Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bees & Flowers, Progeny & Words

For all the complexities of the human brain, for all our technological achievements as a society, for all our philosophical pride in "free will," homo sapiens are still biologically an animal with certain imperatives—-“Prime Directives" as they are known in science fiction film—most involving our survival as a species.

The imperative to leave something of ourselves behind for future generations is wired into our very being. Most humans obey this imperative by the most fundamental of all processes—breeding, by which we to pass our physical DNA down through the generations. (I've always found it interesting that gays frequently use the word "breeders" as a mild epithet when speaking of heterosexuals.) I am not a breeder. I will not pass my physical DNA down through time.  I shall leave no living, breathing posterity. My words are my progeny. If I cannot produce children, I can hope to produce words which will outlive me. I cannot pass on my body, but I can pass on my mind. 

I must admit that, though rarely, every now and again I miss not having children. I think I would really have made a very good father. But as a 100% homosexual male, the physical "insert tab A into slot B" process necessary to produce a child the usual way is utterly repugnant to me (and, if you are heterosexual, that statement is probably utterly incomprehensible to you). Until relatively recently, adoption by a single man...let alone any same-sex couple...was not an option, and now I have been, as with so many things, aged out of the possibility.

There's an old saying: "Love me, love my dog."  My often-rather-embarrassing need for validation has resulted in my changing that to "Love my books, love me." As with most things, I tend to be a study in contradictions. On the one hand, I really want everyone to like me. But on the other hand, if they don't, I don't take it personally. Not all parents get along with their children, and vice-versa. So I strive to lay out as much of myself as I can in my writing. I can completely understand how richly rewarding it is for a parent to have the love of a child, but if I cannot produce children to love me, I can hope to produce an untold number of books through which I might win the affection of an untold number of readers. It's not the same, of course, but it comes close. 

For a writer whose life is words, books and blogs and emails and letters are not unlike different children, each with their own separate personality. Each are comprised totally of words, yet each serves a specific purpose and have a different...well, I like the word "gravitas." In the world of writing, books are generally given much more respect than blogs or emails/letters, probably because the writer has invested more time and effort in them. While all writing is an aggregate of the writer's thoughts, beliefs, and life experiences, books present them in a more blended, broader-based form; blogs, emails and letters are on a more concentrated and personal level.  

Just as heterosexual parents want the very best for their children, so do I want the best for my words. I would truly love to become rich and famous through my writing. But even as successful as I am in the denial of reality, I cannot delude myself into thinking I might ever achieve fame or fortune through my words.

Like 99.9 percent of all writers, I write because I cannot not write. Secondarily (and it's a big "second") I write to be to be read. But most importantly to me is that I be remembered; that when I am however reluctantly forced to turn in my membership card of life, my words might stay behind. And thus I put as much of my personality and feelings and outlooks and experiences and memories as I possibly can into words. Words are not life, but to me they are the next best thing.

I tried to come up with a single analogy to explain what I'm trying to say, but so many flood in that I can't choose just one. I've often, in describing the hard-to-explain relationship between my dual selves, Roger and Dorien, used the analogy that Roger is the bulb, and Dorien the flower. Taking that analogy one step further, my words are the pollen of Dorien's flower and you, by reading them, are the bee, and without your carrying away the pollen of my words, they end with me. I do not wish to die without a trace.

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 (

Monday, May 25, 2015

"What if...?"

While there are few things less constructive than pondering the “what ifs” of life, I do it frequently. Our lives are filled with “what if” moments when we wonder how our lives might have been different if we’d done or said something other than what we did do/say.

I can think of three “what ifs” that I an convinced drastically affected who I am today. Perhaps the most significant is: what if my leg had not been badly broken when I was five? Even though it was broken…totally by accident…by a little girl (a long story) and occurred at about the same age as I realized I was not like other little boys, I never linked the accident to my being gay. I firmly hold with the theory that one is born either straight or gay, and I was definitely born gay. But that event altered my life dramatically by making me hesitant to engage in any activity in which I might be physically hurt. This of course includes sports, though my fear of being hurt was probably a far second to the fact that I’ve always had very poor hand-eye coordination and am something of a klutz.

The second “what if” that played a large part in my life involved the day…I must have been around six…when I was standing one summer in the yard singing Christmas carols. I wasn’t singing for or to anyone but myself. And then a man passing by stopped and said…I’m sure not unkindly, “Why are you singing Christmas carols? It’s summer!” I was already almost excruciatingly shy, and for some reason, the man’s question so mortified me that I have never been able to sing unless it was in a group. I wonder if my life might have been different if that man had not asked me that question?

When I was between seven and eight, I was invited to a classmate’s birthday party, near the end of which the mother hosting the party insisted we dance, boy-girl. I had never danced, did not know how to dance, and most definitely did not WANT to dance boy-girl. But I’m sure I did, if for no other reason that children do what they are told. I was once again so agonizingly embarrassed I can remember the feeling to this day.

Ever since I saw the face of God in a parted cloud—another long story—when I was about seven, I have been thoroughly convinced that I was somehow very special. Not necessarily superior to others, but apart and removed from them. Part of me still, against all odds, clings to this totally unsupported belief. And yet I am constantly looking around at other people, at the gifts they have, at the ease with which they react to any situation, and feel somehow lacking; somehow inferior. But since I am not like other people, my logic goes, I should hold myself to higher standards than they. The frustration comes in the realization that I can’t and don’t—which leads to feelings of inadequacy and failure. Even now, if—and because—I cannot do things with the grace and ease I see in others, I simply do not even try. 

Stemming from that day of singing Christmas carols in the yard, I have gone to great and often counter-productive lengths to avoid calling attention to myself. When other people in a crowd are reacting with great enthusiasm to something, I am incapable of doing so, and in my efforts to not call attention to myself, I call attention to myself by just standing there like a statue.

There are so many “what ifs” in life, a different reaction to any one of them having the potential to change the future, to change who I am at this moment. Even attempting to consider them can  open a black hole which unchecked can draw everything into it and result in my not being able to do anything at all. So perhaps the answer to constantly asking “what if” is simply not to ask. Well, okay, but what if……?

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 (

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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.

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 (

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Endless Loop

Human beings seem somehow incapable of fully acknowledging the fact that the gift of life does not come without a price, which grows steeper with every passing year, or an end. Probably this is a good thing, since it keeps us from worrying too much about things over which we have no control.

We each develop our own philosophy―especially as we grow older―to deal with and shield us from some of the harsher blows of reality, of which none is worse than the death of a loved one. To me, the term "loved one" extends beyond partners and close relatives to include friends and pets. (Love, after all, is love, and the fact that the love was for a pet in no way diminishes the intensity or validity of the emotion.)

I recently received an email from a friend telling me of the death of his good friend whom I did not know, and the deaths of another friend's two dogs, with whom my friend's own deeply loved and recently deceased dog had played. He was truly and understandably saddened by both occurrences, and he may well have been hard-pressed to say which sadness was greater.

To shield myself from reality, I have developed and totally accepted the concept of time as being an endlessly repeating loop not unlike a cosmic Mobius strip of movie film, each micro-nanosecond being one frame of that film, and each repeating over and over throughout eternity. But because, like watching a movie, we are unaware of the individual frames, they appear to move seamlessly from one to the next. We are unaware that the frame just shown is still there, waiting to be shown again and again. 

Of course, this theory would mean that not only are we constantly reliving all the wonderful, loving, joyous moments of our existence, past and future, but that we also are and will forever be reliving all the pain and sorrow which comes as part of the price of life. And I suppose, by taking this theory one step further, one could say that the definitions of heaven and hell could be found in those repeating frames. If the total number of the frames of our life contain more joy than sorrow, that could be considered heaven; conversely, if the "movie" of one's life shows more pain and sorrow than joy, that is hell.

This idea would surely alienate organized religion, which relies to a great degree on the belief of there being something beyond death, and I readily acknowledge that there may be dimensions beyond the Mobius strip of time. But for me and those who do not hold with the concept of a specific heaven or hell, what happens after we reach the last "frame" of our particular piece of the loop of time means, in effect, nothing, since every instant of our lives still exists somewhere on the strip.

Another argument sure to be raised against the time-as-an-endless-loop theory would be that it negates the concept of free will, but I would counter that by saying that in the repeating loop of life, at each moment where a decision must be made, we of course make the same decision...but that we make it freely every time.

I try to avoid delving too deeply into philosophy, not only because I don't consider myself in any way qualified to do so, but because I too quickly lose control of my thoughts, which invariably start out slowly and methodically, but pick up speed with each factor considered, until the centrifugal force numbs the mind.

After finishing this blog and sending it to my webmaster and friend Gary for posting, he sent me this, which he found on Wikipedia: “Eternal return (also known as ‘eternal recurrence’) is a concept that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space. The concept is found in Indian philosophy and in ancient Egypt and was subsequently taken up by the Pythagoreans and Stoics.”

So, while I may not be the original thinker I assumed I am, let me just say that this is, nevertheless, what I truly believe, and while I will never know if I am right or wrong―another of the frustrations of philosophy―I am comfortable with it. If you don't have a philosophy of your own, you're welcome to consider this one. 

Or not. 

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 (

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Losing Battle

I have been fighting a losing battle against reality since the first moment I became aware that the world was not what I expected it to be. The war between What Is and What Should Be is unrelenting, and I find myself increasingly engaged in fighting against another foe: the onset of paranoia.

Surely I am living in the wrong world, the wrong dimension, the wrong time. I have often quoted the story of the father who picks up his young son and tosses him high in the air. The child is terrified, but his father easily catches him, and tosses him in the air again, to catch him again. The boy soon grows to enjoy it: to delight in the sense of freedom and flying. And then the father tosses him yet again and lets him fall to the ground. Seeing the boy lying there, utterly confused, the father says, "You see, my son, you must never trust anyone."

I have always related to that story. Few human fathers would be so cruel--certainly not my own father--but Reality is father to us all, and Reality would, and regularly does, teach us this same lesson.

I am aware that if I fully acknowledged Reality it would chew me up and spit me out in the blink of an eyelash. One of the reasons I am an Agnostic is that I cannot...truly cannot...conceive of a god of goodness and mercy who could allow human beings to treat each other the way they do.

I watch TV and see aliens in human form standing in front of churches where parents are mourning their dead children, holding placards saying "He deserved to die"...and grinning happily as they do so. Surely they are not human. Please tell me they are not. Were I God, I would step down from heaven and crush them like bugs.

I watch our elected leaders and wanna-be-leaders solemnly making statements so blatantly and egregiously false, so hypocritically and calculatedly mean-spirited and hateful that I simply stare at the set in disbelief. Is it any wonder that if this is reality, I want nothing whatever to do with it? And my disbelief is compounded by the realization that millions of people, who so willingly give up any right to independent thought or to the laws of logic, actually believe what they are being told. The world is becoming a vast Jonestown, with millions standing in line to drink the Kool-Aid.

Our computer in-boxes are flooded with messages having only one purpose--to satisfy the sender's greed. They are conscience-less and merciless predators stalking the jungles of cyberspace, looking for the weak, the naive, the gullible. They are without shame, without morals, without dignity...without humanity. And knowing that I have absolutely no power to do anything about it rattles the cage of my sanity. So I scream into the tornado, the sound of which is reality laughing.

There are, of course, good people in the world, and I must constantly struggle not to lose sight of that fact. There is kindness, and love, and courtesy, and friendship, and loyalty, and dignity, and open-mindedness and caring and compassion. Every one who possesses these traits in any number and in any combination is like a bright, shiny apple of hope for humanity. Unfortunately, it is the rotting, putrid odor of the relatively few bad apples which gets the attention.

All I can do is what I can do: to continue screaming into the tornado, in hopes of convincing others to do the same. I find reassurance in the fact that I think that this could actually happen, and that I have not yet surrendered to Reality. I shall continue my battle with it, while struggling to hold paranoia at bay. It is not an easy, or a fair, fight. But I know I am not the only one waging this war, and that it is infinitely discouraging and frustrating, it is also infinitely worth fighting.

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 (

Thursday, May 07, 2015

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?



Monday, May 04, 2015

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 I 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 those I know, 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 again 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 payments 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.

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 (