.  Other than that, it’s been excellent.  I shot another two rolls of film on the tour Saturday, and so when I get home we’ll have to spread them out over several evenings.
I got a kick out of mom’s saying that the sea air might harm the film―they are inside a steel box in a metal locker three decks down in a steel ship.   They never even see daylight, let alone salt spray.

Tomorrow we leave Athens―it doesn’t seem possible that we’ve been here a week.

Someone has donated a tape recorder, to which we are now listening―the current selection is a classical gem called “Who Put the Devil in Evelyn’s Eyes?”―a question which remains unanswered through the entire three minutes it takes the vocal group to ask the same question one hundred thirty-four times.

Later this evening Lloyd and I are going to play canasta―for which we bought two decks of cards.

You know, Saturday night we tried to figure out just why it is we should be such good buddies―I’m not the kind to have tons of friends―in the Navy, anyway.  I came to the conclusion it is because he is everything I am not, or would like to be, rather; and he looks up to me for some reason; I’m a combination of big brother and conscience.  At any rate, we get along.  Besides, I always wanted a brother.

Oh―now they’ve got a real tear-jerker―a “mountain-William” with the heartrending repetition of the phrase “Dawn’t let me hang around if yew dawn’t care.”  (Excerpt from a conversation―highly intellectual―about  the new records of a friend―“Man, they got some terrific stuff―Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb―man, that’s fine music.”  The horrible thing was that he meant it!)

I’m getting several members of our little group highly irritated.  Now, I fully believe that “to each his own”―but why THAT?

                                             Love
                                                Roge

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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--Saturday, this week.




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.

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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.

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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
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.

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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.

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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
Understanding

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.

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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.



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