Friday, May 27, 2011


Visual-dyslexiaImage via Wikipedia
I’ve been trying to improve how I work recently. Given that I started as a a professional writer in 1986, a reasonable person might assume I would know how to write by now – but the truth is that I don’t think I’m there yet. True, I’m not without some skill, but I would like to be more than a technician. I would like to be able to touch people’s hearts – and that is no easy task.

It remains an ambition. My goal is to write with clarity, humor, style and empathy. It’s an exploration, a work in progress. It’s a deeply satisfying journey – but the goal is damnably elusive.

Did you know I was dyslexic (which covers a multitude)? I wasn't diagnosed until about 15 years ago. It is clear that the man who diagnosed me was on the button. Though I have no difficulty in reading now - and ended up top of my prep school (aged 12) - that merely proves the point that dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. Some of the signs were/are:

·         Learning to read late.
·         Being unable to learn - and recite - by rote.
·         Having difficulty in remembering - and confusing - messages.
·         Compensating by remembering by association; and then learning to deduce from the data I have assembled.
·         Having serious and sustained short-term memory issues including being unable to read a telephone number and retain it long enough to dial it without great effort.
·         Having great difficulty in filling in forms.
·         Disliking corporate environments (very few corporate executives are dyslexic).
·         Being entrepreneurial (entrepreneurs are disproportionately dyslexic).
·         Being an out-of-the-box thinker.

I wish I had studied all of this earlier but, in truth, I'm quite proud of my mind and it never occurred to me that I was suffering from a cognitive condition. Instead I attributed some of my behavior to flaws in my character - and tried to conceal them accordingly. 

Perhaps I still do.


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Thursday, May 26, 2011


The frontispiece of the book Leviathan by Thom...Image via WikipediaTHE STORY SO FAR...

Jo has finally departed.

She actually died on December 22 2010 after making use of Washington State's enlightened Death With Dignity law (she had terminal cancer and was in terrible pain) but her ashes stayed here until her daughter, Penny, returned to her home in Italy at the end of February - and even then a sachet of her mother's ashes remained for me to bring to Ireland to a location I won't name for the moment. I was far from her closest friend - I only really got to know here as she was dying - but I helped look after her towards the end - and I'm Irish.

Suffice to say that Jo, who had been a travel guide, and had visited most of the known world, had a great sense of humor; and the love of her life had been an Irish-American (Special Forces).  And she loved books.

She, herself was not Irish. She was originally from Yorkshire, England. She was bored stiff, knew she was different, and joined the British Army to see the world. That organization didn't manage to hold on to her long (despite sensibly using her in intelligence), but seeing the world - up close and personal - she certainly did.

My daughter, Evie, who is off to Ireland shortly, is going to deliver Jo. The sachet that I handed over to her (it looks disconcertingly like a drug buy in the movies) was in a small shiny black bag that I had thought been provided by the crematorium until I read the label just before the handover.


Jo, who was a world class adventurer, and gambled many times with her own life, would have approved. She would also be pleased that Evie will be the courier. They were friends.

Jo christened Evie "The Wild Child" - an entirely appropriate nickname for my much loved daughter who, like Jo, believes in living life to the full. That may be an understatement.

I confess to have been quite shaken by Jo's death, not just because being present as she died was stressful in the extreme, but also because it was followed by another death in the condo building of someone I knew well (a difficult man but not without his good qualities); and those two deaths were accompanied by the passing of three other friends. The Angel of Death seemed to be having a sleep-over. It makes one think.

I'm not sure I believe that life is "solitary, poor, nasty and brutish" but it is certainly short.

In case you are wondering, Thomas Hobbes was the author of that display of seventeenth century positive thinking.

My editors in the past have long told me that Americans don't understand irony (I think they underestimate my readers) - but that, folks, is irony!

Perhaps in reaction I went down with something extremely nasty in March and felt akin to a dead eel in April, but now sunny May in Seattle has arrived (I jest) seem to be back to full energy.

So expect blogs again.  If there is one constant in my ecclectic world, it is this:

I love to write. 


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