We are back from vacation. Seventeen wonderful days away from the daily irritations of life. Everyone knows the worst part of a vacation is returning home to the piles of stuff that have to be dealt with. My biggest pile was composed of emails, most of which should have been composted. How many? Survey says-2,280!

How to describe how I feel about such a thing? Let’s digress a moment for the answer. Many years ago, whilst living in sin with someone, we rented an apartment near the water in Freeport, Long Island. It was here the Lord dealt me His punishment. Around 2 a.m. I was awakened by a sound that was hard to identify. It sounded like several giant mice trying to scratch their way through the living room wall. I got out of bed, walked to the light switch in the living room and flicked it on. My ears led my eyes to the noise which was on the ceiling. Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t have created a spookier scene. I could not see the plaster ceiling because it was covered by a moving mat of roaches. Literally thousands of them, dozens so scared by the light that they began flying down towards the floor–and me. I didn’t know whether I would faint or throw up. That’s how I feel when I open my computer every day and look at the emails.

I average about 100 plus emails a day, almost none of which I want. Thus I should have come home to about 1,700 emails. Why the excess over this period, I don’t know. But let’s take a quick look at their composition. The winning category is politics. In that category, there are a few emails about problems and policies. The rest, even most of those with a hint of policy, want money. They only want a little, but they want it every week, some more.

The runner up would be non-profits fighting to protect something or stop something. It is downright depressing to read about the dwindling supply of large animals on earth. The one that touches me most is the plight of the elephant probably because they are so human in so many ways. Cats like Jaguars, the Florida Panther, Snow Leopards, Tigers seem doomed. Even little critters on land, in lakes and streams, that have been here for eternity are being killed off at alarming rates. And yes, every organization wants money to help them help G-d’s creatures.

One organization that is very informative and doesn’t ask too often for money is a non-profit dedicated to informing us about the Amazon, it’s people and its ecology. Simply put, if the Amazon basin goes, likely so go we. Still in all, I could hear from them a little less and still feel more informed than I was.

Then, of course, there’s Facebook. I don’t have the time and energy to deal with their corporate policies. I have barely enough time to keep up with the quest, driven by a book coming out this summer, to grow my friend base. The problem is how many of these “friends” want to share something they want to be supported or don’t, want to rant and rave about politics to a point that makes me not want to leave my house for fear of how many lunatic conspiracy theorists still fighting the Obama citizenship question are out there on the streets and in  restaurants, or those who just want to share plain old drivel. Why do they want me to know where they are at any given moment of the day or night? And why do they think I should care? I mean were someone on the way to the moon or even Montana maybe, but Chile’s? Then too it takes a huge amount of willpower not to answer some of them. That then worsens the problem. It’s like scratching when you have the measles.

In its efforts to try and give some meaning to the word friend, Facebook tells me about everybody’s birthday. A very small percentage of the time, I am grateful because I’ve forgotten someone I should not have forgotten. To keep up with the rest I’d have to hire a skywriting plane. Go away for 17 days and you’ll be amazed at how many birthdays you’ve missed!

There are other categories. I’m sure you can fill in a bunch I’ve neglected. Feel free to remind me. At the very bottom of the list though, maybe 1-2% of the total, are emails from people I actually know and/or want to hear from. They tell me things I want to know, cement relationships stretched thin by geography and time, answer questions I’ve asked and are as a group the “happy place” for me when it comes to reading emails.

Opps. Here’s an interesting but miniscule category I forgot. Prostitutes and pornography, mostly from the Philipines. These are headscratchers. Why and how me? I report and delete them. As grandma used to say, with friends like these…

As I try to drain this swamp, which is taking me hours of doing little more than aggravating my arthritis from repeatedly hitting the delete button, I wonder what the solution is? An odd encounter prompts some thoughts. As we rambled through the flea markets of this and that town in Portugal and Spain we noticed people offering for sale dozens and dozens of telephones from the fifties, sixties, and seventies.

I began to wonder if anything cataclysmic would happen if we left our cell phones home, if we called people to tell them about the rousing night we had or were looking forward to at Chile’s, if we sat right down and wrote someone a letter or hey, even typed it. Then on the trip to the mailbox, we’d have the pleasure of mailing something other than bills to utility and service companies. Was it so awful to have to remember ourselves or remind our kids when going out to have a dime (‘long time ago, that) or quarter for an emergency phone call from a phone booth? Sigh. Phone booths are becoming as rare as, well, Jaguars.

I guess that’s all about as realistic as hearing from someone I know that they were on the way to the moon or Montana–at least from my perspective.


Another little gem from Bill Gralnick who appears here most every Sunday except on rare occsion when he doesn’t. More of the same, and more that’s different are available on his website

Keep an eye open for news about his coming out announcement about this summer’s book and remember what he says, “Read! It’s good for both of us.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s