Stranger in a Strange Land: Writer's Block

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Writer's Block

It seems like I just finished the last column and already here I am, sitting down, starting again. Like usual, I grab my mug of hazelnut coffee, tuck my laptop under my arm and shuffle off to the back office where I start up a track from Bob Dylan’s Modern Times. The music is going, my computer is on and my coffee is warm. Mia, my cat, is busy with her usual mischief-making. She stalks the perimeter of the room, like a shadow in the night, before pouncing onto the desk. At eye level, she gives the computer a jealous glance and then attacks the screen’s round black corner with her gnawing teeth. I gently push her away and gravity pulls her quickly to the floor. As she scurries away her belly, swinging from side to side, sweeps the linoleum like a rag mop.

I stare at the blank screen and realize I don’t have anything to write about. Strange. I always seem to have something to write about- I must have done something of interest this weekend. Nope. Come to think of it, I haven’t done a whole hell of a lot except catch up on work, read a book, and sleep. It’s one of those weekends. Although I’m pleasantly content with my self-inflicted boredom, it doesn’t do much in terms of getting a column written.

Frustrated, I look out between the blinds that obstruct my view and see it is actually snowing. Perhaps winter is finally here? Perfect. I can write about all the winter activities I do in celebration of its long awaited return. While I patiently wait for enough snow to accumulate to go cross-country skiing, I retreat to the basement and tackle the stacks of unlabeled Rubbermaid containers lined up against the wall. I spread their contents across the cement floor until I finally find the one (the last one I look in) that contains my winter clothing. I pull out my snow pants, leather-lined gloves, stocking hat, thermals and down vest. I then head back up the stairs with the pile of clothing balanced in my arms and blocking my view. At the top I trip over Mia, who has strategically placed herself to get payback for my previous shove. After regaining my balance I head out to the garage to load up the skis, which have been laid off since December of 2005. Back inside, I spend a good half hour getting dressed, bundled up and ready for a day spent on Swiss Valley’s ski trails, enjoying the serene beauty of gliding down a glass-lined path that meanders beneath a cathedral of fresh snow clinging to skeleton trees. I get in my car, hit the garage door opener, and back out. In the driveway I pause and look at my winter wonderland only to realize it has already ended. “Damn you El Nino” (which is the warm and fuzzy word for Global Warming, which is the scientific term for “We’re all f*%#ed). Like a beautiful girl in a light white linen sundress, the snow is just a gentle tease.

Back to where I started: in my office, by the window, staring at a blank screen. The cat repeats her stealth attack on the computer’s monitor, but again I thwart her in mid-air with a light tap, which is followed by a loud “thud”, which causes the entire house to shake.

Maybe I can write about my crazy weekend as a temporary bachelor? Kara has been out of town for the last few days, leaving me to fend for myself. This scenario has to open a door to some wild stories of drunken debaucheries. However, my friends, I must admit, I am the world’s most pathetic bachelor. Although I could tell a tale of a night spent carousing the dives Kara never wants to carouse and waking to find myself curled up under a tree in Riverview Park smelling suspiciously of East Dubuque and suffering post-traumatic stress flashes of grinding in a techno-colored cage. But such a story would be a very tall tale indeed. Instead, I rented some movies, worked at Miguel’s, went for a walk, spent some time with my parents, other time with my in-laws, and learned to cook frozen lasagna. Not much fodder for a column there.

Again, back to where I began: Office, computer, overly vigilant cat, coffee, Bob Dylan and, having done absolutely nothing this weekend, having absolutely nothing to say. Maybe I’ll just leave it at that.


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