Tag Archives: nothing to write about

Am I gender biased by assuming that whoever broke into my house was a guy?

I wrote about how our house got broken into and burglarized a couple of weeks ago. Whatever, by this point it’s old news. My wife and I are fine and, it’s cliché to say, but it was just stuff that got stolen. Everything is just material, it’s all replaceable. Everything except for about a month’s worth of writing. That kind of stung. Ever since then I’ve been struggling to reproduce all that I’ve lost.

But it’s like, I really don’t remember a lot of what I wrote. Or I might have an idea of where I was going, but individual paragraphs? Those subtopics that make up a whole piece? I have no idea. A lot of the stuff that I write, even if I have a plan as to where I’m headed, it just pops into my head as I go along. It’s like this cashew piece that I put up a little while ago. That was a rewrite. After the robbery I tried to make a list of all of the things I had written about. It’s much easier to get going if I at least have a direction.

And so I remembered, oh yeah, I wrote some over-the-top thing about cashews. And so I wrote another over-the-top piece about cashews. But what I wound up writing turned out to be much different than the original. I guess the overall feeling was the same, but those beats, they were all just kind of made up on the spot.

And whereas before I had that huge safety net, like I said, I was about a month ahead of myself, now I’m just trying to commit to building that surplus back up. It’s going to happen, I’ll get back eventually. But right now I’m like, OK, every day, get these things written, let’s do this, I have to do this. That’s a lot of unnecessary pressure. Especially like on days when I have to work, when I only have a fixed amount of time to get my writing done. I don’t have the luxury of staring off into space and daydreaming for an hour or two in hopes of finding something funny or interesting to write about.

That’s right now, I have like twenty minutes before I have to leave. I started thinking about what I’m doing, about that robbery. Specifically, my wife told me how she was telling people at work about the incident. By this point, we’ve both told so many people the details, we’ve covered it individually from countless different perspectives. The story is down. If you come up to me and start asking me about what happened, all of my answers are totally programmed into my head.

And so while my wife was answering some question, explaining how the guys must have jumped the fence, climbed up the gutter and balanced on the air conditioner while breaking in through the bathroom window, some guy interrupted her and said something to the effect of, “Don’t you think you’re being a little gender-biased in assuming that the robbers were male?”

My wife told this to me and I was like, “You’re kidding, right? Someone actually said that to you? Was he making a joke?” He did say it and, as far as my wife could tell, he wasn’t joking around.

Say what you want about gender equality, while I don’t have footage of the robbery, I’m almost positive that it wasn’t a couple of women that burglarized our house. I want to say that I’m one hundred percent positive, but yeah, I guess theoretically it could have been women. Although, come on, just think about it, I can’t exactly explain my certainty, but I am certain. I’m absolutely convinced that it was at least two men who committed the robbery.

Is it wrong of me to think so? Am I being gender biased? I don’t think so. You just don’t see women, or, you don’t see too many reports of women going around engaging in this type of criminal behavior. But that’s beside the point. Is that what gender equality is all about? Is that where we’re supposed to be headed as a species, that when something wrong goes down, we’ll all be able to say to ourselves, “Well, whoever did this, let’s be mindful of the fact that it could have been either a man or a woman.”

It doesn’t matter. I want something to identify with when I imagine these assholes. I don’t want a vague sense that possibly any human being could have been involved. Of course, I don’t want to go so far as to imagine an identity, an ethnicity or anything like that. I’d feel like a jerk, like a racist. But I don’t feel bad at all in my certainty that it was a couple of dudes.

Whatever, it’s over. I just hope that guy was joking around with my wife. Because who interrupts someone talking about how their house got broken into with such a ridiculous question? It just seems a little insensitive, like there might be a better time or place to talk about gender bias.


Even though I’m on vacation right now, I’m still committing myself to sitting down to write something every day. But it’s really hard to concentrate because it’s so beautiful outside and I don’t want to be at my computer trying to figure out what to write about. It’s hard enough doing this at my kitchen table back in New York, where I’m almost completely desensitized to the world around me. I’m able to, sometimes anyway, completely clear my mind from all distractions, open up my imagination to topics such as, what would it be like to wait tables in space? Or, do I really believe in the magical properties of crystals?

But here it’s like super hard, for all of the obvious reasons. There’s this ridiculous beach outside. I’m sitting in my hotel room in a bathing suit trying to just belt out a blog post, just one short piece, just something. I didn’t get any writing done yesterday, because we were traveling. It was one of those get-up-at-six-in-the-morning days so we could catch our flight. That’s great, but of course my brain wouldn’t let me fall asleep until two in the morning the night before.

When we finally made it to our hotel yesterday afternoon, all I had the energy to do was sit on the beach and drink Mai Thais until my body couldn’t keep its eyes open, some time around seven PM. I woke up this morning at nine, but my wife had to pry me out of the bed. I can’t believe I used to pull all-nighters like this once a week when I was in college. And it was nothing. I’d spend all day totally goofing around, realizing that I had way too much work due the next day, but I’d shrug it off, head to the library, and stay up all night getting my assignments done. What happened to me? At what point did I turn into this guy that becomes a zombie the one time a year he only sleeps for three hours before a flight?

By the way, it’s funny because, I wrote this whole blog post a while back about Delta Airlines, how they wronged me in the past, how I swore I’d never fly with them again. Guess which airline had the cheapest flights to Puerto Rico? Guess who flew Delta Airlines? Whatever, I flew in protest.

This morning we got up, we had the hotel breakfast, and then we camped out on the beach, my wife lying out in the tropical sun, absorbing its golden rays and bronzing herself like a pro. Me, I was committed to the shade like a cockroach, religiously reapplying sunscreen every twenty minutes. I’ll still burn, but it was worth it, to be able to sit outside. I got to read, something I really don’t let myself find enough time for.

We’re only on our first full day of vacation here, but if I had to find one thing to complain about, it’s that there are way too many vacationers here complaining. We’re at a total American beach destination, and yeah, I work in the service industry, so I guess I’ve sort of fine-tuned myself to automatically detect the frequencies of others’ discontent, but I’m really shocked by how so many Americans can come to a beautiful tropical island and just find everything to complain about.

We went out to dinner to some seafood restaurant in Old San Juan. Everything was as perfect as you’d imagine an amazing seafood restaurant to be. We had ceviche, we had whole red snapper, we had these fried fish balls. Man, everything was just f’n unbelievably delicious. The only thing that put a damper on our good time was these two ladies at the table next to us complaining the entire meal, to each other, to every single staff member that came over. It was beyond ridiculous. They ate an entire dish and then complained that it wasn’t enough, arguing over the bill for an hour after they finished their last bite. Our waitress wound up buying us a round of drinks after they left because we had to sit next to that vortex of negativity the entire time. What a bunch of entitled brats.

And then today at the beach, there was this couple complaining, loudly, to everybody around them about how long it was taking for the hotel staff to get them a beach umbrella. Just get one yourself if you want it that bad. It was one of these scenes where the woman was walking around in every which way, grabbing anybody that wore anything remotely resembling a uniform, “Excuse me? Can we have an umbrella? Everybody else is getting umbrellas. Oh my God. We need an umbrella,” to the point where like three employees eventually came over with three different umbrellas, the second and third one realizing that they had all been contracted to repeat the same job, muttering to themselves in Spanish the absurdity of this lady’s demands.

Anyway, that’s my only complaint, other people complaining. That and me not being able to concentrate on my writing, because I’m having a fantastic vacation.

I’ve got nothing

I’m constantly trying to cultivate this habit, that whenever I have an idea for something to write about, for this blog, for something else, whatever, that I’ll immediately write it down so that I don’t forget about it. But I’m not there yet. I’m only doing it like twenty-five percent of the time.

Sometimes it’s a logistical thing. Like I’ll be riding my bike on my way to work and something will pop in my head, and I’ll think, OK, I better write this down as soon as I get off my bike. But even that’s too much. It’s more than likely that, even if I’m only five minutes away from my destination, I’ll get distracted during those five minutes, my mind will wander, and my idea for whatever it was that I was thinking about, it’ll be gone.

Maybe I’ll be out for a long run. It’s whenever I’m out there, using my body in a repetitive action. It’s like after I’m physically engaged my mind is free to wander in a way that’s impossible to do while I’m standing still. But it’s not like I leave the house with a pen and paper.

A few times, usually when I come up with something that really captures my imagination, I’ll get worried that, just by the nature of where this idea was born, that it’s already doomed to be forgotten. Like in the middle of a long run. So I’ll start repeating it over and over in my head, trying to keep it fresh in my consciousness, so that I’ll be able to come home, head right to the computer and write down what I’ve been mulling over.

But a lot of the time it’s like a game of telephone. It’s just the nature of our brains, I guess, that it’s really hard to control our thoughts, to take an idea and to hold it down long enough to make it something that you can then shape and cultivate. The few times that I’ve successfully held an idea in my head, say for half an hour, I’ll come back and write it all up, but there’s that part of me that’s thinking, something’s different here. Something’s changed in between the instance of inspiration and the moment where I’m able to try and hash it out.

It’s the same process even if I’m out somewhere and I have the foresight to write down a good idea. How do I capture a whole idea in just a few words? Often times I’ll look at my notes later in the day and I’ll be like, what was I getting at here? What was it that inspired me to write this note in the first place?

The inspiration for this piece is my frustration of having lost too many good ideas. I’ll be nodding off to sleep at the end of the day and two or three sentences might jump out in my mind. My brain automatically starts piecing together a story or a joke or something, I won’t really be able to tell where it’ll all head until I sit down at the computer and start typing. But then I’ll fall asleep. I’ll wake up the next morning and I’ll have the residual feeling of having had a good idea, but now all I’m doing is drinking coffee and writing something about not knowing what to write about.

I’ve never been sailing, but it’s how I would describe what it feels like to sit at my computer and write. I’m out there in a boat on some body of water. I’ve got the sail up and I’m hoping to catch some wind. Where is it going to take me? Once I’ve got a nice gust, can I steer it to take me in a different direction?

I don’t know. I’ve got to practice. I guess I’ve got to be willing to sit in that boat even if I don’t feel any wind. I’ve got to write bullshit pieces like this every now and then about not knowing what I’m doing or not having anything to write about. But look at this, I’m done. Here I am. Is it my best piece? No way. But I’m somewhere. It’s definitely satisfying to imagine how much worse I’d feel if I hadn’t written anything at all.

Saying the same thing over and over and over

I’ve gotten to a weird point here. I’ll sit down to write a couple of these essays every day. Usually I just kind of set my mind to shuffle, like I’ll to clear out all of the excess chatter until something close to an idea emerges, and then I just barrel through. But lately I’ve found myself questioning the whole process. Namely, every time I have a good idea, I think to myself, have I already done something like this before?

I don’t want to keep saying the same thing over and over again. I don’t want to be that guy that keeps repeating the same jokes. But sometimes, I don’t know. Sometimes the basis for one of these blog posts will be something out of real life. And here’s where it gets tricky, because in real life I’m constantly making the same jokes and saying the same things over and over again.

It’s kind of lame, yeah, it totally is. But if I think of a joke, a good joke, a bad joke, whatever, something that I find even slightly amusing, I’ll want to share it. Maybe that’s fine, maybe that sucks for whoever I happen to be around, I can’t really tell. But I know that, for example, at work, if I come up with something funny, I’ll try it out on one person. If I get a good response, or any response at all, I’ll feel better about it, but I’m not satisfied. What if that person was just being polite? What if that person was looking for a quick way out of the interaction, and decided that a quick laugh would be just the trick to stroke my sense of self-satisfaction long enough to make an exit?

So I’ll say it to the first person, and then I’ll do it again. And then if I deem the joke or the story or the prank or whatever a success, then I know I’m in a good spot. Like I know at work, where I work with like thirty or forty other people, that that’s a lot of potential for some solid joking around. And so I’ll say it to one person, and then two people, and then five. And then after that I’ll have the joke down, like it’s in my head. And maybe it’ll be a situational joke. But situations will arise and, because the joke is so in my head, so at the tip of my tongue, I’ll be finding ever more ways to lay it on.

And after ten, fifteen times, I start to have doubts, specifically, how many times have I told this joke, and to who?* After a while, maybe the laughs will die down. Or maybe they won’t die down, but I’ll detect something, a fakeness to the laughter, a willingness to leave abruptly after I’ve told the joke. Or maybe somebody won’t think it’s funny at all, and I’ll ask them, “I’m sorry, have I told you this already?”

And maybe they’ll laugh and say, “Yes, Rob, you’ve already told me this.” In which case, we can both have a laugh at the joke’s expense, at its overuse. And maybe that’ll be a sign that I should pull back on that joke, maybe put it on pause for a little bit, save it for times when I’m only around certain people who I’m positive haven’t heard it before. And I should probably make sure that they’re not friends with people who I’ve told the joke to, just in case they’re both talking one day, and one of them says to the other, “Hey, Rob told me this great joke the other day,” and they’ll share it and the other person will be like, “No way. Rob said the same thing to me weeks ago. Jesus, that guy really needs to come up with some original material.”

If things ever get out of hand, like say I tell two different people the same joke, two times each, obviously everybody will think me a one-trick horse, like I’m just starved for material, totally full of myself, overestimating my joke and storytelling abilities. In this case, to kind of turn things around, I’ll start really upping the joke, telling it even more times, at a much greater frequency and intensity. I’ll do it to the point where I’ll totally know that other people have heard it. And I’ll start telling it in a way as to catch the people off guard, like I’ll be really serious about something, and I’ll lure them in with my sense of sincerity, only to reveal that I’m going about the same old joke, the same old same old. At which case I’ll start fake laughing, over and over again, like I’m crazy.

What I’ve done here, see, it’s not about the joke anymore. I’ve taken an overused joke and wrapped it up into one big joke, the joke being the multiple repetitions of the same joke. Get it? Isn’t that funny? Are you laughing? You’re totally laughing. I get it. I don’t mess around here. What was I talking about? Something about repetition. Something about worrying about writing about the same stuff over and over again. But, whatever, this was somewhat original, writing about worrying about repeating myself. I could probably write about this a few more times also, like a month from now, and then three months from now, and then I could wrap all of those up. Yeah, it’s funny, come on, maybe not funny, but it’s something. And if you’re reading this sentence, you read it, right? The whole thing? I can’t imagine anybody coming to this page and only reading the last sentence.

*Microsoft Word, in sentences like this, always tells me to write whom, and while it’s probably grammatically correct, I’ve never heard anybody say “whom” in real life**, nobody I’d ever want to hang out with anyway.

**Except for the Metallica classic, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” of course.