Tag Archives: Writer’s block

If you can’t take the heat, sit around and squirm and complain about how uncomfortable you are

I woke up the other day in such a cranky mood. Whenever I’m at this level of cranky, it’s so easy to just sit around and bitch about everything, like every single thing. And I don’t want to, because I don’t want to feed this really annoying side of me that’s able to just look around at his life and find five billion reasons to get pissed off at everything. But I’m going to make an exception here, because I’m really, really agitated right now and, hopefully by getting it out here, I can kind of just work through all of the crazy.

Whenever I start feeling like this, I know that the problem lies with me, even though it might feel like the world is against me. I also know that, once I recognize that I’m in a crazy heightened state of being annoyed, it’s only going to probably get worse before it gets better. Anyway, I woke up this morning right in the middle of this very, very clear dream where I was working at the restaurant that I used to work at when I was in high school. It was one of those dreams where I had a million things to do, but try as I might, I couldn’t even manage to do one task without making a ton of mistakes. It was a feeling like when you’re in a pool, underwater, and you’re trying to run, and even though you’re telling your body to run, even though your body feels like it’s running, like you’re using all of the same muscles that you would normally use to run, you look around, and you’re not moving at all.

And I woke up. And it was like a hundred and ten degrees that day. So I’m just gross and groggy and carrying around this palpable sense of frustration over from, what, from a dream? It doesn’t make any sense and I try to shake it off, but it won’t shake. I go downstairs to let my dog out and the heat, which is oppressive indoors, is totally damning from the minute I step out the front door. And it’s so hot that my dog is fighting me. He doesn’t want to go outside. I don’t either, but I need him to just stop struggling and make this as painless as possible. But he does the opposite and makes it as difficult as possible. On a normal day this is the worst part of the morning routine, and now I’ve got this pain in the ass dog making it take like four times longer than it normally should.

I can feel the sunburn from being outside for only five minutes or so. I make a pot of coffee. I make some oatmeal. I wish these things could just appear in the morning, because they are as basic as basic nutrition goes, and although I need them when I wake up, I really don’t think that they are worth the ten to fifteen minutes that I have to spend getting them ready. I finally sit down to the computer and start writing. But after like a minute I’m already sweating profusely. I’m always bragging to everyone about how I don’t need air conditioning, how I’m so much more resilient to heat than everybody else, but this is crazy. The bottoms of my shorts are soaked just from being pressed in between my legs and the chair. There are drops of perspiration rolling down my body as if I’m standing under some non-existent shower. So I make a move for the AC.

I turn the knob but there’s no response. Nothing. Not even like a failed start-up sound. There’s absolutely no indication that my turning the knob had any affect whatsoever. Is it plugged in? Yes. I unplug it, which is a pain in the ass, because the chord is so short and old and it feels like it hasn’t been unplugged in forever. I plug it back in. Nothing. I don’t know what I hoped to accomplish there, but nothing happened anyway. I go downstairs to the fuse box. I know absolutely nothing about electricity or electrical work. In fact, any time a problem like this comes up, I somehow convince myself that I’m going to wind up accidentally electrocuting and killing myself just by trying to figure out the problem. I take one look at the fuse box and I’m convinced that as soon as I touch it, I’ll zap myself to oblivion.

The fuse box is clearly labeled, and one of the labels says just AC. I’m optimistic now, because it looks like the AC has its own separate fuse. So if I test it, that means that I won’t turn off every appliance in the kitchen, which is always super annoying because everything beeps as it comes back on, and then you have to reset the times and it’s just a huge annoying hassle that’s so tedious, that I know that I’ll just wind up leaving them all blinking 12:00 rather than actually having to deal with them. But I’m still afraid of touching the fuse box. I hold my breath and turn the AC button off. No shock. Whew. Then I turn it back on. Immediately the microwave, coffee machine, and oven timer start beeping. Goddamn it! Why couldn’t it have been labeled AC/Kitchen? Would that have been so difficult? What were the previous residents suffering from some sort of a label shortage? I’m muttering out loud waste-of-breath profanities, like “motherfucker, stupid piece of shit goddamn,” like saying these bad words are going to somehow fix something or make me feel better or stop me from continuing down this path of spiraling negativity which is quickly clouding my already rotten mood into something much darker, much more sinister.

And I really do hate being trapped in a mood like this. Because I’m still a few hours away from even acknowledging to myself how bad of a mood I’m in. Right now I’m just soaking it in, feeling bad for myself, justified in my ever growing contempt for my surroundings. So I sit at my computer and start to write and I can’t think of anything to write about because the sweat from my forehead has accumulated so much that it’s bypassing my eyebrows and stinging my eyes. And I have huge eyebrows, so this is a lot of sweat. And why isn’t my coffee ready yet? My body is screaming for caffeine. I look over at the pot but, oh yeah, I reset every appliance in the kitchen and that included the coffee machine that I had just turned on to brew right before I set out to look for the fuse box, good job you stupid idiot.

Finally, coffee done, oatmeal ingested. Why the hell am I still drinking three cups of hot coffee on such a hot day? At what point in my life did three cups of coffee become so necessary to my starting the day? It’s not helping. I’m just increasing the overall temperature of my body. Homeostasis interrupted, even if the definition of homeostasis is being used correctly here, not that I have any intention of looking it up. Just keep typing Rob, think of something to type about. I can’t. My laptop is so hot that it’s buzzing really loudly and my wrists are getting so hot that I can just feel the blood passing through my hands and over my laptop and becoming irradiated from all of the extra radioactive computer heat, the heat that’s always there, even when it’s cool, microwaving my body, my eyes, my wrists. OK, I’ll drink a glass of water. OK, you know what? Maybe I can’t write in the kitchen today. Maybe I’ll go upstairs and write on the desktop.

I never write on the desktop, rarely, anyway. But there’s a ceiling fan upstairs and it’s better than nothing. But, oh wait, the ceiling fan is making this stupid noise, with every rotation, a chk, chk, chk, chk, over and over again. I stop writing. I haven’t even started yet. I stop myself from even starting my writing to turn off the fan and open it up. I had to find a screwdriver. I’m wasting so much time. I have to go to work tonight. So I open it up and tighten everything and unwind the chain that somehow got rotated around the middle like three times and, have I already mentioned how deathly afraid I am of taking apart and operating on something even remotely having to do with electricity? I put it back together. Much better. I can’t believe that worked, actually.

So I’m writing now on this different computer. The keys are a lot stiffer. I feel like I’m doing finger Pilates here just trying to type. I keep misspelling certain words over and over again, words that I never misspell on my laptop downstairs. And why is the typing off? Are the margins different on this version of Word? Yeah, they are. Hold on, I know I need to write, but let’s just go on the Internet and find out how to fix the margins. I know to fix margins, but I’d like to have it so they’re automatically fixed every time I open up Word, without having to fix them every single time, when I start a new document, I have to change the settings, I’m getting more and more annoyed every second and my wrists are still sweating and sticking to the desk, there is no relief, the ceiling fan is circulating hot air, like an oven, like a convection oven, like a convection oven within a microwave oven turned up to level eleven operating on the surface of the sun, but not our sun, an even hotter sun, one of those white dwarfs, and my shorts are even wetter, I just feel so disgusting.

I go to the bathroom. I’m freaking out. I look in the mirror and splash cold water on my face. Somebody at work made a crack about my eyebrows a week ago and since then they are all that I can see, in the mirror, on myself, on everyone else. Just eyebrows. I’m just a huge pair of eyebrows living in a society completely overrun by eyebrows. I look at my nose hair trimmer. Every fiber of my being is telling me not to touch my nose hair trimmer. My hands are ignoring me. Come on, Rob, every once in a while you’ll see a crazy guy who decided to trim his own eyebrows and he looks just nuts, crazy and surprised. Don’t do it. But my hands go for it. Just a little bit. That’s not so hard. That’s not so bad. Now I just have to do the other eyebrow. Actually, that one’s not so bad either. But they look slightly different. I try to make the same motion with my left hand on my right eyebrow that I did with my right hand on my left eyebrow. But I’m not ambidextrous. This is crazy. What was I thinking?

I need a haircut. It’ll just frame the whole thing in such a way that’s not as dramatic looking. I ride my bike. It’s like ten blocks away. I didn’t have time to shampoo my hair, because every time I go to the barber they always ask me if I want to shampoo my hair, and I always say no, because I just want a haircut, nothing else. But I’m always super self-conscious, like are they not offering? Are they asking, begging, imploring? Please, please let us wash your dirty hair before you make us run our combs, our fingers through it. Please. But I always say no. I always at least try to take a shower beforehand. But that’s crazy, because after a haircut there are always a million little hairs stuck in my head and the only way to get it clean is to take another shower. How many times am I supposed to shower today?

The lady at the front always asks me who cuts my hair. And I always say, I don’t care, whoever’s free. And this guy comes out of nowhere than I’ve never seen before, and he reeks of cigarettes, and I tell him I want a number two haircut. And he goes OK, everywhere, number two, right? Wrong. This guy can’t even understand me. And he’s giving me a haircut. And I’m sitting there squirming because it’s so hot and the AC isn’t on, and I feel drops of sweat coming down my legs. And I’m covered in this nylon plastic synthetic tarp thing and it’s just making my whole body temperature rise by all of these degrees and finally he says he’s done, but it doesn’t look like he’s done. So I ask him, is that it? What about the sides? And he says, no it’s fine, that’s it. Really? I ask him, really? So he looks visibly annoyed and puts the oven tarp back on me and I’m thinking, shit, now I’ve pissed him off, he’s as hot as I am, sitting here, cutting hair in this heat. Their AC must be out also. And he’s going to make me pay for it. Why did I come in today? So stupid. I tell him it’s fine, throw some money at him, and make a break for it.

But I’m pissed. I’m so annoyed. I haven’t gotten any work done today. And I have to go to work soon. And I haven’t eaten anything. You know what? I’ll just grab a sandwich while I’m out. So I lock my bike up again and go into a deli, and there’s not much of a line, so this shouldn’t take too long. So I’m waiting, and the whole one side is a mirror, and I can’t stop looking at myself, at my botched haircut, at my ridiculous homemade eyebrows, and the front of my shirt is getting these sweat patches, but they’re not even at all, it’s like I’ve been hit with a series of water balloons, but from the inside. And it’s so. Hot. Outside. I’m So. Hot.

And there are two women in front of me. And there are two deli people making sandwiches. And the first woman asks for a sample of some hot soup. Hot soup? I’m thinking to myself, you’re crazy! Get something cold! You’re nuts! And the deli guy is thinking this also, because I’m seeing him reluctantly grab a little ramekin and very slowly he opens the soup container, and he’s hit directly with this wall of steam on this hot, hot, hot day, and he has to put his hand inside and grab a sample’s worth of soup. And she takes it and tastes it, and tastes it, and smacks her lips together, and thinks about, what does this taste like? What am I tasting here? It’s soup. Do I like this soup? Can I see myself eating a whole serving of it? I don’t know. Let me smack my lips together a little more, let me really just let the flavor sink in for a second. You know what? I think I’m just going to have a sandwich. On a bagel. Scooped out and toasted.

And somewhere on the way home I realized how bad of a mood I’m in and that things shouldn’t really, can’t really be this bad. My life isn’t bad at all. For some reason my body is just reacting to a series of uncomfortable stimuli and it doesn’t know how to handle them all at once, and so my brain gets frustrated and I start to complain and the complaining keeps going and leads to more frustration and I’m riding my bike home and finally realizing this. I get home. I eat my sandwich. I turn on some fifteen minute political podcast so I can have something to occupy myself with while I’m shoveling this sandwich down my face. I actually didn’t realize how hungry I was. The computer is talking about Mitt Romney and whether he thinks Obamacare is a tax or a penalty and Obama is saying something else and then Romney is saying something else and I don’t even care, not at all, the only thing I care about is this sandwich. And I must have been really hungry, because each bite is making me feel so much better, that by the end of the sandwich, not only am I not as hungry, but I’m not as hot, and I’m finally not as cranky. And I look at myself in the mirror and whatever, it’s a regular haircut, the same as I always get. And my eyebrows look fine. I don’t even think that nose hair trimmer works. It can’t. I’m always complaining about how it does such a terrible job of removing my nose hairs. My face is fine. I’m fine.

But I haven’t done any writing. And so I sit down right now and I write about how I spent all day being pissed off and complaining to myself and squirming and clenching my teeth and my jaw. But I was just hungry. And now I’m fine. Everything’s OK. I’ve just got to chill out sometime, man, sometimes I just need a giant sandwich. Sometimes I just need two, ridiculously large sandwiches, so big that the people behind me at the deli probably got so impatient waiting for the deli guy to put them both together.

My mind’s a total blank

My mind is a total blank. I think I might have finally done it. I’ve exhausted everything I’ve had to talk about. There’s nothing left. My brain was a sponge and I wrung it completely dry and now there’s nothing inside. Time travel? Wrote about it. Parallel universes? Check. Honestly, and people who know me can probably back this up, but that’s about all I’ve got. I could write about either topic again, but I think a lot of the originality has already worn off. I make great first impressions. After that, every single impression diminishes by a factor of one-half. That’s why I’m constantly running around trying to meet new people, but I never call any of them back, ever. Because I know it’s not going to be as fulfilling of an encounter, for them. So I’m thinking of everyone else here.

I was going to write about not being able to think about anything to write about, but I think that I already did that. And then when I went back to make sure, I think that I already did it twice actually. So I’m definitely not going to do it again.

Sometimes when my mind’s drawing a total blank I’ll pick up my computer and go somewhere else. Usually I just write in the kitchen, but that can get mind-numbingly dull after a while. One time I read this article about a guy who turned his treadmill into a desk, so he was constantly walking while he wrote. I don’t have a treadmill, so I just put my computer up somewhere high, so at least I’d be standing up. But it was a little too high. I couldn’t figure out where to rest my wrists. So I went down to the baseball stadium and applied for a job selling beer and soda. And they hired me on the spot because, like I said, I’m the best at first impressions. They gave me the outfit and that contraption that hangs around your shoulders so all of the beers are standing right in front of you, propped up right against your stomach. Then I went home and mailed in my two weeks’ notice. They told me not to bother coming in, seeing as how I hadn’t even really started yet. Hopefully I can still use them as a reference, because I was nothing but professional.

So I took that beer-selling thing and I put my computer on it, and I started walking around in circles in my living room, typing while I walked. It was like the treadmill desk, but much cheaper. Like I didn’t have to go out and buy a treadmill. I thought it was a genius move. Unfortunately, I wasted all of that time going to the baseball stadium and filling out application forms when I should have been writing, or at least sitting there thinking of stuff to write about. And that thought got me all anxious and nervous, like maybe I wasted so much time that it’s going to take me forever to get back to where I once was. And as I got nervous and anxious I started pacing around in that circle with my laptop in front of me even faster. Faster and faster. And I didn’t know it, but I had left the computer plugged in. And my computer came with one of those magnetic chargers, so that way if it gets yanked out it will just easily detach without doing any serious damage. But I thought it was a little insulting of the computer company to not trust me with such an expensive machine. What am I a little kid? Plus, they should want me to break it, because then I’ll have to go back to buy a new computer. So I superglued the charger right to the charging port. But, like I said, I was pacing around faster and faster and I was so worried, so riddled with these negative ideas running through my head, these ideas screaming at me, telling me, “Hey Rob! You might as well stick with the beer-selling job, because you blew it! You’ll never be a writer! You’ll never think of anything interesting to write about ever again! Bwahahahaha!” And while I was pacing, I don’t even know how this happened, but the power chord started wrapping itself around my legs. It was loose at first, but every lap I made around the living room made it just a little bit tighter. And this is probably my own fault, because I went out and bought an unnecessarily long computer charger, like it had to be like twenty or thirty or forty feet long, because one time I was watching a TV show on my computer, and the computer couldn’t reach to the table where I wanted to watch it on, and I’ll never rest a laptop on my lap, because I can just feel the heat of the computer irradiating my insides, so I moved the table just close enough to where it just barely made it. But the computer chord was so tight that it didn’t even touch the floor, it just made a taut straight line right to the wall outlet. And then my dog, who was sitting perfectly still, decided to have this manic burst of energy and started bounding through my place, and I knew he was eventually going to run right into the chord and send the whole computer crashing to the floor. So I just said, forget it, I don’t need to watch this TV show, and I put the computer away before any damage was done. The next day I got up and went to the Home Depot and bought some industrial strength superglue remover. I removed the pathetic short chord, bought this ridiculously oversized chord, superglued that to the computer, and then watched TV on my laptop for like a whole week straight.

I thought I had it all figured out. But here I was pacing around my living room as thirty or forty feet of computer chord wrapped itself around my legs. All of the sudden I took a step and something gave. I looked down and my legs were wrapped completely together, like a mummy, and I was falling. I went to reach for something to grab onto, to steady myself, but the closest thing was my computer, and that was already anchored to me, so it did nothing to stop my fall. And the computer went flying. And all of my writing, gone. Wasted. I always turn auto-backup off, because I hate the idea of having a computer automatically save every word that I write. What if I want something deleted? What if I get so famous someday that, generations from now, there are entire departments at each university dedicated solely to studying my every word? And what if they study my works so thoroughly, and they realize that, they did it, they completely unraveled and deconstructed everything that I had to say? But it’s not enough. They need more. What will future generations study? So they decide to go after my old computers and look through the archives of my autosave folders to see if the hard drives held onto snippets of writing that I deemed unworthy of saving. And they’ll look through them and be completely disgusted. They’ll realize that they had put me and my writing on this artificial pedestal, that they had created this ideal me, this perfect writer incapable of even writing one bad sentence, of even misspelling a single word, and then they’ll see this rubbish and the whole illusion will come crashing down. And the very next generation will hate me, despise me for ruining these once respected departments at all of these fine colleges and universities.

But then, when I came crashing down because I was too cheap to buy a real treadmill-desk, I remembered that this whole exercise came from the fact that I couldn’t think of anything to write about in the first place, and so it didn’t matter if I destroyed that computer, because there wasn’t anything there to begin with. I didn’t have anything to say that day. Sometimes I just can’t think of anything. My mind’s just totally empty. I just don’t know what I’m going to do.