Monday, July 30, 2012


Love is the most fundamental, powerful, and admirable of emotions…though humans cannot claim exclusivity on it, as anyone who has ever had a dog or a cat knows full well. There are concentric and frequently overlapping circles of love, radiating out from the core of our being—ourselves: parents, relatives, friends, country, interests, etc. Each circle is different; the love between parents and children is quite different than the love between friends, and that indescribably unique love we call romantic love between two people includes and transcends all the others.

Love in its various forms feeds us and sustains us, and without it our soul withers and dies. It is essential for our survival and our emotional development, and we seem able to store it up, like some animals store up body fat for use during periods of deprivation. Science has shown babies—human and animal—need to be touched and held and fondled as much as they need physical nourishment. Deprivation of love and attention warps the individual forever. (I have seen heartbreaking experiments conducted on baby monkeys denied any contact with their mothers, and it horrified and devastated me. Such experiments may further science, but their effect on the deprived individual is incomprehensible and unconscionable.)

There comes a time, as we age, when, our sources of love grow fewer. Our parents die as do, over the years, our partners and our friends, until those who live long enough find themselves like newborns once again, desperately needing love and attention and touch, and receiving less and less of it.

I am comfortable in my life. I am blessed with supportive, caring friends who provide emotional nourishment the human soul requires, and I try to reciprocate it, though I am far less adept at it than they. I still have some family left, and they remain my anchors to the past. I am fortunate, too, to have friends I’ve never met personally but who know and seem to appreciate me through my writing. Yet those my age and older are increasingly aware that our support systems are not what they once were.

But what I do not have, and miss with a true sense of longing, is a romantic-love partner with whom to share my life. I used to joke that the one thing that separates friends from lovers is sex and, at the risk of eliciting a scrinched-face “eeeeee-eeewwww!!” from those under 40, I can assure you that sex remains a strong factor even after one’s sexual appeal is totally lost on others. We may learn to live without it, but it leaves a gaping hole which cannot be closed.

There are those—too many—who think of love as a limited commodity and treat it selfishly, expecting it without feeling the necessity to give it. We all want it, need it, and even expect it as our due, but may too often be loath to give it when we should, perhaps fearing it, and we, may be dismissed as unworthy.

It's extremely rare to meet anyone who, believing themselves with or without justification to be unloved, can convincingly claim they are happy. And it is a tragic fact we seem to be living in an increasingly unkind and unloving world, with the result that far, far too many people are deprived of love, of affection, of kindness, of the even casual genuine touch on the arm from someone who cares about them.

It is nothing less than tragic that in our society has devolved to the point where even the most innocent and casual physical contact with a stranger or even an acquaintance is discouraged, and we are rapidly becoming a nation of paranoids. That teachers are forbidden to hug a troubled student for fear of official reprimand or dismissal is a sign of just how far down the path of dehumanization we have traveled. That a kind, well-intentioned stranger cannot reach out and casually touch a child without being suspected of being a child molester is infinitely sad.

But our capacity for love...for giving as well as limitless and, as elemental as it sounds, the fact remains that the best way to get love on any level is to give it without really expecting it to be returned; the best way to make a friend is to be a friend. The best way to be loved is to love unconditionally.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back. And please feel free to visit Dorien's website at

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Tin Cup

It embarrasses me to ask for anything. When I was very young, my parents often put me in the care of my beloved Aunt Thyra and Uncle Buck, whom I considered almost my second parents. But even with them, I would never ask for anything. I might, say, want a banana or an apple, which were right there in a bowl on the kitchen table, but I would never ask for one. Aunt Thyra would see me looking at them and say “Would you like a apple?” and then I would accept.

And I grew up to be a writer. There are writers who, merely by having their name appear on a book's cover, will have people stand in line to buy a copy, waving money to be allowed to buy one. I am not one of those authors. They are far less than one percent of all writers. Most, like me, must compete for potential readers by wildly beating our own drum and buttonholing passersby, all but pleading with them to please, please read our books. I am truly embarrassed to have to be one of them. I consider it akin to standing on a street corner with a tin cup.

I have, however, been blessed to have had a number of very kind things said about my books, and I am deeply grateful for every word. So whenever possible, I prefer to rely on what other people say about my books, on the grounds that a potential reader will be more readily convinced by what a third party might say than anything I might say or do.

Today, by accident, I came across a review of my Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs by one of the most astute and respected reviewers on the net, Elisa Rolle ( Elisa is Italian, but her occasionally original phrasing is far offset by her keen perspective. I asked her permission to repost it here, and she kindly gave it. Here is what she has to say:

I know I shouldn't read these books since I feel too much for the people in them when I know they are real life men; but, if you think at it, that of Roger Margason, alias Dorien Grey, is a life that is worthy to be told and worthy to be read. Born in 1933, Dorien/Roger is today one of those gay novelists who quietly, but steadily, navigated the turbulent sea of the Gay Fiction market. As often when something is "trendy", the waters are dangerous, and the chance to sink very high, but apparently Dorien doesn't care: he writes his books, he blogs with an elegance that is rare and a bit old fashioned, and he is the perfect epitome of a gentleman.

Short Circuits: A Writer's Life in Blogs is a collection of some of the blogs he posted in these years, and what I loved of them is that they are not in chronological order, but grouped by theme. Through them you can learn of a young boy who came out to his family without much drama, who was a naval cadet, who visited Europe, who loved and left but managed to remain a friend. You read of the deep pain of losing parents, relatives, friends and lovers. Roger tells about two men, Norm and Ray; even if he says that Ray was the love of his life, this man is not as present as Norm in the blogs. Norm was the one who managed to "enter" in Roger's family, and Roger in his. Norm was the one, like Ray, who died, but Roger was with Norm and he lived and recorded the aftermath, with precise dates, while instead Roger is not able to remember neither the year in which Ray died. You will think, well, this proves Ray wasn't Roger's true love, Norm was... I don't think so, I think losing Norm was for Roger like losing a brother, someone you will always associate with most part of your life; for this reason, you remember those moments, and almost welcome the sudden pain in the heart you feel each time. Losing Ray was so heartbreaking that Roger simply erased the memory to be able to go on.

Roger also journals about his day-to-day life, his jobs, even his career in the porn-magazine industry, straight-porn, and when he managed to convince his editors to publish a gay magazine, something that was unheard of at the time. Roger also tells what it means being gay and shy in a society where appearance seems to be the must; it was bittersweet to read about it, since, more or less, Roger's youth was utopia for most gay boys his same age, even today, but nevertheless he grew up like any other ordinary guy, with his insecurity but also with his strong personality, strong because it's clear and defined, but never imposing in a negative way.

Thank you for the shiny apple, Elisa.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And you are invited to visit Dorien's website ( to learn more about him and his books...the first chapter of every book being available on the site.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

One. Two. Three. Four.

...and repeat. Again. And again.

I returned from my Europe/NY adventure early Sunday evening and have spent the past few days just sort of hanging in mid-air, trying to make the adjustment to the realities of the day-to-day world. Vacations, for me, have never been about—or involved—relaxing. They are merely an extension of doing something every minute, and cramming as much into every day as I possibly can. One. Two. Three. Four.

It was, as I said in my daily blogs/journal, a wonderful trip. The weather was unbearably hot when I arrived in Budapest—after 40 hours of no sleep and not being able to get into my cabin for three hours, I decided to walk around the city. Not a wise decision. The combination of no sleep and the sapping heat made me sincerely concerned that I'd not be able to get back to the ship. I'm sure anyone who saw me (and the streets were all but deserted) had to assume I was drunk. I could not walk a straight line. But I did make it back, climbed to the second level of the ship, and promptly tripped over a gnat's eyebrow, falling to my knees. Well, I always did know how to make an entrance.

The weather remained extremely hot until we reached our next-to-last stop, Kinderdijk, a World Heritage site for it windmills, at which point it turned cool and began to rain. It rained on and off (mostly on) throughout my three days in Amsterdam, at one point promising a sunny day only until I went off without my umbrella and then soaking me to the skin. Upon arriving in New York, I was greeted by an old fashioned gulley-washer which took me 3 hours to get from JFK Airport to the hotel.

But the weather was a distant second to the pleasures of the all the very nice people I met and the beautiful places I was able to see, and the memories I brought back (as many as possible captured on digital camera and posted on my website).

And now it is all in the past. But since I spend so much of my time there anyway, all I have to do is look at the photos and open my mind, and I'm there again.

I was painfully reminded yet again—as if I needed a reminder—of the frighteningly widening gap between what my mind wants me to and assumes naturally that I can do and what my body is able to do. My heart and soul truly grieve for who I was not all that very long ago. I, who have always sworn with every fiber of my being that I would never grow old find that I—at least my body—am doing just that.

But all that self pity will not stand in the way of my making plans for my next adventure...a “memorial/back-in-time” cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean to revisit more of the places I first saw in 1956. I am determined to do with the money Norm left me what Norm never did for himself: really enjoy it.

I do hope, when I go, that you will come with me.

And meanwhile, I am back in Chicago and awaiting the release of Dante's Circle, my next book, the cover of which I just saw and posted to various sites. And preparing to go to lunch with my best friend Gary. I want to stop at the local movie theater complex to pick up a soft pretzel from the concession stand. I had my first soft pretzel aboard the Viking Prestige during their “A Taste of Bavaria” event and fell in love with them, and...

Life goes on. One. Two. Three. Four.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photos from 07-19-12, First Full Day in NY

Breakfast: Ham, biscuits and gravy without the biscuits, a cinimmon roll and cofee

Trinity Church, which was within the shadow of the Twin Towers

Another view of Trinity Churh

Walking towa the 9-11 Memorial

And the work goes on

A heavy police presence all around the area

The wait to get in. It's free, but you have to get tickets in advance so they can control the crowds

Inside the Memorial grounds

Crowds are drawn to the Memorial Pools

Reading the names of those lost engraved around the footprints of each tower. Overwhelming.

Looking across one of the pools to the Memorial Museum, which will open next year

The pools are beautiful. Water as tears for those lost pouring into the spaces where two giant towers once stood

Construction around the site

The memorial includes the names of those who died in the attacks on the Pentagon well as those who were killed in an earlier bombing at the World Trade Center

Construction everywhere outside the memorial grounds

The most poignant of all, I think is the bottom name in this photo: "Sylvia Pio Resta and her unborn child." It is to weep.

Construction side of the Memorial Museum

Just before I had a chance to capture it, a small boy, urged on by his father, went up to shake the policemen's hands and thank them.

I believe I mentioned police presence?

Castle Clinton is where people who haven't pre-ordered tickets for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island buy them

My best friend Gary trying his first soft pretzel while waiting for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty

Vietnam and Korean war memorisl

Long, long line to board ferry to Statue of Liberty

Merchant Marine monument

Each ferry carries a mini United Nations of nationalities 

Every ferry is packed

The Statue of Liberty as seen by millions of immigrants

Wish I had--or knew how to put in--a saying to put in the blank space

As each ferry approaches Liberty Island , thousands more people wait to board for Ellis Island

The Statue is seldom seen from behind

Skyline from Liberty Island

Statue ferries run every 15 minutes or so, like clockwork

I like this angle

Cleaning and repair of statue base...statue itself cannot be entered during it.

Posing with statue in background, photoing from evey angle

This single photo captures the attraction of America

Iconic angle w/contruction crane

Leaving the ferry at Ellis Island

I took a lot of these explanations until my battery went dead. Read if you're interested, skip if you're not.