The Story of Us

I've not been writing a lot lately. I mean, I'm blogging here and there -- but even though this site remains my main outlet for words, there's always a clear difference between the times I'm sort of reporting the events in my life, the times I'm venting because I'm pissed off and don't really have anywhere else to unload it all, the times I'm just screwing around for fun, and the times when I really dig into a topic, delve underneath the surface to try to examine ideas and motivations, and see just how far I can pull the thread away from the sweater before the whole thing falls apart.
The problem is, right now I'm not really doing any of these at all.
I don't know -- I could easily over think it all and try to identify some sort of psychological reason behind it all, especially because if you look back through my history of blogging and online journaling, it's a pattern that repeats itself at least once or twice a year. Sometimes I just don't have the desire to write here. Sometimes I just sit in front of the keyboard and there's nothing in my head at all.

But sometimes there are things I want to write about. Very specific ideas that I want to discuss, examine, and figure out. Except that when I sit down to put it all into words, the connection between everything swirling around in my mind and the words I need to describe them just don't seem to be there.
Writer's block.
It's different from disinterest. It's not like times when you have other things to do. I'm talking about the times when you really want to say something -- but cant figure out the way to get started, can't find the patience to just sit down and explain it on the page, can't be satisfied in any shape or form with any word you type.

Times like that present a unique sort of frustration, especially with people who like to express themselves in words. Because it's supposed to be something you're good at. It's supposed to be something you love. But just like everything we love -- sometimes there's nothing easier to feel like you hate. Hate because you love it, especially when it seems like it doesn't love you back.
Which sometimes makes you wonder if it ever really loved you at all.
I know that sounds overly dramatic, but that's what it's like sometimes. It's like those days in a long relationship where you start to quietly wonder if the other person is using your desires against you, that they're only in it for the place to live, the money to spend, or whatever else sometimes seems like it's more important in their lives than you.

I mean, we all have our flaws, we all take other people for granted once in a while -- but every now and then even in the best relationships it's like one person gets something in their eye and starts to see things the wrong way. You get tired of those same quirks that were once cute. You get wrapped up in the importance of things that you previously had no problem compromising on, but still sorta feel like you're getting shafted over.
It's one of the worst things a relationship can encounter -- those times where
nothing is really wrong, but you still quietly worry that things aren't good enough.
So in effect, this is sort of me telling writing that we've been together long enough, you'd think I wouldn't have to tell you to put down the toilet seat when you're done using it. And would it kill you to replace the toilet paper roll once in a while?
And then writing is like, "I can't believe you're hitting me with all this shit right now while we're supposed to
be enjoying this oh-so-romantic meal together at Applebee's. Honestly, could you have picked a better time?"
And then we drive home in silence and don't talk for a while.
So perhaps what I'm going through now (in a manner of speaking) are those really sucky couple of days afterwards where you're all like "Hey, honey? I just wanted to say that your outfit looks really nice. I'm gonna take out the trash now, k?"
But you know how that goes -- she ain't having it.
Eventually things will cool off, or we'll have some really fantastic angry make-up sex -- but until that happens, we're left with all of this uncomfortable silence.

The key in these situations (as a writer) is to not lose hope in your abilities. Because it's not the words that are the problem -- it's the inspiration. The connection between the ideas in your head and the desire to translate them into language. Language that you use everyday, even if sometimes it's just to talk to your coworkers or order more Chinese take out over the phone.
And perhaps that's part of the problem.
Because no matter what you write, how much people like it, or how much feedback you get -- sometimes it just feels like words. It just feels like all you're doing every day is waking up, getting the kids ready for school, going to work, calling each other about this and that during the day, picking up the kids, nuking something for dinner, helping with homework, watching a little TV, brushing your teeth, watching Letterman while she reads, clicking the lights off, and then retreating to your side of the bed to try and sleep while you wonder what the hell happened.
It's a bad place to be -- but it does happen sometimes.
The key is how you deal with it. The ways you keep your perspective. The ways you spice things up instead of letting them get old and then resenting them without realizing that it's probably just as much your fault as anyone else's.

One of the ways writers specifically can deal with this is to keep writing. But instead of trying to force something your heart isn't in at the moment, you go another way. You write about something else. So for example if your strength is in fiction writing, in far away characters and spectacular settings -- and you can't find that spark the way you usually do (or worse, you get caught up in admiring your past work and worry that anything new won't adequately compare), then it's a good practice to break away from it, write a few personal essays. Step outside of your comfort zone a little -- maybe review a restaurant, or do a travelogue about a vacation you took.

For example, some of the stuff that Stephen King is writing these days is laughable, especially considering some of his other work, and his overall reputation. But honestly, I'd rather ignore ten books he writes about old cars and baseball than endure another mailed-in piece of crap like Desperation.
And we've all read books by authors we love that made us want to hate them.
One of my absolute favorite writers is Haruki Murakami, whose historical accounts of the nerve gas attacks on the Tokyo subways should be utterly fascinating -- but in truth are kinda dull. I felt similar disdain for many of the Spin magazine articles written by Chuck Palahniuk, the children's books written by Neil Gaiman, or those oh-so-snobby wine reviews that helped Jay McInerney get off the schnide between novels. But I've grown to understand them a bit more over the years, especially when I found myself unable to get past the point of putting the blank page into the typewriter, and sliding my chair up to a good spot in front of the table.

And so, faced recently with my own little writing drought -- I had decided that the best way for me to break out of it was to find something innocuous to attack, some side topic that I could sink my teeth into a bit -- maybe get the wheels turning enough that I wouldn't feel so blocked when it came to trying to work through some of the real issues that have been plaguing my mind and making me a dreary emo mess lately.

And this weekend it seemed that I had finally found it. The perfect topic. The perfect target.
Because this was the weekend that I found what might be the single most racially offensive thing that the Walt Disney Company has ever attempted to foist upon the youth of the world:
A wigger dog. A talking. Wigger. Dog.

It was as if god himself had shone a blinding light into the Blockbuster video store that I went into with my son on Friday afternoon and said "This is a little something I like to call Snow Buddies. it's a film your son will enjoy watching, but if you're patient there might just be a little something in there for you too."

I swear that what's left of my hair turned completely white the first time that mutt showed up. It was all I could do to stumble down Mt. Sinai to spread the word to the masses about what I had seen --
A golden retriever puppy. With bling. Repeatedly uttering the phrase "Crackalakin."
Seriously -- you know that moment, that point after months of complaining to your friends that your significant other seems to have totally forgotten about anything in the world that doesn't have to do with gardening -- where you're more or less robotically holding the door open for her so she can bring in the groceries and as she walks by you catch a hint of the fragrance in her hair, and then realize as she walks by that she's wearing that one pair of jeans (you know the ones) that make her ass look fantastic, the ones she wore that one time.. on the beach.

And she's trying to set down the shopping bags and catches you staring with that look in your eye, and she's suddenly caught off guard, saying "What?.. Is there something wrong with my outfit? Why are you looking at me like.. that?"
Hey kids, go play outside for a while.
Mom and dad have some groceries to put away.

[Listening to:  Skrape"Bleach" ]