VACANCY – THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE

Circa 2009
Fore head with the word Vancancy

It’s that awful time again when I sit down at the computer, hoping to come up with a clever column. The problem is, I’ve got nothing. I’m just not feeling it right now. I’m not motivated to write about global warming, politics, the economy or even football. Crazy, isn’t it?

Sorry. It’s just that nothing’s biting me, which leaves me without something to write. Usually there’s an item that I can snatch out of the headlines, like a dingo eating a baby, a celebrity getting arrested, a song about girls kissing girls. But this time I’m just not seeing it. Maybe I don’t want to see it. Maybe I’m just content to stumble around in the dark. If Seinfeld could do a whole sitcom around nothing, then surely I can do an article on the same subject.

Good. That’s two paragraphs down. At least I’m no longer staring at a blank screen. I wish I could say the hard work is over, but there’s still a lot of room left on this page. Life is like that: Each day is a blank page, and somehow we fill it up. A minute is a word. A day is a sentence. A week is a paragraph. In a month you’ve lived a chapter. One day, when your book is done, you go to that big library in the sky, and trust that some angel will find a place for you on the shelf. If my book doesn’t fall behind the stacks, I should be the humor section.

My phone is ringing. Thank God! Hold a second…

Okay, I’m back. That was the Leukemia Foundation. They want money, but they’re getting nothing. I didn’t use my real voice when I took the call. I used my timid Jewish guy voice. It’s one of my favorites. I know the Leukemia Foundation doesn’t know my real voice, but the disguise helps me. I don’t feel like a heel for not making a contribution, because it wasn’t me being stingy, it was the timid Jewish guy. Even better, taking the phone call means I can put off writing a bit longer.

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I’m chewing on a pencil now. Is that sick or what? I can’t help but wonder how many people have already slobbered on this filthy utensil. What if I get lead poisoning? Lead poisoning may have killed off the Romans. Their dining plates were all painted and, as many of us know, paint at that time contained lead. (I threw that in because I’d feel terrible if my article didn’t provide some educational element.) Oh, that’s right, pencils are no longer made of lead. Well then what if I get slobber poisoning? I’m putting the pencil down now. Time to get back to the matter at hand. This writing about nothing sure is time consuming.

My bad. I had to stop and check my email. I hadn’t done it in six minutes, so I was long overdue. Wow, I have three new emails. Unfortunately, they’re all spam. Who came up with the name spam? I like it. It has a connotation of “crap.” I know I’ll check my mailbox several more times before I finish this paragraph. It’s an addiction, but a silly, worthless one. At least with other addictions you get high. I’ll guarantee you someone will forward me something in the next two minutes. I’ll read the first line then delete it. Funny how we spend our short time here on Earth.

What to do? What to do? Right now I’m moving things around on my desk. It looks better. I never throw anything away. Who knows when I’ll want to reread a piece of junkmail, or get the urge to pay a bill? If we knew when we would die, no bills would get paid. Desks would remain a mess.

Okay, back to the column. If someone asks you what you’re reading right now, you can safely say, “Oh it’s nothing.” You won’t be lying. It’s seems simple, but it’s hard writing nothing. It’s just as hard as writing something, and takes just as long. Either way, you still have to think about what you’re writing. Fortunately, there’s no research involved, which makes my life easier, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

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I’m looking out the window now, and there’s a lot out there that I could write about. For instance, how does a leaf know when to fall off a tree? And when it does, is it sorry it did? There’s no going back. The same with my articles. Once I write a paragraph there’s no going back. It is what it is. I could probably change it but I’ve never been a big fan of time and effort. I’m sure that’s why I’ll never be a great writer. No problem; I’m just aiming for “okay” anyway. Mediocrity puts far less pressure on me

Look at that squirrel with nuts.

Okay, back to work. Nothing should come easy, but believe it or not I’m struggling with this thing. I look around my office, hoping to find something to distract me. The cat pops in from time to time. Today I don’t mind if he jumps on my lap. Now there’s an expert on nothing. This furry creature barely lifts a paw all day. I envy him. Speaking of cats, a catnap doesn’t sound too bad right now. Maybe I’ll get lucky, and dream about something to write.

I hope in no way I’ve disappointed you, my three readers. In my next article, I’ll try to provide you with something more substantive. But don’t hold your breath.

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by Jeff Charlebois

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