by Valerie Nusbaum
Despite what you might believe, writing is hard work. If a writer has a good idea, the words can flow from the brain, almost more quickly than they can be written. When the ideas stop coming, then the problems begin. That’s where I am today. I have a column due next week and absolutely no idea what to write about.
The column is for the February edition, so it seems silly to write about the recent Christmas holidays. I’ve been there and done that already. Valentine’s Day has been done to death and, besides, there’s only so much I can say about hearts and flowers and romance without gagging. Groundhog Day? I could give you a brief history of how the tradition got started and then tell you that my in-laws were married on February 2, but I don’t know where to go from there. Let’s see…President’s Day? I guess we could discuss Washington and Lincoln and a few other Commanders in Chief. I could mention that I’ve been trying to memorize the names of the Presidents in order of service, and once I’ve mastered that, I plan to commit their terms and Vice Presidents to memory as well. I’m an American. I feel I should know that. I don’t believe I can come up with nine hundred words on that subject, though.
Randy really hasn’t done anything particularly funny lately. He’s working long days at his job, and we have a lot of family issues that we’re dealing with. There’s nothing of interest to my readers in that. This is supposed to be a light, humorous story, not something that will make you cry or fall asleep.
My brother is flying in from Montana for a short visit, and I could write about how we’re always happy to see each other, but we manage to get on each other’s nerves after two hours together. Some things never change. I’m planning to make a sign to hold up at the airport for him. You know how the limo drivers hold signs with their passengers’ names? My sign will read “Booger.” I’m trying to talk Randy into holding a sign reading “Bigg.” There might be a story in that for another time.
Our nephew sent us pictures of our grand-niece, Clara, playing inside a big cardboard box. That’s it. Not even a paragraph.
My mother suggested that I write about the time we were kids, and Mom was sledding with us at my grandparents’ house. Mom ran over Pap’s peach tree with the sled. She thinks that story is hilarious. You be the judge.
I’ve started three other columns and have left them all hanging. One was, indeed, about Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t finish it. Another one was about the month of February. Three paragraphs in and I was stumped. The third one was a piece of fiction about a girl who was allergic to flowers and chocolate. What was I thinking?
I was getting desperate, and then I remembered that right after Christmas I had read The Girl on the Train. I found that book very disturbing, and yet I couldn’t put it down. After I finished the book, I gave it to Randy and asked if he’d read it to see if he had the same reaction. Not being a big fan of “chick lit,” he read it and then said, “You’re darn right it was disturbing. I read the whole stupid book about those silly people, and the writer never once mentioned what kind of train it was.” His reaction cracked me up, but I didn’t think I could write a whole column around it.
I thought about writing something regarding weight loss since everyone seems to be trying to lose weight after the holidays. Then I remembered something else that Randy said recently. You see, he’s not a member of Oprah’s fan club. Now that Oprah owns a portion of Weight Watchers and she’s become their spokesperson, Randy is even more annoyed with her. We were watching television the other night and one of Oprah’s commercials came on. Randy looked over and said, “You know, someone should put Oprah and Marie Osmond in a room together and let them eat each other.” It took me a second, and then I figured out that Marie is a spokesperson for Nutri-Systems. Maybe a weight loss column is a good idea for another month, but I think I’ll leave Oprah out of it. And Marie.
So here I am with a whole lot of nothing. Life is like that. Sometimes it’s exciting and filled to the brim with action and adventure. More often than not, it’s like this. Stuff happens, but most of it isn’t worth repeating. And some of it can’t be repeated in polite company (most of my emails with my friend, Gail, fall in this category). We have appointments with our doctors and dentists, we get bills that need to be disputed, we have lunch or dinner with friends, and we spend time with our families. We can choose to grumble about things or we can smile and get on with it. Most of all, we can relax and enjoy the slow times. Trust me, it won’t always be this way.