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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Old Side-Loading Toaster

On Dreams

I’ve devoted several blogs to dreams, and how much I enjoy them. I particularly like story dreams, or musical dreams, or flying dreams, or those which seem terribly profound at the moment. Well, last night I dreamed of toasters. All night. Nothing else. Just toasters. Waking up for a bathroom break, or from a loud noise outside didn’t interfere. The minute I went back to sleep, it was back to the toasters.

I can’t even say I spent most of the time contemplating the history and cultural impact of toasters. I didn’t. Just the two basic types of household toaster with which I am familiar: the old-fashioned kind where the side flipped down to allow you to put the bread in (and which only toasted one side at a time), and today’s slot-type. I’ve not seen a fold-down toaster in many, many years, so perhaps, in reflection, it might all have represented some deeply subliminal longing for the past, in which my mind spends so much of its time. Possible, but I think it was just about toasters.

There was a building in there at one point…a huge, solid, windowless circular building like one of those gigantic gas storage tanks, with a wide and ornate band of decoration (Corinthian column caps and elaborate bas-relief scroll-work of some sort) at the top, painted bright purple and green and silver. (I am nothing if not stylish, even in sleep.) What it had to do with toasters or anything I of course haven’t a clue, but it was there, so assume it had its own reasons for being there. That I have/had no idea of what that reason may be is irrelevant.

Other than that, there was no story, no plot, no people, no music, no sound at all. No particular emotions…frustration, boredom…associated with them. Just toasters.

I have friends who claim they never dream, which of course is impossible, and friends who claim they never remember their dreams. I feel rather sorry for them. Dreams are among the greatest of mankind’s gifts, and reflecting on them and their meaning is a form of active relaxation I truly enjoy. And given my already tenuous relationship with reality in any form, reflection on dreams is perhaps more important to and common with me than with others.

Dreams are a form of game the mind plays with itself, made the more interesting by the fact that the game has no rules.

Of all the things I do not understand—and the list is endless—how and why the mind works the way it does is pretty high up on the ladder. And to consider that there are six billion or so people on earth (Go, Breeders!!), each one assumedly with his or her own dreams, remembered or not, gives depth to the phrase “mind boggling.” But again, it’s fun to speculate on.

And now it’s time for breakfast. Not sure what I’ll have. Toast sounds good.

This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are usually posted every Tuesday and Friday; I missed last week as I entertained
a visiting friend. My apologies.

Fraiday, November 17, 2017
Closeup Photo of a Single Snowflake
God's Snowflakes

I was waxing poetic the other day, as I am wont to do from time to time, pondering possible subjects for this blog. As always, I focused most strongly on myself, and considered doing a steeped-in-humility one about just how very special I am. Smugness was about to set in when one of my little mind voices (one of the many traits I share with my series protagonist and alternate-universe me, Dick Hardesty) casually observed, “Yes, you are indeed one of God’s snowflakes.” I don’t know if it was being sarcastic; as with Dick, my mind voices seem to be there mainly to bring me down a peg when I need it, and this little observation was yet another reality check.

I am indeed as unique as a snowflake. But then I epiphanied (it is so a word! The dictionary just left it out) that I am only one of seven billion-plus unique snowflakes. It’s been important to me, all my life, to think of myself as being somehow special, to counter the overwhelming evidence presented daily by the world and myself that I am in fact nothing much. This is a reluctant acknowledgement rather than a realization, and long before the epiphany I had often questioned whether I am really as special and unique as I think I am.

Logic has always strongly dictated that the answer to that question is a resounding “no.” And whereas I carefully chose the word “special” to describe myself, I’m well aware that, in my case, at least, there are any number of other words which could be substituted for it—“strange” or “weird” being among the more charitable.

People with self-esteem issues, among whom I of course number myself, seem to have a very real need to think of themselves as special as a shield against the world. For me, it validates the feelings I have had since I was very small—and I will take validation anywhere I can find it. Of course to feel special is more than a little frightening, in that it isolates me even more than I already am from others. Ours is a species which finds comfort in belonging, and part of my feeling special stems from my need to compensate for the feeling of never belonging. Being special enables me to choose with whom I am close, thereby lessening the sting of being the last kid chosen when sides were picked for games. Largely, I have chosen the ones to whom I feel close: family, a few good friends. But in almost any large group of strangers I am very much aware of being an outsider, and it is not a comfortable sensation.

I’m quite sure that having been gay from such an early age undoubtedly underlies these feelings. I, and all homosexuals, live in a world of heterosexuals, and with majority comes power and arrogance. Heterosexuals, consciously or subconsciously, simply assume superiority over those who are not heterosexual, and never let anyone forget who rules the roost. Yet though I have been, since the age of five, overwhelmed, battered, inundated, and all but drowned in a raging, roaring sea of heterosexuals, to this day I do not understand them, just as many of them do not understand me. But then, since they are the vast majority, they don’t have to understand me.

One of the negative aspects of feeling special is the realization that if I were indeed as different as I think I am, I’d be better able to control those things over which I have no control: time, for example. I have always had an obsession with time. I am always excruciatingly aware of its passing and that, much as I may deny it, my days, like everyone’s, are numbered, and one day time will cease for me. Therefore every second when I am not doing something I consider constructive is one I consider wasted. As the past piles up higher and higher behind me, containing more and more of the people and things which were so fundamental a part of my existence, I become more and more frantic. (Listening, as I am at the moment, to music from my childhood, only acerbates the feeling.) Nearly every time I play computer solitaire, as I was just doing, I become increasingly aware that the moments I spend on it were lost forever, and I had to stop playing and begin writing this.

So I totally ignore the fact that I am only one snowflake among a blizzard of others, and concentrate on the unarguable fact that I am indeed unique and therefore special.

This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are usually posted every Tuesday and Friday;
I was delivering Dorien's family photos this Friday to his cousin Tom.

Friday, November 10, 2017
Two Men Dancing

Mark Twain pointed out that Man is the only animal that blushes…or needs to. Being embarrassed is one of Man’s odd little traits, and usually results from our being placed in a situation that challenges our self-confidence. Therefore, those of us who don’t have much self-confidence to begin with are particularly vulnerable to it. I find myself being embarrassed far more than anyone could possibly be comfortable with.

There are, of course, many degrees of embarrassment, from mild to severe. Mine sometimes surpass severe to excruciating. And I have the annoying tendency not to be satisfied with merely being embarrassed over the things I do, but for others.

Our beloved former President George W. Bush regularly did things…other than putting his foot in his mouth with astoundingly stupid remarks…that made my skin crawl with embarrassment: his insistence on doing little dance numbers to show he’s “cool” and “with it” is a frequently-repeated example.

But sometimes my embarrassment on the part of others is considerably more benign.

When my parents and I were in Hawaii, we took a boat trip up Hawaii’s only navigable river, heading for the famous Fern Grotto. Now, my mom and I were very much alike in many ways, one of which was the intense dislike of doing things simply because we are told to do them, but go along with it rather than stand out as being a party pooper.

Anyway, the gratingly effervescent guide (I think being effervescent is a job requirement), as we were gliding up the river, declared that it would be great fun for all the women on the boat to learn the hula.

Mom loved to dance, but she did not want to learn the hula. Still, she stood up with all the other women and followed the guide’s extended-arm, hip-swinging motions. I could see on Mom’s face that she hated it, and I was embarrassed for her.

I am frequently embarrassed for various performers who really are not very good at what they are doing, or for people who are, like Mom was, called upon to do something they really, really would prefer not doing.

A primary source of embarrassment for me, other than my total refusal to think before I say or do something I never would have said or done had I thought first, is in doing things I would truly love to do but can’t—such as anything requiring physical dexterity or grace. Probably the primary example of this is dancing. There is nothing more beautiful than watching someone who knows how to dance. But I simply cannot and will not do it (well, a slow dance with a good partner may be an exception).

At least I know the source for this particular problem. When I was about eight, I went to a birthday party of a girl in my neighborhood, and her mother announced that we would all now dance. Dance? I had never danced in my life! I was horrified. And when she started pairing up all the guests…all the worse, it was boy-girl…I was well-past embarrassed, and several stages beyond mortified. It was a truly horrific experience, and I’m sure it affected the rest of my life.

Like my character Dick Hardesty, I often have little voices in my head (no, no, not that kind of voices). One just chimed in: “Oh, for Christ’s sake, Roger, get over it!” I wish I could.


This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
"What Are You Afraid of?"
Phobias Redux

Probably everyone has phobias: things they fear or which repulse them to one degree or another. There are almost as many phobias as there are things to be phobic about, some of them very exotic and exotic-sounding. (I love “triskaidekaphobia”—fear of the number 13—for example.)

Some are very common, though we may not immediately know their names: Arachnophobia (Fear of spiders), Pteromerhanophobia (Fear of flying), Atychiphobia (Fear of failure), Catagelophobia (Fear of being ridiculed), Cynophobia (Fear of dogs), and Dystychiphobia (Fear of accidents) among them.

Other phobias range from the truly strange to the downright bizarre: Ephebiphobia (Fear of teenagers), Bibliophobia (Fear of books), Anthrophobia (Fear of flowers), Chromophobia (Fear of colors), Genuphobia (Fear of knees) and the “duh” of phobias: Phobophobia (Fear of phobias).

I only have three that I can think of, two of which fall into the second category, though I don’t know their Latin names, if they have one: I will not use anyone else’s toothbrush, and assume I’m in the vast majority on this one. But I also won’t use bar soap anyone else has used. (I know…it’s soap, for Pete’s sake: there aren’t any germs on it. No, but when wet it is slimy and I do not like slimy.)

But my primary phobia, and one in which I take some sort of perverse pride in its uniqueness, is against rings. I shudder even to think of them. I’m fully aware that hundreds of millions of people wear them, and I don’t mean to offend anyone who does. It’s just the way it is for me. I am, to the best of my knowledge, the only person in the world to have such a phobia.

Exactly how and why people develop phobias is pretty much a mystery. A lot of them, of course, are based on some traumatic personal experience with the object feared, but how and why dislike turns into a phobia isn’t clear (at least not to me).

I figured out long ago that my fear/abject loathing of rings is deeply rooted in and related to my rather odd views on human sexuality. I don’t think I have to explain that to my mind the finger is the…uh…and the ring is…well, you know…and I am so totally homosexual that the very thought of heterosexual sex makes me mildly nauseous. Again, apologies to anyone that statement might offend, and I realize that it makes me just as bigoted as those heterosexuals who express revulsion over the idea of two men having sex. I will definitely resist that inane cliché: “Some of my best friends are straight.” As are all my relatives, most people I see on the el, and nine out of every ten people on the planet. So considering those odds, sometimes I think I put a little more of me out there than you might be comfortable in seeing.

My phobia against rings was with me long before I figured out the symbolism. On my 17th birthday, my dad bought me a very nice ring. He knew how I felt about rings before he bought it, and he was deeply hurt when I refused to wear it and he had to take it back. I remember that when I first saw it, my initial reaction was embarrassment and shame. To my subconscious, I’m sure it implied he thought I was straight. I really felt bad for hurting him, but…well…he knew.

So phobias are just another of the myriads of little bits and pieces that make us all human, and which differentiate us, one from the other. Back to you, Dr. Freud…


This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Man's Hand Wearing a Wedding Ring

My Garden of Phobias

We all have phobias…things which inexplicably and irrationally frighten or repulse us. I admit that I’m somewhat protective of mine. I’m not overly fond of snakes, for example, though I’ve gotten far better about being able to look at them from a safe distance. But that’s pretty much a garden-variety phobia, shared by probably the majority of people on the planet, so I can’t take any special pride in that.

\I don’t like tattoos or body piercing. The former I’ve come to grudgingly accept since so many people nowadays have them. But it had been my personal experience with people sporting tattoos that there seems to be a definite correlation between the number of one’s tattoos and the number and severity of one’s emotional problems. One tattoo is fine; a couple are okay, but beyond that…uh…, no thanks. Body piercings give me a severe case of the crawlies and are a slamming-door turnoff.

I have a phobia against using a bar of soap other people have used. (I know—it’s soap: soap kills germs. Yeah, but wet soap can be kind of slimy, and I don’t like slimy.) I don’t like tasting food from other people’s forks or spoons or plates, or drinking from the same glass, can, or bottle—though I will do it if necessary in order to avoid appearing rude.

Okay, so a lot of my phobias are, indeed, fairly tame and shared by a lot of other people. But I claim to one phobia which sets me far apart from anyone else. I really hope my explanation of it will not convince you that I am totally ‘round the bend, though I am aware it might well offend some, and if so I am truly sorry. But the purpose of this blog is something akin to a pre-mortem autopsy, exposing parts of myself which may well better have been left unexposed.

I hate rings. My totally irrational antipathy towards them ranges from distaste to downright revulsion. This, if you will, is my prize hot-house orchid of phobias. To this date, I have never encountered another human being who shares it with me…though I’m sure there have to be some, somewhere. My reasoning may be seen as teetering dangerously on the brink of psychosis, but, hey, it’s mine and I’m stuck with it. Let it suffice to say that to me, the combination of ring and finger represents heterosexuality, and as a homosexual, I rebel against that concept.

For those who doubt my admittedly strange reasoning, I refer you to the wedding ring. Nothing more clearly albeit silently screams: “Heterosexual” to the world. Madison Avenue is painfully aware of the message of this symbol and uses it at every opportunity to subliminally say: “Hey, you can trust me! I’m just like you!” The number of men displaying wedding rings in commercials is far out of proportion to the number of men who actually wear them. And you will never see a TV commercial in which a man is shown to be alone with a small child unless he is wearing a wedding ring. Doubt me? Watch.

Which brings us to a little epiphany which came when I wrote the sentence about teetering dangerously on the brink of psychosis. I realized for the first time that my biggest, totally irrational and inexplicable phobia—the one which has fundamentally affected my life—is: heterosexuality. I mean no offense to the 9 out of every 10 people who happen to be heterosexual. I in some odd way fear it and look upon it as some sort of threat (which, given the historic treatment of homosexuals by heterosexuals, is not unjustified). I react to it, I realize, somewhat less strongly than I react to rings, but I have never understood it and am as generally uncomfortable around it (with the exception of my heterosexual friends and family) as many heterosexuals are around homosexuals. It’s not something I’m proud of, but the fact is that it exists, it’s an integral part of who I am. And now, thanks to this blog entry, I know it.

And now you know, too.


This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are posted Tuesdays and Fridays.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Moose Club Near Rockford, Illinois
Role Models

My parents belonged to the Moose Club, and when, on a Saturday night, they were unable to find a baby sitter for me, they would take me along. I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about these forays, since there was very little for kids to do. I’d spend most of my time in the large reception room, doing what I cannot remember. There were never very many other kids there, if any at all.

The large main room, where the adults gathered, had a bar and a dance floor with a constantly-playing juke box, and it always seemed to be crowded. I’d wander in only occasionally to ask my folks to get me a Coke or just out of sheer boredom.

Now, I was probably nine or ten at the time and already was well aware that I was fascinated by young men and desperately wanted to be like them. And one night there were two young men at the club. They may have been college boys or, since WWII was raging at the time, perhaps in the military: I can’t recall. What I can recall is that suddenly the dance floor had cleared and there, in the middle, were the two young men…dancing together! Not slow dancing, of course…jitterbugging. Everyone stood around clapping and laughing. I’m sure it was, to them, the equivalent of a truck driver dressing up as a woman at Halloween: really, really funny, you know? If anyone had thought for a nanosecond that the young men were dancing together because they really wanted to dance together, they would without question been ejected from the club and risked being seriously beaten.

But to me…!…I had never seen anything more wonderful in my entire life. Two men! Dancing together!
Children have and need role models. Most little boys want, at one time or another, to grow up to be a fireman, or a policeman, or a soldier or sailor…uniforms somehow seem to fascinate boys, probably because they represent authority, something every child subconsciously wants to have.

But when it comes to specific individuals children can look up to and aspire to be—a sports star or actor or singer or someone in public life, until recently gay children have been completely denied role models—someone they knew was like them. To be identified as openly gay was the kiss of death for any public figure.

When I was a child, the only time homosexuals were even mentioned was derogatorily, in a context of utter scorn or contempt. The only time they were portrayed on screen—and even then never specifically identified as being homosexual, but, then, they didn’t have to be—were as effeminate, prissy queens whose only purpose was for comic effect. (Sort of the equivalent of the few black actors allowed on screen…Stepp’n Fetchit-type visual jokes.)

As late as the 1950s, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness. Yet it seems to have occurred to no one that telling a gay child that to be gay was to be beneath contempt may very well have created exactly the mental problems they were accused of having.

The slow but steady emergence of actors, singers, politicians, and even a very few sports stars (interestingly almost all lesbian) from the closet speaks well for the progress we have made. And yet that the same people who now accept us once scorned us leaves a bitter aftertaste.

But we’ll get over it.


This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday.

Sunday, October 29, 2017
"Let the Secret Out"

I find it amazing, with six billion people in the world, that there is still room for secrets…that there is sufficient privacy for things no one else ever knows, or sees. Yet we all have our secrets, great or small, which we guard zealously.

I have one or two which I would/can never share, but I came across a couple I’ve been holding onto for 60 years or so that I might as well ‘fess up to.

Ever since a little girl jumped on and broke my leg when I was five, I have gone to great lengths to avoid anything that might result in physical pain. I have also mentioned that as a motor moron, I have always loathed and avoided sports, probably partly due to the same fear of being hurt.

As a result, I dreaded gym class. When my parents bought a new house that necessitated my changing junior high schools I determined that I would do anything I possibly could to avoid having to take gym. On about the third day of gym class, I reported to the coach that I couldn’t find one of my gym shoes. He told me I had to go find it and not to come back until I did. I took him at his word and never went back. I’m can’t remember what I’d do during the time I was supposed to be in gym, and I have no idea how I possibly got by with it, but I did. I never told anyone about it; certainly not my parents, not even my friends.

And when I moved from junior high to high school, I had to come up with another excuse to avoid taking gym. The plan I came up with was actually pretty shameful and I’m still rather embarrassed by it today. And on reflection how I ever got away with it is still a mystery.

I went to my family doctor’s office and told his nurse that I was corresponding with a pen-pal in England…which I was…and that since England had socialized medicine they were unfamiliar with the American system. I asked if I could have a couple sheets of Dr. Edson’s stationery and envelopes on which to write my friend.

She gave them to me, and I took them home and composed a letter excusing Roger from gym class on the grounds that he had a rare form of bone cancer. I’m sure my “careful” forgery was patently obvious to anyone who even glanced at it, but for some reason, when I handed it to the school nurse, she accepted it, and I spent the hours I should have been in gym in the nurse’s office.

How did I come up with these things? How did I get away with it? Who knows. And again in retrospect that I would have used cancer as an excuse to get out of gym is shameful.

But again, I never told a single living soul until this moment. I think I was terrified that if anyone found out what I’d done, they would demand my high school diploma back. I’m glad they didn’t.

My secrets, compared with those other people carry around with them, are totally insignificant, but it still amazes me to think of how stupid/naive we all can be, and how capricious life is in calling some of us out for a minor infraction while letting others sail through life on a sea of lies.

This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are usually posted Tuesday and Friday; I missed this Friday for reasons too boring to share.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I do not handle frustration well. I do not handle many things well, but that’s fuel for a future blog.

One would think that having spent a great portion of one’s life being frustrated, one would become used to it. One would be wrong.

I’m sure 20 years or so on an analyst’s couch, sorting though the myriads of colorful and sometimes odorous details which make up every minute of my life, would produce the conclusion that my problem rests with my absolute conviction that the universe revolves around me, and that therefore I should have complete control over everything at all times. Well, we can save the 20 years because I know that already.

The problem lies in recognizing something on an intellectual level and acknowledging it on an emotional level. My logic and my emotions are continually in a pitched battle over which will have control. Were I you, I would not place much money on logic.

Logic tells me I am a reasonably intelligent human being, and with that thought comes loud and raucous laughter from my emotions. The simple fact is that I have never, ever been in complete control of my emotions, which as I have often said never really got beyond the “terrible twos” stage of development. When I want something, I want it, and I want it now and can see no reason why I cannot have it.

That I have never understood life, my place in it, or how I am expected to react to also plays a large role in my own little civil war. I see the world, emotionally, pretty much as a toddler sees it. If it’s pretty, I want it. And I do not take “no” for an answer. My logic, which spends a great deal of its time shaking its head sadly and sighing, does its very best to explain what it has learned of the world through reading and observing other people. My emotion totally disregards it. I’m the center of the universe, fer chrissakes! How can things not go the way I want them to?

How can everyone else on the planet with 1/10th my intelligence (ego, anyone?) do things with total, effortless ease, get it right the first time and, most insulting of all to my emotions, not think a thing of it? They wouldn’t write instruction manuals, or give careful, full-color illustrated “Insert Tab A into Slot B” directions for assembling a cardboard box if anyone else but me could not understand them.

And once something…anything…triggers my frustration response, all bets are off. My mind totally shuts down to the point where I would be hard pressed to tell you my own name. All rational thought ceases.

I know full well that frustration is a part of life…I’d imagine even you experience it from time to time. But everyone else seems have a built in mental safety switch which I do not have, and which kicks in, allowing them, after perhaps a moment or two of distress, to recover, calm down, and get on with their lives. I can best describe my reaction to frustration by comparing it to pictures of the World Trade Center collapse. Total, utter, instantaneous destruction with no hope for anyone’s survival.

I find it ironic that my totally disproportionate emotional reaction to things which trigger my frustration is directly related to my totally disproportionate sense of my own importance. Because I am the center of the universe, how can this be happening to me? How can I be so stupid? My frustration quickly, like the falling towers, dissolves into rage and self loathing so intense it often, and sincerely, frightens me.

It just struck me that this blog may be an attempt by my logical side to subtly convince my emotions not to overreact so strongly. Unfortunately, it’s never worked before, and I wouldn’t hold my breath on its working this time, either.


This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday. 

Friday, October 20, 2017
DC 3 at Midway Airport

When I was old enough to go in to Chicago by myself, I’d start getting antsy the day before in anticipation. I’d not sleep very well that night, and wake very early on the day of the trip. I’d catch the Greyhound bus at the Hotel Faust (Rockford’s 11-story skyscraper and classiest hotel), and be off on my adventure.

When I took my first trip in an “airliner” (a 21-passenger DC-3) with my mom from Rockford to Chicago’s Midway Airport (O’Hare didn’t exist yet), probably around 1950, I was an anticipatory basket case for days before we actually went.

When I first began going into gay bars, I would be horribly embarrassed by the fact that I was so nervous…anticipating what the evening might hold…that I would literally shake. More than once I had to explain to someone who was bold enough to talk to me and noticed my shaking that I had a chill.

I’ve always been big on anticipation, even at times when I would prefer not to be, such as now. I’ll be on my way to Rochester, MN as soon as I post this entry, for my six-month checkup following my successful treatment for tongue cancer. I have done this more than a dozen times, now (for the first couple years after my release, I was on a three-month-checkup schedule). Every time I have gone, anticipation starts setting in a week or so before my exam.

August will mark five years—the magic milestone beyond which one is considered to be “cured,” and I’ve gotten a clean bill of health every exam thus far. I have no reason at all to suspect that this checkup will not go as well as all the others, but that logic does not keep me from being beset by anticipation. What would I do if…. But then I realize that if there were an “if” I would deal with it just as I did the first time. I would look on it as a horrendous and disruptive inconvenience, but have absolutely no doubt that I would get through it just as I did the first time I got the diagnosis.

Anticipation is simply a part of being human, though like everything else having to do with our species, the degree varies from person to person. I sometimes ponder the totally moot question of whether, if one should accept an offer to know the future, it would be a good or bad thing. It didn’t turn out too well for Cassandra and I suspect, tempted though we all are to know what lies ahead, it’s just as well we can’t know what will happen until it happens. (I, for example, do not want to know when I will die. I want it to be a total surprise: and preferably a “boo!” moment where I’m gone before I can worry about it.)

We all tend to waste an awfully lot of time on anticipation, which often does not live up to its press, particularly when it is anticipation of something unpleasant. The time and unhappiness we put into anticipating a visit to a dentist is almost always far out of proportion to the actual visit itself. But even realizing that doesn’t seem to have any effect on the fact that we will do it anyway.

I had a friend who had frequent attacks of severe heartburn, and each and every time he had one, he was convinced he was having a heart attack. The fact that the last 47 episodes had passed without incident did not forestall him from the certainty that the 48th was a heart attack. I always tended to be derisive of him. But then, he wasn’t going to Mayo for a checkup.


This blog is from Dorien's ebook 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:
Cover of "Short Circuits"

Dorien's blogs are posted every Tuesday and Friday.

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