Writer’s Block

I am working on a novel and I have hit a terrible block.  I get up from the screen and go to the notebook. I drop the notebook and venture back to the screen.

I listen to people talk.  I read what others have written.  Yet, I still cannot put a complete thought onto a page or the neon screen that glares back at me.

So I ask you.  How do you deal with writer’s block?  Do you get up and walk away for ten minutes?  An hour? A day?  A week?  Do you have some sort of ritual to overcome this wall of defeat?  Do you start writing about something completely unrelated to what you have already started?

Infected By Football

When I was seven, I had been out playing Barbies with my little friends down the street and had enough of the girly power trips.  I sat with Barbie in hand while Barbie was ordered around by my sprightly friends.  “I think my mom is calling me for dinner,” I fibbed as I picked up Barbie’s belongings.

It was a Sunday, and that meant a big spaghetti and meatball dinner with my family.  Well, my family and about three of my dad’s good buddies.   My mom, sister and I would sit at the dinner table while my dad and his pals would sit on the couch with t.v. trays coupled with ice-cold cans of Bud as the sounds of whistles, boos and cheers came from the television.  Those were the sounds of professional football.

I noticed something on that first of many increasingly cold Sundays and that was that football was important.  I mean, to sit on the couch and not move except to run up the steps to go pee or to play darts for about ten minutes in the middle of whatever this football thing was, football had to be very important.

So one cool day in November, I sat on the floor next to where my dad sat on the couch and I started asking questions.   What were the flags for?  Why did that guy hit that other guy?  Why did a guy in an opposite uniform catch the ball?  My dad and his friends answered my questions while chuckling.

Some years went by and I was twelve now.  I remember being in English class and our teacher for the day was a substitute.  That substitute thought he’d keep us amused for the whole period by handing us a paper to match “NFL teams with cities”.  I matched all of them correctly in  six minutes.  The teacher couldn’t believe it.  The class couldn’t believe it.  Hell, I couldn’t even believe it.

It seemed knowing football was important.

When the Philadelphia Eagles went to the Super Bowl in 1980 and lost to the Oakland Raiders, I wasn’t too upset because I hadn’t quite grasped the devastation of losing a championship at such a young age.

When the Denver Broncos went to the Super Bowl in 1987 it was five days before my 14th birthday.  I’m not sure when or why I grew a fondness for the John Elway and the Denver Broncos.  Still very much a child, I had hand crafted signs on notebook paper doodled with orange and blue D’s and stick figured horses.  The number 7 was doodled on those pages as well, and even though I was a Philly native, that 7 was not for Ron Jaworski.

Denver was crushed by the New York Giants 39-20 that night in Pasadena, California.  When the game was over I ripped down my signs made with great care and cried.  My mom hugged me as she stroked my long, brown hair.  My dad and the rest of his slovenly crew were guffawing in the front room as they played darts.

I cried myself to sleep that night while I couldn’t get next season off my mind.

Selfish Suicide – Part One

Suicide is selfish.  Truer words have never been spoken.  Okay, truer words have been spoken.  But on the topic of suicide, there is no other way to really describe it.  I can say that I have been truly selfish once in my life.

It was a hot day in the middle of July 1996.  A whole host of events had led up to that day.  I was upset; disgusted. I really felt there was no other option.  How could I go on?  What shot did I have at a decent life?  I felt hopeless and weak.

I stood above the sink with a bottle of prescription muscle relaxers. The tap flowed as I put my plastic cup under the cold water. With a pile of pills in my hand and tears streaming my artificially tanned cheeks, I begged for a sign that I didn’t need to do this; that it would all be okay.   The telephone didn’t ring.  My cat didn’t meow. There was just the steady sound of running water.

I took the pills and chugged from the plastic cup.  There.  It was done.  I didn’t have to suffer anymore.  As I walked crying into the other room it hit me like a bolt of lightning. My life; others lives flashed before my eyes.  What the fuck was I doing?

I ran to the kitchen to take it back.  I put my head over the sink and rammed my fingers down my throat.  The harder I tried to make myself throw up the weaker I became.  It was in that moment that I begged God to forgive my sins.  I stumbled into the living room and collapsed on the floor.  That was the last thing I remembered.

I woke up in the hospital days later with no recollection of what I had done.  My mother was by my bedside and I asked her where I was.  She told me I had suffered a stroke and that my oldest daughter had found me dead.  Rescue was called that day I collapsed on the floor and they had worked on me for roughly twenty minutes before getting a pulse.

That day was July 19, 1996.  My mom would call on the nineteenth of July every year for the next eight to remind me of the progress I had made since I fell apart.

The stress of being a young mother of four children with a dead beat husband would make anyone fall apart.  My family was masterful at the cover up.

At about year six, I started to remember pieces of things. Events that seemed almost dream like flooded my mind.  As I remembered them, they overlapped each other like a poorly dubbed cassette tape.  I would mention these thoughts, these pieces of a movie almost, to my mother.  She would side step my notions quite gracefully.

At year seven I had called my mother.  I was excited.  I had a dream.  A violent dream, but nonetheless, a dream.  Now, you might think, so what?  We all dream.  And I know that I had dreamed every night since that hot day in July, but when I awoke from my sleep every morning, I had nothing.  A glimpse of anything that had run through my subconscious mind during the night never resurfaced in my head.

That dream meant so much to me.  It meant normalcy.  To dream meant that I was going to be okay.

I wish I could say that my life and the lives of my children returned to normal after that night in July.  I wish I could pretend that a glass of water and a bottle of muscle relaxers coupled with a dark state of mind didn’t alter so many paths.

The lives of my children would never be the same after that day.  My life warped into what seemed a strip of bad scene selections from a sub-par movie.

Hell Above

When I was an upstairs neighbor, I never realized how much power I had until I became the downstairs neighbor.  The upstairs neighbor has the power to put anyone living below through hell.

Add a two year old kid, a surround sound television and the fact that neither adult has a job, and you’ve dropped down a few levels in hell which is now painful on a tangible level. Oh, and steps; can’t forget about the steps.

I cannot figure out why they have to stomp up and down the steps that lead up to their lair.  Neither one of them weighs close to two hundred pounds.  Yet, every opportunity I get to sleep, the screen door bangs open and there goes one of Satan’s disciples down the stairs.  Bang, bang, bang, bang!  They must always forget something because back up they go.  Bang, bang, bang, bang!  And… back down again.

I am convinced that they have external speakers on a television with surround sound and that they lay them down on the floor above my bedroom while they blast some ridiculous program every time I need to lay down before I go to job number two.  It must sound better.  Perhaps I’ll try it.

The kid got a walker.  When kids should be sleeping, this kid is having the time of her life rolling back and forth on their wretched hardwood floors.  This coupled with the melody of what seems body slams from above is great to add to my night time television watching.

In the wee hours of the winter mornings they park in front of the building (I suppose because it is just too cold to walk the extra twenty feet to where everyone else parks) which is right outside our bedroom window.  The car idles for twenty minutes or so, allowing me to waking up to the smell of exhaust in the morning.    It’s a good thing I love coffee.

White cigarette butts sprinkle the dark stone drive outside.  I try to convince myself that they look like white rectangular pebbles, but my sense prohibits my imagination from entertaining the thought.

Finally, let us not forget about their little dog named Annie.  Annie is a small, fluffy white dog.  The female demon spawn likes to chant “treat, treat, treat, treat, treat!” whenever the dog doesn’t feel like coming in.  She does this at least six or seven times in a row louder and louder.  The dog is not a barker and is the most polite member of their boorish family, now that I give it some thought.  I am convinced the dog is looking for a way out.

Putting Some Clothes On

I was walking into the bank yesterday in my leggings and long form fitting sweater. The leggings were black.  The sweater gray with black horizontal stripes; black belt and black flats accessorizing my look.  My butt and boobs were tucked away.

This gentlemen – I use the term loosely – passed me and was looking at me oddly.  He then says, “Wow.  Look at that outfit.  Look at that outfit.”  Since I was having a less than secure day I kind of freaked out inside. What does that mean?  Do I look bad?  Do I look good?  Is my look mediocre?  Have you looked in the mirror lately pal? It seemed as though he had more to say, but before he could utter another word from his seemingly seedy lips, I ducked into the vestibule.

The rest of the day entailed me telling everyone who would listen about my momentary encounter with the stranger.  I suppose I was looking for validation.  I desperately needed someone to say, “your outfit is awesome! Nice! Super! ”

This was not the first time I have been in the presence of someone who thought it was necessary to let me know his or her feelings (which he didn’t really – he left it open to interpretation) about something that was really none of their business.

But maybe we need more of this.  I mean, have you looked around lately?

Men in muscle shirts two sizes too small with very little muscle, women wearing clothes that leave nothing to the imagination and on some of these women imagination is needed.

I’ll admit it.  When I was 20, 25, 30 and even 35 I walked around showing off as much of me as I possibly could.  I had a great belly at one time and every chance I got, out came the midriff.  I’d be at the bar or even the local corner store and I would get hit on or whistled at.  After this came my incensement as to why no one took me seriously and why guys only just wanted to have sex with me.

Really? It took me all those years to finally get it.  To get why the girls at the bar in the jeans and baggy t-shirts had boyfriends or husbands.  To get why there never was a phone call the next day, or week or month for that matter, after having sex with someone less than twenty four hours after meeting.

I was nothing more than eye candy.  If I had sex with you, then I was eye candy with the prize inside.  But all in all, just something nice to look at. Like that freaky shirt in the window that looks awesome with it’s shiny studs and peacock colors, but the beige shirt is more practical and so that is the one we buy.

I can still wear clothes like that but I don’t want to.  I realized that dressing like I am ready for my meeting at the local street corner still left me empty inside when I went home.

Men still check me out, and yeah, that feels nice sometimes.  But men also take me seriously.  More importantly, women take me seriously.  I never had female friends in my twenties and early thirties.  I thought it was because they were all bitches.  Then I thought it was because I was unlikable.  After I started putting some clothes on, I realized it was probably because I was unapproachable.

Ideas (unedited rant on writing)

I’ve read in a lot of books about writing that in order to get anywhere with writing it is necessary to write at least a page a day.  I was at one time trying to break into the fiction market.  I was writing at least five pages a day about whatever popped in my head and I would not stop until I reached five pages.  This type of writing is called free writing.

I stopped writing for a couple of years.  Life happened and I had to buckle down.  Being practical superseded trying to live my dream.  I am trying to break back into the market again.  However, this time I am going down a different road.  That is the article road.

I find this to be a lot more challenging than fiction writing.  See, in fiction writing, I could write whatever I wanted.  There is little requirement for facts in fiction writing.

Article writing requires a lot of facts.  Facts are not hard to come by.  Finding facts that are indeed facts and not an interpretation of the facts is the difficult part.

So I get out my notebook and I write a list of all of the things I would like to write about. Then I write facts in big bold letters next to each idea.

Sports, Motorcycles, Women, Abuse, Alcoholism, Running, Eating right.  These are some of the ideas I have jotted down.  Some of these ideas are articles in progress which may make it to my blog or may be a victim of the delete button.

I was fortunate enough to get a response when I posted a link to my blog here on my Facebook page.  A writer guy I am friends with on there gave me some good advice.  I have to love it and I have to keep writing.

Ideas come from living.  I have to reach deeper and pull out some of the stuff that may make me a little uncomfortable to write about.  This world certainly wasn’t built on playing it safe.   My writing won’t be built on playing it safe either, it seems.