The Writer's Block

LA MESA -- Today I got up early and drove down to Kettner Boulevard to do what's called a press check at Neyenesch Printers. That's when the press stops, the pressman hands me a press sheet,  I and I tell him if it looks perfect before they print 5,000 of it. This morning's press check went very well, as they always do. We shook hands, he walked me to my car and said "be safe." 

I drove home heading east toward the sun on the 8, happily in the opposite direction of the morning rush.  Eight-thirty on a weekday is a busy drive heading west from La Mesa.  (I know that's not news to most people who have to drive to work on the freeways, but as someone who only rarely drives early in the day, I am always surprised by how many drivers there are.)  I try and be as courteous as possible and always give a thank you wave when someone let's me in.  It's like a giant family all of us in our cars, each of us heading somewhere different, but joined together for a moment on that stretch of the highway.  Of Life...

When I got to my store, I turned on the lights, watered the flowers, filled the dog water bowl with fresh water and sipped my coffee.  I love my store.  Even when there are no customers and even when the street is quiet at my end of La Mesa Blvd I love my store.   I returned phone calls, took a couple of orders, took a few bites of my left-over Bo-beau hamburger (with egg) and prepared to write, first a few thoughts for the day for subscribers to my daily thought and then, ideally, some ideas for new cards.

I looked at my laptop screen, the screen in TextEdit. It was blank and white.  So, I played a round of Words With Friends with my grandson on my iPhone.  Then I had some more coffee and polished off the rest of the burger from Bo-beau, giving silent thanks that I had gotten it with the fried egg.  "Such a good deal for only a dollar extra," I said to my store companion, a Portuguese Water Dog puppet named Scraps.

Then it was back to the laptop screen.  Nothing there yet. Still blank. 

"I know!" I said to my faithful black and white puppet,  "Orange juice! I'll have some orange juice.” So I got up and grabbed the jug of Trader Joe's orange juice that I keep in the fridge.  Glass in hand, I poured the juice.  "Wasn't it kind of God to invent oranges?" I asked Scraps.  I know he was thinking, "Yes. Very."

Then a customer from Pennsylvania called with an order. She said it was 14 degrees. "Please don't tell me how warm it is there, " she said.  "It's in the 70s today, " I replied without thinking.  "I asked you not to tell me!” she said. So as an apology, I offered a half dozen each of the two baby cards that were being printed today at Neyenesch. It seemed like the right thing to do, especially since I was fresh off my freeway camaraderie mood from earlier.  The waving thanks for courteousness. The slowing down to let someone into my lane drive on the highway. Of life...

Order taken, phone call over, I returned my attention to my laptop.  Still nothing. " I work on Writer's Block.”   "Get it?" I asked Scraps.  "Writer's Block?  You know, when nothing comes out of your head or pen?  But also Writer's Block because I work on the 8200 Block. And I'm a writer. “  Scraps just looked at me silently. Loyally. Then a thought popped into my head. A productive, fresh and wonderful thought!  I said it out loud:

"You are the finest friend I've ever had.  No.... You are the finest friend I've ever KNOWN.  Known is better than had, don't you think?"  Of course Scraps didn't say anything. ( He is a puppet, I know.)  

I was off the writer's block and into the forward motion of thought and creativity again!  Looking at dear little Scraps made me think about the excellence of friendship with his silent yet attentive listening. Like only the best of friends do. There's no interrupting or opining.  Just patient listening. I wrote down the text and drew an accompanying sketch.  Goodbye blank screen.  Goodbye blank drawing paper...

So, included in my next print job will be a brand new card that has a cute little black and white dog on it and the card will read,

"You are the finest friend...I've ever known." 

It turns out, Writer’s Block was just a little, and temporary, detour off my usual highway. 

Of life.

Chris Shea is the proprietor of Life Sighs, a creative card shop on La Mesa Boulevard in The Village.

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Tags: Bo-beau Kitchen + Garden, Chris Shea, La Mesa Today, La Mesa news, On La Mesa, Writer's Block


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Comment by Michael Cargill on January 25, 2014 at 12:59am

Hmmm, one of my former girlfriends had an entire room filled with stuffed animals of all kinds. This brings back fond memories. A fantastic piece of literature as usual Chris! Thank you!

Comment by chris shea on January 23, 2014 at 9:20am
Yes he is. Occasionally dogs will wander in to check him out. Often thy seem a bit wary of his stealth and silence.
He's my store guard dog, a gift from my sister.
Comment by Marie McLaughlin on January 23, 2014 at 9:14am

So Scraps is a plush puppet?  No wonder he looked too cute to be real.  I must admit Scraps lured me into reading your article, but it was a charming read.  He will look great on your greeting cards.

Comment by chris shea on January 22, 2014 at 9:07pm
Thanks very much, Lisa. I appreciate your kindness.
Comment by Lisa Moore on January 22, 2014 at 8:56pm

Thank you Chris for a great article :-)  Always enjoy your sharing on life's little happenings in La Mesa!

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