Writer’s block strikes hard at this not-a-monastery home

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Categorized as 08/22/11 Goshen News column

Dear writer’s block,

How I loathe thee. How thou complicatest my life, causing days of anxiety, nights of unrest, shingles, hives, and the twitch in my left leg.

I toss and turn on my orthopedic pillow, flipping and flopping like a marlin stranded on a Floridian beach. The Mister awakes. One bloodshot eyeball blinks at me. “Writer’s block?” he mumbles. A groan is my only reply.

You’re very clever. I’ll give you that. Using those disguises is a stroke of genius. Diabolical, but genius.

Your most effective one by far is the crowd that shows up every morning, looking famished. There are – count ‘em – one, two, three, four, five sets of blue eyes, matching, and ruffled-up hair. It’s the Bedhead Club and their president, talking loud, dropping things, and jockeying for position at the counter.

A door slams. Someone burps. A toilet flushes, and there goes my concentration. That’s why I can’t write here. It’s a zoo, and it’s feeding time.

I’ve tried to create here in my so-not-a-monastery home. I really have, but it’s an exercise in failure and futility. There I sit, sentence forming, pen raised. Just as I’m ready to start, someone (a not-monk) sets off a bottle rocket out back, splitting my infinitives and my concentration right in two. What in the world?

Breathing deeply and counting to 10, I search for my happy place, but it’s going to take a lot more than 10 beats to find it. This would be easier at a monastery. It really would, especially if they’re doing that “vow of silence” thing. That would rule out bottle rockets and Thunder Kings for sure.   

I’ll bet those guys wash their own robes. I wouldn’t have to worry about the piles of dirty jeans and mucked-up T-shirts if I was writing there.

I’ll bet they all speak like adults at that Franciscan monastery. If I were writing there, I wouldn’t have to endure strange conversations like the one I heard recently that went like this: ‎”Stop that! Are you gonna stop?” “Yes!” “Yes as in you’re gonna keep going?” “No!” “So you’re not gonna stop?” “I’m gonna stop!” “Oh, so you’re gonna stop stopping?”

A girl can’t even think with a mess like that going on. Good grief. That one left my head spinning, and my eyes all crossed up and burning. I nearly cried, but it would’ve run down my back, so I settled for four ibuprofen and a nap. What else is there?

It’s brilliant of you, by the way, using Johnny Cash and the Beach Boys against me. You know good and well I can’t listen to Johnny without tapping my toes and singing along. We’re all the way to “Luther Played the Boogie” before I come to and realize that deadline’s looming. I’ve got to finish up!

The Beach Boys trick was a good one. I’ll admit it. There I was, working away in my office while one of the not-monks was cleaning the bathroom downstairs when what to my wondering ears should appear? Why, the sounds of “Help Me, Rhonda” coming from the direction of the lavatory, that’s what.

See? That’s why I can’t write here to save my life. Swimming through the Amazon River in a ketchup suit would be a walk in the park compared to navigating this gene pool. The piranhas here are bigger, but they’re just as hungry, and they’re more creative.

You’ve forced my hand. Since I can’t do it from the house, I’ll have to go someplace else. Someplace quiet like, oh, say, the coffee shop? Well, shoot.

What if I don’t know how to act? After all, no one is hitting anyone else there. Nobody’s chasing other patrons on a bike. No one’s asking to share my food or dropping vinegar ice cubes in my water.

At the coffee shop, no one ever locks anyone else out because they “thought that it would be funny, Mom.” Uh-uh. They’re boring like that.

I don’t have to worry about the dirty dishes there, either. How refreshing. And everyone washes their own clothes. Again, refreshing.

No one’s asking for money or hiding the keys. No one needs help wiping either end (no one that I’m responsible for, that is). There’s that.

I’m not sure this will work, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I can suffer when called upon. All for the good of others, of course. All for the common good.

The Unblocked Writer

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