“You have no new messages.”

The “phone lady” can be very cold.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think she worked at the

Sometimes, I think I’d be better off if I never heard her
indifferent voice again. Yet, that is as unlikely as seeing Bill O’Reilly and
Rosie O’Donnell slow dancing cheek to cheek while Prince’s “Nothin’ Compares 2
U” resonates through the ballroom.

(There’s a visual for all you crazed infotainment

I try and think of new things to talk about every week and
try to take random subjects that aren’t necessarily related and tie them
together in a way that is enjoyable and possibly profound to the people that
enjoy perusing my weekly paragraphs in this little coastal paper.

Yet, there are times when creativity comes to a crashing halt,
and free thought doesn’t come so freely. Most people would call this “writer’s
block”, and those that wouldn’t have at least heard of it. Some writers fear
the contraction of writer’s block and would actually become vaccinated if it
were as easy as simply getting an annual shot. Others simply debate the
existence of it like it’s a couple theologians arguing if there really is a
place called “Hell.”

There are others that obviously have not written anything
more than a grocery list that just consider “writers block” a ridiculous
problem that creative people complain about, and that it lacks any tangible
grounds for actual worry (by anyone that isn’t dumb enough to write for a

While struggling with what I guess could be considered a
mild case of writer’s block (even through it was more analogy and structure
based blockage) I was trying to think of something to compare writer’s block to
someone that is of the “Paper Bag Writers” category.

As trivial as it seems, when I can’t think of ideas or
downright have a lack of things to say, it troubles me.

The only thing I could come up with to get the person to
understand this feeling of failure or uneasiness is the time when you don’t
receive any phone calls or messages throughout an entire day.

When all you need is a phone call, and the “phone lady”
dashes your hopes with a cold and robotic “you have no new messages.”

That sinking feeling is what writer’s block feels like.

At that moment, I realized a topic had been laid in front
of me in the oddest of fashions, and a query to present to the world (and by
world I mean, this 10-mile stretch on the Eastern Shore)

It is a simplistic question, and it is simply this:

What do you consider to be more upsetting: When you have
nothing new or interesting to say or if no one has anything new or interesting
to say to you?

There are people that can talk until they are blue in the
face about nothing in particular, and though some have argued that writers
simply fit into this category but get paid for it only because they have some
knowledge of the AP-writing style pyramid; I think that there are a lot of
people that haven’t had a real conversation in a very long time.

Here’s an analogy that fits for Ocean City: When was the
last time that you went seven full days without having any drink with alcohol
in it?

Likewise, when was the last time that you had a
conversation for more than 15 minutes that didn’t directly involve you, your
family, or your job?

There are some people that like to listen, and be
entertained while there are others that are on the constant hunt for new
information and inevitably like to talk about it.

Silence bothers me, and though I know that is certainly an
unhealthy thing, is it worse than someone who only seeks peace and quiet at all

Does the constant search for truth or information make you
nuts or are you nuts if you just ignore what is going on around you and mind
your business?

Maybe healthy dosages and moderation is a good
prescription for all of us.

The problem is determining what a healthy dosage is for
each person.

I love that we live in an area that runs at a bit of a
slower pace, and things that you would find on the 48th page of a
newspaper are top stories. I truly like that, and it’s one of those things that
makes me breathe deeply in knowing that we live here all the time.

There is that side of me that just can’t enjoy the

Those are the times when I call the “phone lady.”

And I realize that no matter how bad my writer’s block is
or how ugly the hate mail gets, her job is way worse.

me at [email protected]