Monday, January 06, 2014

If at First....

I don’t like being hard on myself, but how can I possibly not be? I live on a slippery slope and I am wearing shoes coated in grease. The simplest things and concepts for others are all but impossible for me. The most recent example?

I need the correct spelling for the Greek artist Yannis Tsarouchis, and the years of his birth and death. I do a net search. I find: “Yannis Tsarouchis (1910-1989).” Simple, right? Well, it would be for anyone else, but by the time I get back to the document for which I need the information, I have forgotten how to spell his name. Back I go to check. Get it. Return to document. “Yannis”…or was it “Yannos”? Back to Google/Wikipedia. “Yannis.” Back to document. “Yannis Tsarouchis.” Four more trips to get “Tsarouchis” right. Okay: “Yannis Tsarouchis (19..what?)” Back to Google/Wikipedia. This goes on at least six times and finally the only way I get it right is to cut and paste from Google/Wikipedia to the document. Why the hell couldn’t I remember for the two seconds it takes to switch from one to the other? But I can’t. Ever.

Names, phone numbers, any number of over two digits; any set of instructions involving more than three—sometimes two—steps. This goes for printed instructions like instruction manuals, owner’s manuals, etc. I get three steps into them, and I am utterly, totally lost. I often find it impossible to get through the  first half page of the introduction. Any purchase with the terrifying words “Some Assembly Required” leaves me either curled up into a fetal position, sobbing, or in a screaming (literally) rage against my incompetence. I am sure it is only my soul-deep antipathy to the concept of suicide that has kept me alive this long. And if I do force myself to at least try to complete the project, I end up with one or two key components either missing or left over. If there are pieces left over, they are utterly unrecognizable items, the use or purpose of which I have no idea and for which I can find no matching illustration or explanation in the instructions.

Boxed or packaged food items that say “Push to open” or “Lift to open” are absolutely guaranteed to end up in as many pieces as the box or package contains scattered all over my apartment. I frequently find directions to “Open Other End” only after I have hacked the opposite end to shreds with a kitchen knife.

I’ve recently been engaged in a battle with my cell phone which rings only to let me know I have three missed messages for which the phone didn’t make a peep when they came in. If a call I’m trying to make out actually gets through and I am put on hold, the chances are 100 out of 100 that my phone will suddenly go dead in the middle of the 34th “Your call is very important to us” message or I will finally reach a human being and get so far as “How may I serve you today?” before a “beep-beep-beep” informs me that I’ve been disconnected. I’ve taken to keeping the phone plugged into the wall socket to prevent this. It does not and neatly eliminates the reason I got a portable phone in the first place.

I try to convince myself that, astronomical amounts of  evidence to the contrary, I am not alone, and that other people have the same problems. I don’t believe it for a minute, of course, but even if I did, the fact remains that my problems are my problems, not theirs, and my problems are, of course, far more important than anyone else’s. I think they call it “hubris.”

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

I was wondering why you didn't just copy and paste it in the first place. I do that all the time and it beats having to go back and forth like that.

Also, there are times I've simply started taking pictures with my phone of things I need to remember or places I've put things so I don't have to play the Memory game later on.

Let's face it, D. You've become part of the MTV Generation of not being able to do things like the older generation before us. :P

Les Kes said...

I love this. You have the correct vision.
keep up the good work.

Dorien Grey said...

Thanks, Les. Glad you think so. And thanks to both you and Kage for taking the time to comment.