Wednesday, January 30, 2008


When I moved to Pence in 1984, after having finally sold my house and paying off all my bills in L.A., I arrived in Wisconsin debt-free and with something over $50,000 in the bank. The first year, after buying the house and making $32,000 in repairs, I was resorting to buying nearly everything on my credit cards. It subsequently took me 20 years to pay them off. It was a lesson I will not soon forget.

But since banks make billions of dollars each year trying to lure consumers into going deeper and deeper into debt so that they can collect the interest fees as well as all those other little hidden charges which appear on your credit card statement each month, they have little interest in promoting fiscal responsibility.

And of course businesses do their part, offering “no payments until 2793" loans and “low, low rates for highly qualified buyers” (and I still haven’t a clue as to what a “highly qualified buyer” might be, but you can be sure, when you take them up on their offer and apply, it ain’t you).

I found it oddly pleasurable to see that banks are getting bitten on the behind when their scheme to make huge housing loans to people they knew going in wouldn’t be able to afford them backfired. I’m not quite sure what their thinking was…if indeed there was any…when they totally overlooked the fact that constantly raising mortgage payments might just result in foreclosures leaving the banks holding thousands of properties they can’t sell. I’m truly sorry for those poor people who were foolish enough to be roped in by the banks’ offers but, again, the banks apparently did not realize you can’t get blood out of a turnip.

But don’t weep too much for the banks just yet. They are doing quite well, thank you, on their credit card interest.

There seems to be a spate of TV ads…ads which have to cost a fortune to produce…pushing the envelope of just how stupid the average viewer can be. (Granted, there is overwhelming evidence that the bottom of the stupidity barrel is nowhere in sight.) One ad, for a large bank, generously says that when you buy something using their card, they will round it up to the nearest dollar and put the change into your savings account! Wow! What an offer!!! So I buy something on their card for $19.99 and they will, out of the goodness of their hearts, round that up to $20.00, putting one whole penny into my savings account. Wow again! I grow weak in the knees. They’re putting one whole penny…which, by the way, they have charged me for…into my own savings account.

I’ll put in that order for a new Cadillac right now!

A similar scheme, by a sponsor I blessedly have managed to forget, features a cute little yellow glob floating around about six feet off the ground which, when not at the gym “working on my abs”, tells you that if you pay your bills on time for six months in a row, on the seventh month, they will return that month’s interest to you! The purpose of that little ploy is aimed at promptly raking in a good six months of usurous interest, after which they will give you a magnanimous rebate equal to less than 1/7 of the total interest you’ve paid during that time. A win-win situation. The banks win, and the banks win. You? Oh, go out and charge something!

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Beauty, they say, exists in the eye of the beholder. (So, of course, does pornography, but that’s another story.) I’ve always put beauty into three loose categories: far-off (mountains, the ocean, clouds), the near-by (people, paintings, sculpture), and close up...those things which must be seen up close to be fully appreciated: (individual stones and pebbles, especially those still wet from being picked up from the shore, babies of most species). And sight is not the only sense by which we absorb beauty into ourselves. Music is the purview of the ears. (It’s rather odd, now that I think of it, that smell and taste are seldom referred to as “beautiful”—though one could argue that the smell and taste of fresh-baked bread would certainly qualify.

Words are not intrinsically beautiful as they lie there on the page, but when filtered through the eyes into the brain, the images they create are among the most beautiful things in the world.

When it comes to human beauty, I concentrate totally on the male of the species. “Women and sexuality” is interpreted in my brain as “xmprbht and i’xvy”. For whatever reason, I am simply unable to relate the two. When Kinsey devised his famous 1-to-100 range of human sexuality, with 1 being totally, exclusively homosexual and 100 being totally, exclusively heterosexual, he noted that almost no one was either a 1 or a 100. Well, I am a 1. I love women as human beings, but not as sex objects. I leave the full appreciation of female beauty to lesbians and heterosexual men. I am fixated by male beauty, and have been since I was old enough to know that men and women were different. I am being quite serious when I say, as I often do, that someone is so beautiful (to me) that my chest aches. I mean it literally.

In my periods of self-analysis, I long ago realized (and, again, have often said) that a basic element of my homosexuality is that I have always been attracted to men whose physical qualities I longed to possess myself, but felt I never did. And I found, in the days before I aged out of the market, as it were, that “cruising” had for me the special thrill of the fact that the person I went home with had somehow found me attractive enough to go home with. A strange but powerful form of validation.

But I’ve gotten somewhat off the subject…which will strike those who know me as a great surprise. Beauty and fascination are nearly synonymous—the difference being that something can be fascinating without being beautiful, I can think of nothing beautiful that is also not fascinating. Who can look at a cloud…really look at it; concentrate on it…without finding it both beautiful and fascinating? Is there anything more beautiful or fascinating than the fingers and toes and skin of a baby? Or the wide-eyed innocence of a kitten whose eyes have just opened? Have you ever really looked closely at a dandelion, or at the swirls of your own fingerprints, or at dew on a spider web.

The very idea that I can even begin to address the subject in the course of one brief blog is ludicrous, but consider this just a small arrow aiming in the direction of the subject. Beauty is everywhere. That we so seldom take time to really notice or pay attention to it robs us infinite pleasure.

Look around.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Laughter and Humor

Man has been blessed with many gifts which separate us from the other animals, and each of them is precious. But for me, one of the most precious of all is laughter. Some other primates apparently share some degree of this gift, but only Man has honed it on the strop of irony and the unexpected to a razor sharpness.

Any laugh is worth its weight in gold, but it is those very rare laughs that are so long and hard that the eyes squeeze shut and the body rocks back and forth and the stomach hurts and one gasps for breath which are, as the commercials say, truly priceless.

Laughter is of course a physical response to one’s own sense of humor, and not all humor produces laughter. And while laughter involves specific physical reactions, the sense of humor that triggers it varies slightly from culture to culture and widely between individuals. Slapstick humor, like that which made the Three Stooges famous...the pie in the face, the stepping on a rake largely universal, but humor runs the gamut from the out-loud guffaw to the Mona Lisa smile. (British and American humor is often lost on one another). One's personal sense of humor dictates that individual's response, and I’ve always delighted in my own, probably because of the strange connections my mind makes between things.

Laughter is the most overt form of humor, and the therapeutic benefits of all types of humor...and even of smiling...are now widely recognized by science. This, to me, is something of a "DUH!", since all humor produces a sensation of pleasure, and sometimes the most subtle forms of humor can be the most pleasurable. I think immediately of the covers and cartoons in the New Yorker magazine.

I’ve always loved and often quoted one definition of Puritanism: “A Puritan is one who lives in abject fear that someone, somewhere, might be having fun.” One doesn't have to wear a buckled hat or dress all in black with a dash of white trim at the collar to be a Puritan...just look around you. I often wonder what fundamentalist Islamic militants or Christian religious zealots use for humor? What do they find to laugh at. Obviously, very little, and I feel sorry for them. A person who cannot laugh is a person with a withered soul.

I find I don’t laugh as much as I used to, and I miss it. There are reasons why, I suppose. I note that I spend more time on the inner smile than the out-loud laugh. Part of it, I’m sure, has to do with the simple fact that much humor is based on surprise and the unexpected, and the older one grows, the more often one is exposed to similar things, so the novelty somewhat wears off, rather the same way that a once popular sitcom seems less funny the more often you watch it. It isn’t necessarily that it is less funny, but that you have heard it, or something very similar, before. The spontaneity wears off.

I am currently reading a book (“The Book of Lamb; the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore) which proves I haven’t lost the ability to laugh out loud just yet.

I’ll close this entry with something that moved me nearly to tears when I first read it: an elementary school teacher, just before Christmas, asked her students to write down what they loved most about Christmas. There were the standard “Santa Claus” and “getting presents” and so forth. But one little boy, responding to the question, said simply: “My mother’s laugh.”

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Friday, January 18, 2008


In ancient Rome, during triumphal marches through city, a slave always rode on the chariot carrying the honoree. His job was to stand behind the honoree holding a laurel wreath over the hero’s head while whispering “Remember, thou art but a man.” Wise people, those Romans.

Every human being—I’m sure this was true even of Roman generals—is a mixture of ego and insecurities: they are part of what makes us human. It is the varying percentages of each which helps make each of us who we are and sets us apart from everyone else. I’m not sure what the ideal percentage of each might be, but suspect that most of us fall somewhere around 10 points to either side of the 50 percent center line, with some natural degree of fluxuation between them. Ego and insecurity are a little like oil and vinegar in a cruet, each clearly defined.

I truly admire people with healthy egos, and have noticed that those who have them seldom seem aware of it. But then, that’s the point of a healthy ego: there is no need to question it. And while people who project too strong an ego can be insufferable, it’s been my experience that obnoxious egos are often chimeras, and those who display them often are doing so to hide their insecurities

But in some people, writers among them, it’s as though someone were shaking the bejezus out of the cruet and the ego and insecurity are so jumbled as to be indistinguishable. I know whereof I speak, because my ego and insecurity have been in the process of emulsification in the cruet of my mind for as long as I can remember. My ego tells me I’m great, and that anyone who reads my words will automatically become devoted and adoring fans. My insecurity tells my ego it’s full of crap, and I’m no damned good (on a bad day) or mediocre at best (on a good day) and that anyone who tells me I do have some worth is just being kind.

A writer’s ego is large enough to assume people will want to read what they have written, and often unjustifiably insecure in fearing they won’t. I am frequently awed by the extremes of both my ego and my insecurities and frustrated by the fact that they invariable negate one another. It is my ego which writes these blogs, and my insecurities that constantly scoff at how I can have the temerity to think that anyone could actually care what I have to say.

For whatever reason, many writers—and you don’t need a caliper and slide rule to figure out I’m including myself here—have a desperate need for approval, which is a form of validation. Every human needs validation, but writers…I…seem for whatever reason to be particularly needy. There is never enough love; never enough approval, and a perverse willingness to find and magnify faults and flaws. I fully realize I’m an emotional sponge, eager to soak up every drop of approval I can get. And when I don’t get enough—which of course I never possibly can—I chalk it up to my unworthiness and figuratively beat myself severely about the head and shoulders for it.

But underneath it all, or perhaps because of it, I am truly convinced (ego) that I am not alone in the way I feel; that you may sometimes feel the same way, and that through my throwing myself out in front of you, you might see that you are not as alone as you may think. It is pure ego for me to assume so, but would be nice if it were true. I think they call it “validation.”

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I remember a line I read once that I loved: “How is it that those who long for immortality get bored on a rainy Saturday afternoon?” Excellent point.

We’ve all wondered what it would be like to live forever: I certainly have, and I realize there is a great difference between the prospect of living forever as an individual and being a member of a race that lives forever. The latter would be more comfortable, but less practical.

For an individual, the gift of immortality would come at truly terrible emotional price. It’s bad enough, in our limited time on earth, to watch those we love age and die around us even as we ourselves grow old. Imagine how terrible it would be to go through that same trauma time after time after time through eternity.

If all humankind were suddenly immortal, we would within decades breed ourselves (for it is commanded that we must be fruitful and multiply, and Lord knows we’re good at that) to the point of there not being a square inch of space on the entire land surface of the planet to hold us all. What would we do then, and how? Spread out like an infestation of bedbugs to other planets, to do the same thing there?

Science has fairly well determined that the universe itself will not last forever. At some point, our sun will grow dim and die, and the earth, too, will die, as will our solar system and our galaxy. Humankind may well, if it survives that long, be able to move on to other worlds other solar systems, even other galaxies, but those, too, would suffer the same eventual fate, and there would, eventually, be nowhere to run. Mankind, too must perish. And for a single immortal man (or woman) in the end, when the last sun has gone out, what then? (There are many things which cannot be conceived of, and this is surely one of them.)

Immortality would take other tolls. Any form of long-term relationship would be impossible when one partner grows older and the other does not. The ending of any relationship is traumatic. To go through it endlessly is nearly impossible to imagine. Who can comprehend such a thing?

What I would wish for all of us, were it in my power to do so, would be that every human being live, in good health, exactly as long as he or she wants to live. The decision to die would be completely up to the individual. I’m sure that for the first few hundred years, there would be very few deaths not brought about by accident or acts of God or other violent means at which we are so adept.

But eventually, the “rainy Saturday afternoon” syndrome would set in, and more and more people would say: “Okay, that’s enough. It’s been fun, but now it’s time to move on.” And “move on” to where opens another entirely new book.

I truly enjoy speculations like this, even though there are, and in many cases simply cannot be, any answers. To question is one of Mankind’s greatest gifts: to be denied the answer is one of its greatest curses. So I think I’ll just try to be happy with an elemental truth, for as long as it may apply: Cogito, ergo sum. I think, therefore I am.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Good Night, Mrs. Calabash...."

If you recognize the source of the title of this entry, you are, as they say, “of a certain age.” It was Jimmy Durante’s traditional sign-off line, and I can still see him, at the end of his TV show, walking from sharp white spotlight circle to another, singing “Good Night, Good Night, Good Night...”

And if you have to ask who Jimmy Durante was, you have been deprived of a wealth of a whole generation (and more) of marvelous, talented performers, and the wonders of the golden days of radio—which was every bit as integral a part of our culture as TV is today, plus having the incalculably priceless (which is probably redundant) advantage of requiring a degree of imagination no longer demanded or expected.

Fibber McGee and Molly (“‘Tain’t funny, McGee”)…Hattie McDaniel, the first African American ever to win an academy award (for “Gone with the Wind”), played Beulah, Fibber and Molly’s maid; Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Fanny Brice (as Baby Snooks), Eddie Cantor, Bob Hope (for whom I never really cared, though to admit it during the heyday of radio was almost sacrilege), Amos and Andy, Our Miss Brooks (with the inimitable Eve Arden), The Life of Riley (with William Bendix...remember him?), George Burns and Gracie Allen (“Say goodnight, Gracie”), Henry Aldrich (“Hen-RY! Henry Aldrich!” “Coming, Mother”...though I sadly cannot recall who played Henry). And there are an infinite number of fascinating stories behind each of these shows and each of these people.

And the great “story” shows in what is now called “prime time”: “Grand Central Station” (“Dive with a roar into the 2 ½ mile tunnel that burrows beneath the glitter and swank of Park Avenue, and then…Grand Central Station! Crossroads of a million private lives; a gigantic stage on which are played a million dramas daily!” Lux Radio Theater, Inner Sanctum (sound of a creaking door, with voiceover saying “Welcome to…the Inner Sanctum”), The Shadow (“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows...” followed by spooky laughter).

And those were just the evening shows. During the day there was Stella Dallas, Our Gal Sunday (“The story that asks the question: can a girl from a small town in Colorado find happiness married to one of England’s handsomest, most famous lords...Lord Henry Brinthrop”), Just Plain Bill (which switched suddenly from a folksy comedy to heavy melodrama).

The precursors of today’s game shows began coming along toward the end of radio’s golden days: The $64 Question (yes...sixty-four dollars! That was the top prize, and people got just as excited over the prospect of winning as they do now over suitcases of cash.), Queen for a Day (the first of the sob-story ‘reality’ shows, whereon some poor lady with ten kids might hope to win a washing machine).

And for kids, in the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. time slots, there was Captain Midnight (pronounced dramatically as “CAP-tan MID-night!”), Jack Armstrong: All-American Boy and a host of others.

The entire nation was as transfixed by these shows and the actors on them as people today are with television, though again because you could not see what was going on, it all played out vividly in the listener’s mind. All the bulk of television requires is the use of your eyes. No creating of scenes and faces and actions. The words coming through the radio opened the windows of your mind.

Simpler times. More naive times. Times offset by devastating diseases which no longer exist, and by prejudices and bigotry no longer tolerated. But on looking back, one tends to see only the familiar, and feel only the comfort of friends, family, and an entire world now gone.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Seeds of Cynicism

I spend a lot of time despairing for the future of mankind, but how can one not? When I receive an email from The Honorable Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Nigeria informing me that I must “stop the illegal act” of not having responded to a never-received previous post and wanting to send me an ATM card on which I cannot withdraw more than $5,000 a day, and I realize that The Honorable Minister actually assumes that I am…that anyone is…so astoundingly stupid as to respond, I truly do despair. How can anyone intelligent enough to be able to read and operate a computer fall for this garbage?

But the most frightening thing is that someone, somewhere, must respond or, like bedbugs deprived of blood long enough, these loathsome creatures (no offense to bed bugs) would all eventually disappear. But also like bedbugs, the credulity predators don’t disappear

Religious zealots like to be very fond of the phrase “an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.” They usually apply this to homosexuals. Well, given a homosexual on the one hand and The Honorable Minister on the other, to which one do you think the phrase most accurately applies? (If you say the latter, I know a barrister in Uganda who is eager to talk to you.)

Granted, the world abounds in the naive and the gullible and the lonely, and it is slightly unfair to lump them in with the stupid. It is to a large degree these people the credulity predators target.

Of course, I’m confident that science will one day find a gullibility gene in our DNA. Las Vegas is built on the firm knowledge that such a gene exists. States count on it in their lotteries: Publisher’s Clearing House, it will undoubtedly will shock many to know, is not in the business of giving away money just out of the goodness of their hearts. (And when was the last time you saw the Winner’s Prize team walk into a tenement to knock on the door of a winner? Just coincidence, of course.)

It’s wonderful to believe that miracles exist, and unquestionably they do. But in such tiny percentages given the overall population, I don’t even bother to try to fool myself.

I normally simply delete computer spam without a even a first look, but one today caught my eye. It guarantees to add one inch in...uh...what subtle euphemism to use here? Why know what I’m talking about. I was toying with the idea of trying to contact the sender, offering to buy three years’ worth on condition that they can explain to me exactly how it works. Obviously they know more about physiology than any mere scientist. The fact is that what you’re born with is what you got, and all the pills in the world ain’t gonna change that. But don’t bother these folks with facts. No, seriously, don’t.

I truly think of myself as a romanticist and an optimist. I do believe there is more good in the universe than bad. That there is hope. Yet I find myself fighting to keep myself from just giving up and being swept away by the continual—and, it appears intensifying—assault by the forces of illogic and incomprehensible stupidity.

Someone once pointed out that a cynic is a frustrated romantic, and I do not want to become a cynic. Cynicism saps one’s humanity, and results in Oscar Wilde’s definition: “A cynic is one who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Lizzie Bordon, the Eastland, and the Iriouois

My mind, as you may have noticed, works in rather unusual ways. This morning one of my favorite classical stations was playing Morton Gould’s “Fall River Legend” on which Agnes de Mille based her ballet of Lizzie Bordon.

Hearing the music set me off pondering yet again the unsolved axe murders, on August 4, 1892, of Lizzie Bordon’s father and step mother in their Fall River, Massachussetts, home. (“Lizzie Bordon took an axe and gave her father forty whacks; when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”) The true story has always fascinated not only me, but much of the world aware of it.

An amazing tale of a singularly dysfunctional family, a summer of intense heat, and a last meal of three-day-old mutton stew all played a part. Everything pointed to Lizzie, but she was never tried for it. I don’t remember exactly how many books I’ve read on the case, but probably at least six, and finally came away with the conclusion that Lizzie did, indeed, do it, but that she did it while suffering a grand mal epileptic seizure and therefore honestly didn’t remember doing it. But there are enough questions and loose ends (including a burned dress, an axe handle, and a maid who claimed to be in the barn at the time of the murders) to keep people guessing for a long time to come.

Now, how I made the mental leap from Lizzie Borden to the Eastland and the Iroquois, I have no idea. If my mind knows, it isn’t telling me.

I have always been utterly fascinated with disasters, both for their drama and for the fact that it is often in disasters that the finest and most noble qualities of humanity emerge.

The Eastland was a popular excursion steamer based in the Chicago River. On July 24, 1915, it was chartered by the Western Electric Company for an outing for its employees and their families. While still partly moored to the shore, the weight of the more than 2,500 passengers assembled on one side of the ship forced it to capsize. Over 800 people died within a few feet of shore, making the Eastland not only the worst disaster in Chicago history, but one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history.

On December 30, 1903, Chicago’s Iroquois Theater was a matinee performance of Eddie Foy in a production of “Mr. Bluebeard.” The theater, supposedly fireproof, was filled to capacity, with large numbers of children in attendance. At one point in the show, a piece of scenery caught fire. Stagehands and the play’s cast struggled to lower the fire curtain separating the stage from the audience, but it became stuck halfway down. The theater’s lights went out as the panicked audience tried to flee, only to find the exit doors locked. 605 people died, and from the fire came sweeping mandatory safety rules for theaters across the country.

Disasters tend to quickly become simply footnotes in the history books, and the fact that their emotional impact dulls with time. Few pause to reflect that each involved real people, men and women and children who laughed and cried, had friends and family and dreams and often, swept up in inconceivable situations, displayed the selflessness, courage, and nobility which exists somewhere within all of us. The pity is that it often takes a disaster to bring them out.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Friday, January 04, 2008

All the Ships at Sea

It is truly sad to watch your dearest friend, the person with whom you have shared an entire lifetime of joy and sadness, begins a steady, inexorable, albeit inevitable decline. To watch, helpless, as day by day the cruel nature of time take their toll. And it is doubly hard when the observer and the observed are the same person.

Dorien watches with sorrow often tinged with embarrassment, as Roger is gradually denied those things which have served him so well for so very many…though never enough…years. Neither Dorien nor Roger can understand why this is happening. It is simply not fair (an observation behind which, if you listen closely, you can here Fate chuckling). And while Dorien is totally free from Roger’s physical changes, both realize that the two are inexorably linked. When Roger comes to the end of his tenure of existence, Dorien also must leave. Roger is noble enough to wish with all his heart that this were not the case, but of course it is. Dorien looks at a bit more stoically, rather like the analogy of the captain going down with his ship. Which is not to say he is not selfish enough to wish it were different.

This particular blog was prompted by the fact that today was one of my drooling days, which embarrasses both my Roger and my Dorien sides tremendously. For someone with no salivary glands, I somehow manage to produce copious quantities of liquid from somewhere within my mouth, over which I no longer exerts the same control I once did. The result is that when I open it to speak, the liquid rushes out. Dorien teases him that he should wear a bib. Roger is not amused.

The reason for this preoccupation with what the Roger half of me is no longer able to do is primarily because the realization still shocks me. To go through the vast bulk of one’s life taking the simplest things for granted (opening one’s mouth wide enough to eat a sandwich, being able to tilt one’s head back far enough to drain a can of cola, standing with one’s shoulders against a wall and leaning one’s head back far enough to also touch the wall, being able to swallow anything without having to wash it down with milk, water, coffee, etc.) and then suddenly NOT being able to do any of these things was—and still, to a large degree, is—as incomprehensible to me as it must be to you. Dorien tries to be empathetic, and to understand, just as you do, but the fact is that no one who has not experienced these changes can possibly understand.

The more I think of the analogy of ship and captain, the more I relate to it. Every human being is, in effect, a ship on the sea of life, and every ship must eventually sink or go to the scrap heap. The Good Ship Roger is far from floundering just yet, but with each wave that washes over the bow, it is taking on water, and more and more time must be devoted to manning the pumps. To forestall the likelihood that the Roger, like most ships, will simply sink unnoticed beneath the surface of the sea, Dorien has taken on the task of preserving in detail as much of the ship’s log as possible. Books, blogs, letters; each is put into a bottle, and tossed into the sea; in hopes that someone, somewhere, sometime will find them and be aware that the Roger, while not the grandest of ships, was a proud and worthy vessel which once sailed the sea, and did not go down willingly.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I never make New Year’s resolutions. Never have. I’ve never understood why people even bother: 99 percent of resolutions made on New Year’s Eve have been broken by 2 p.m New Year’s Day…and that’s only if the person making them has slept in. I consider them yet another exercise in futility, and there are already more than enough of those. But humans are very fond of trying to deceive themselves, and are for the most part very good at it.

So while I’ve not made any resolutions for this year, there were a couple I momentarily toyed with.

1) If resolutions were as easy to implement as they are to make, I would resolve to reverse the aging process and keep going backwards until I reach the age of, say, twenty-one…an age chosen only since it is the age of majority and I’d legally be an adult.

2) I would resolve to be more organized. I am quite capable of returning to my apartment, using my key to open the door, walking directly to my computer, sitting down, getting back up to leave the apartment again, and discover that I have lost my key. It’s a gift.

3) I really wish it were possible to become a better person simply by “resolving” to be one. To be less time-obsessed, more considerate of others, more giving, not quite such a pain in the patoot to my friends requires not only resolving to do it, but to actually work toward that end,, and this is where the resolution process falls apart. I would love to be far more well-read than I currently am. But mostly, I would pledge to be kinder to myself…to be far less quick to fly into rages over my failure to have everything come out the way I want it to on the first, or fifth, try. I would resolve to learn patience.

4) And I definitely would resolve to stop spending so much time bewailing what I have lost and what my physical limitations, and concentrate on being grateful for what is still left to me, and the fact that I ever had those things to lose

5) I would resolve to be less dismissive of people whose opinions differ from my own—but only on the condition that they make the same resolution, so I’m pretty safe on that one.

6) I would resolve to do more than pay lip service to my altruism, and become much more active in the real world and what happens in it. I would resolve to write my elected representatives (of course I would first have to take the time to be sure I knew who they were) frequently, and volunteer for any number of truly worthy causes devoted to stopping global warming and the destruction of the rain forests and end world hunger.

But one resolution I would not make, at any time or under any circumstances, would be to be more accommodating to reality. I have fought it all my life, and will continue to fight it now and forever. I have no illusions as to in any battle between reality and dreamers, who has the physical upper hand. But thoughts are not bound by physical reality, and even after I am gone, as long as my words are stored somewhere, I’ll continue to thumb my nose at it.

Actually, many of the things mentioned above are really very good ideas, and I know I would indeed be a better person for them. So I’ll think about it for a while and, though it’s too late for 2008, maybe next year.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.