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Recently on Scruff a fellow texted me out of the blue announcing he knew of me via a mutual friend. Our mutual friend has my photo on his ‘Friends” Facebook; The fellow saw my profile on Scruff and ‘put two and two together’ and so he decided to introduce himself.  We had a pleasant chat; perhaps we can meet him in someday, for he lives in town.


This pleasant intercourse made me think how intertwined we are becoming, thanks to social connections.  When I first started blogging I tried to keep tabs on who knew whom. I figured it couldn’t be that difficult. I quickly had to give up as the blogging social network got complex. Next, Facebook came along; then Scruff appeared. It seems everyone in the gay community now knows everyone else.


Being a geneologist, I am intrigued with who knows whom and also ‘how’ viz. what kind of relationship do people have with each other. While I am always curious, discretion forbids me to bluntly ask how ‘well’ do you know each other.


I rather like the notion of ‘everyone knowing everyone else’. This makes us one family, a brotherhood, a circle of comrades with no one alone or left out.


On the negative, everyone seems to know everyone else’s business.  Gay men are gossipy (shocking, I know!), and broadcasting one’s life on social networks doesn’t nurture privacy, does it.


I am not sure what all this networking is getting us. We are all going to become bonded brothers or give each other the clap or create factions to make The War of Spanish Succession look like a picnic.

All the same, I am enjoying the wild and wacky world of networking.

On the south wall of my office there is a window that gets no beam during the summer time, for then the sun is too high to shine into it. This week at noon there is a sliver of sunshine coming through the pane and down on to the carpet; the sun has lowered on the horizon enough to herald the the arrival of autumn. This triggered my fall melancholia; I feel a bit of it coming on.

Newer Spo-fans may not know I have a variety of “SAD” (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It roughly parrelels hurricane season – later August through mid-October.    I don’t get horribly depressed. Rather I feel a sense of futility and sadness of time passing and the disappointments of my life. I know this well enough not to despair, for it never gets too bad, and it goes away with the approach of Hallowe’en. Some years it is a bitch; other years it ain’t so bad.


Curiously, rather than feeling sad about my shortcomings and what I am missing in Life, I am ruminating on house repairs. There are so many things around the house I wish to repair or remedy.  Labor Day weekend is coming up, and I am tempted to do just that viz. work.  I should make a list of things to do and have at it. It is even more curious I should think of working for I am up to my ears (again) with office work. I don’t need ‘more’.  Sometimes it feels work is all I am go for. This is the SAD talking. It does play mind games and clouds my thinking.


I’ve not been sleeping well lately (worse luck). Perhaps I will blow off the entire weekend and sleep through it.  I have never done that, other than in severe sickness when I had no choice but to be all day in bed.  It sounds delicious viz. staying put and doing nothing, and letting the world whiz by without me.


What I need isn’t sleep or work but a hug, a fun cocktail (no rubbish)  and a few things I won’t write out lest my family is reading this. Shopping is helpful. All my trousers are frayed at the cuffs; it is time to get new khakis.

While I am out  perhaps I should purchase another bottle of bourbon – I am not really drinking them but it is fun to build my collection !

I want to share something from work. I hope it will prompt Spo-fans to get their affairs in order.  Now.

A patient of mine is going through the emotional distress of the death of his partner. The partner, perhaps only 40 years old, had a major heart attack. I fear it is a short time before my patient becomes a ‘widower’.  So far as I can tell, neither were prepared for such an event.  A combination of nasty laws and a lack of legal papers explaining the other is to be in charge is causing roadblocks for my patient to make decisions about his partner. There are blockades even to visit him. My patient is somewhat at the mercy of his partner’s family, whether they will defer or not to his desires and decisions.

Besides the painful horror of losing his partner, he will have to deal with all the legal messes.

No one likes to prepare for death. It makes us uncomfortable.  We want to pretend it’s is a long way off. Many have the superstition if you prepare for it it will happen.

Please!  Whether you are young or old, partnered or not, make out  your wills and papers of who makes your medical and legal decisions if you should become incapable.

Do this.

Losing your loved one is grief enough.

Not too long ago Brother #2 told me #1 Nephew had a girlfriend, with whom he spends a lot of time texting. Why don’t they use the phone, I wonder; it seems to me the voice is a far more sufficient means of communication. Brother #2 educated me #1 Nephew and peers prefer texting to calling, which they do continually. Apparently their little thumbs manipulate the keyboard as fast as they can talk. This bewilders me and makes me feel old to boot.

We have at our fingertips (literally) instantaneous check-in abilities twenty four hours a day. I am slowly growing more used to texting. This is an amazing confession coming from a man who bemoaned the passing of letters, of which I was quite fond.

It is curious to consider with whom I text vs. e-mail vs. call on the phone. Phone calls are for those folks older and less familiar with tech stuff, and/or with whom I am more intimate. I never think of texting a person in distress or in sorrow – I call. I telephone my family members, and when I want a serious or more in-depth conversation with somebody.

Text messages seem more for friends and family far away and less connected. I suppose I think of texts as cheaper than calls (do they still have long distance?) I text bloggers and Scruff buddies – chums I enjoy chatting with but have never met. Texting seems more spontaneous, more superficial, and shorter in duration. The grammar is abbreviated. It is amusing to have several text conversations going at once; something I would never do in ‘real life’.

E-mails seem more formal, for ‘business type’ interactions and communicating information, or for creating a ‘paper trail’ – there’s an outdated statement! My e-mails go towards folks less connected. Letters have evolved into e-mail, not into texts.

Facetime calls are jolly good fun. I am sometimes not too comfortable with Facetime as I don’t know what I should be doing during the call. I feel Obliged to be somehow entertaining or put on a show. Facetime feels the most like a phone call, which makes it not preferable to the phone, as on the telephone I can look awful, be in the bathroom or bed. I can converse without awkwardness. Facetime makes me think of “The Jetsons” where Mrs. Jetson runs around while the ‘phone’ rang putting on her mask to cover her curlers.

Someone jumps a bit whenever he hears Facetime ring – is the house in order and – more important – are we in only in undergarments? (or less)

I vote for throwing everything away and returning to dixie cups connected by string.

Earlier today a buddy texted me while I was on a decline bench doing the dumbells. As is his wont he asked “How’s it hanging” to which I replied “upside down”. Between sets (and back upright) we talked about each other’s evening plans.  I was going to dictate charts and tidy up some papers. He was going to a pool party, the kind which sounded rather R-rated if not more so.

It is about 10PM.  As I think of my friend (no doubt having a ball) I wonder at the contrasts of our evenings. It makes me feel old and a bit gipped.  I am reminded of a short story in which there is a line about a parent who was at –

“An age when night had turned to no purpose but sleep.”

I also remember a commercial in which someone opens a bottle of beer which creates an instantaneous party. I fancy having one of those fabulous brews right now but I can’t recall the name. No point in running out to the 24 convenience store.

Truth be told what I really need is stretching and some rest.  As the world spins around me with everyone I know having late night romps (and goodness knows what else) I will be falling asleep reading a medical journal.

If anyone is planning a pool party next weekend Saturday, please think of me.

I will provide the beer.

My closet is organized by classwith each section holding its own sort of clothing item. There is a rack for dress shirts, another for trousers, jackets/suits, and bins for shoes, bow ties and the poo-poo undies. The most prominent clothes rack displays my Aloha style shirt collection. Presently there are forty two of them, of which thirty are Spo-shirts. They all hang on wooden hangers – “No Wire Hangers Ever!” for my darlings.

As I am continually making more, this rack is getting full. I’ve come to the inevitable problem – there is no room for more!  What am I to do?  Here are some modest proposals:

Ditch the wooden hangers for wire ones.

Spill over into the relatively empty rack for the suits.

Get rid of the older shirts.

Move the non-Spo-shirts to their own rack.

Move all the shirts to the guestroom closet.

Get some plastic hangers which allow several shirts to hang down from one hook.

A hostile takeover of Someone’s racks.

Stop making shirts.

Send the shirts via CARE packages to the poor people in the Midwest who are starving for colour and fabulous.

Sell the house and get a new one with more closet space.

Get Cubby to start several new Spo-shirt charity tour and this time don’t tell anyone my return address.

Get one of those plastic bag do-hickies that sucks all the air out and compact them all into a box the size of a brick.

Hang them from the ceiling to create a sort of modern artwork and sell it to the Phoenix Art Museum.

Alas, most of these sound impractical or unattractive.  I like them near by to run my fingers over them and admire my industry. They  would be missed if banished  to the guest room closet. And I suspect the loud colours would give Henrik headaches – if ghosts get headaches.

I think I will set up a WordPress-blogger-Ebay and auction off some of the surplus for cash.  Only provision is the highest bidder has to come and pick them up in person.

*Clever-dicks who think ‘order’ or ‘family/genus’ is more apt are itching for a fight.

Touch and psychiatry have become like vinegar and oil – they don’t mix. It is hazardous if not contraindicated for a psychiatrist to touch a patient, particularly one with a history or trauma, intimacy issues, or poor boundaries.   Then there is a hygiene matter: primary care doctors have easy access to soap and sinks to wash their hands after every encounter with a patient; psychiatrists don’t.

This taboo against touch rankles me, for I know the the value of Touch.  Touch is powerful, therapeutic, and healing. We reach out to hug and hold those upset and scared.  In medical school I was trained to always find someway to make physical contact with each patient, even if they are only coming in for some paperwork item. Sometimes this contact is disguised via ‘let me take your pulse’ or listening to their breathing. Hands are shaken when saying hello and farewell.

Traditionally I do not shake hands or make contact with my patients. When meeting new ones I would make a slight bow to indicate politeness but convey we are not going to shake hands. This safe move has mostly backfired: I sense patients, particular the males, find it rude and/or disappointing I don’t shake hands.  Lately I decided to risk the scorn of  Public Opinion and find some way to make some physical contact.  Outstretched hands are being offered at the beginning or end of the appointments.  My desk is located so that when I get up to go around a sitting patient I can momentarily place my hand on their shoulder as I pass, or tap their shoulder with an index finger to say ‘follow me’. It ain’t much but at least I made contact. My family practice mentors would be pleased although the psychoanalyst professors would be rolling in the graves.

I am limiting this experimentation of touch to male patients, so as not to risk being accused by the females as being inappropriate.

So far I have not been arrested or dragged off by the APA secret police, nor have I been arrested.

Quite the contrary, I think my patients are more relaxed, see me as more friendly, and – do I dare think it – they are more healthy for this contact?

This entry is a thoughtful self-reflection: Not to be worrying ! 

Growing up “light in the loafers” makes you quickly familiar with rejection.  Children are more aware and concerned about being different than adults. Even when they can’t sense this intellectually, they feel it. I was no exception. Toss in some Midwest mentality (which makes you assume you are wrong anway) and this makes for an easy neurosis of ‘Nobody likes me’.  This dreadful sensation is not completely unfounded: as a boy I was disliked by many, often with intense antipathy.

Growing up, maturity, years of analysis – and moving away from Midwest – all have helped to remove the teeth on this neurosis. However, the wound is not fully healed. Whenever I sense indifference or rejection I feel the familiar pain.  This stings even in the mildest of social intercourse :

Hearing friends inviting other friends out, but I am not included.

Some one drops me as a friend on Facebook.

A blogger, whom I visit, never reciprocates with a visit or leaves a comment.

Meeting a couple with whom there is an initial ‘click’ only to have this couple drop away.


These are of course, all trivial matters. 99.9% of the time I see this for what it is. All the same; the little boy within me goes right to the  conclusion I have been judged and found uninteresting and/or disagreeable.

You think by now I would be used to it. Alas, at birth some wicked fairy must have showed up and tapped me on the head with its wand and said “Sorry kid, you’re on the B-list”.

In curious contrast I don’t give a damn ‘what the neighbors think’ or society in general.  At work I get rejection all the time, but that is the nature of the job.  These do not faze.  They have in common I don’t want them to like me per se.

While it would be great NOT to feel “No one likes me” emotions anymore, they are at such as dull level they are more a nuisance than a true hurt.

The pang is without real consequence and quickly goes away.

Damned if I can come up with something interesting.

Today was my first day back at work. Normally I toss and turn the night prior, wondering ‘what awaits me’ , but his was lessened this time thanks to EMR.  On the negative, work and vacation were blurred somewhat: I would periodically ‘check in’ via the internet to renew prescription and return the more pressing calls. On the positive, I didn’t have much to do this Monday morning, having done it in piecemeal through last week.  The only nasty thing awaiting me was a rather terse memo about what to do with patients when the system crashes (see them and wing it).  Otherwise, work is settling down as if I was never away.

My friend Eileen reads my Tarot cards each Sunday. She tells me this week’s reading says it will be productive but uninspiring.  Indeed. There are no plans ahead of me. I had my special week in July (Alaska) and annual trek to Canada, and that’s that. Having no further holiday plans is a bummer, for  I like to having to have something in anticipation.

There isn’t anything to interfere with regular gym appointments and exercise. So I have not excuse not to go.

A blogger buddy gave me some fabric with this sort of pattern;

He hopes I can turn it into a shirt.  It will be a challenge given the specific pattern. I need to get the geese to fish just so. I also need to tailor my pattern a bit so the shirt is not too bulky.

This is about all the excitement happening in my life, other than trying to find someone who would be interested in sharing with me some of the whiskies I brought back from Canada. Someone has no interest in whisky, and it is not much fun to drink whisky alone. Like wine, whisky tastes better when shared with another.

I must get back to my paperwork/homework and back the gym bag for the morrow.

I hope by tomorrow The Muses have come up with something more substantial on which to write.

Stay tuned. 

On the flight home to Phoenix I killed some time composing a list* to add to my  collection. I find lists more useful and reliable than my recall.  They help me keep things organized. Truth is, I am rather found of making lists for the shear pleasure they bring me.
Some of my lists are prosaic: they remind me what to buy next time I go to the grocery store. When I can’t remember something, I consult the appropriate list of guidance. The latest trip to Stratford and Shaw Festivals were more organized thanks to lists of the restaurants we’ve visited and the plays we have seen.

Other lists are more like contests: can I list my ten favorite plays, or my top fifty reads?

Can I recall all the shirts I have made, and to whom I gave them?

Someone is sometimes bewildered by my mania for list making . He seldom needs them. He organizes things in his head and (more curious) remembers them.  I have no such skill.  Lists are my peripheral brain, my companion cingulate gyrus, without which I would be lost.  Lists serve as a warning. They seem to say “You already got one, so don’t buy another!”  This prevents the oh so common mistake of thinking I need this, that, or another, only to discover (when I return home) one or more of said item is already there.

I probably take list making to an extreme. Who cares really, knowing how many Opera CDs we own**, or which short stories I find most remarkable?***  Answer: Nobody, but I.

Some day I should make a list of all the lists I have.

*It is “Whiskies I sampled” :  Forty Creek, Canadian Club, Oban, Glenkinchie, Highland Park, Glenmorangie, and Jura.  Phew !

**34, of which 3 are different recordings of “Dialogues of the Carmelites”

*** Available upon request.

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August 2012

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