Time goes by and you forget how to write, again and again. Why is it that we are so baffled by blankness, so rattled by setting out?

Outside, the towels hang limply on the clothesline. The sky is gray. The plum tree has new plums but no architecture. It has not been reined in by humankind. One branch stretches out over the uncut grass. Another branch hangs over the fence where there used to be a wall of lemon trees, but now it’s just open sky and a savage dog, waiting for an inflatable ball to drift over so she can rip it to shreds. There are tender young plums, making a go at it. They don’t need cynicism. Another branch points towards the window, towards the house, as if to say, “Humans, fertilize me!”

As I sip more “Awake!” tea, the clouds begin to thin, the towels look a little fluffier, and I wonder if those plums just might make it in spite of me.

Meanwhile the washer is broken. Dirty clothes are piled up all around me. If I open the door and look at the washer, it will look at me with eyes nearly closed and whisper, “F-21.” That’s the error code. It also may be a bomber or a fighter jet. The F-21 doesn’t shoot rockets; it shoots dirty underwear and smelly socks. It blows up hip summer outfits and leaves you stuck home in your team-building exercise ’99 t-shirt, waiting for the Kenmore Calvary to ride up Fruitvale Avenue and rescue you.

I’m convinced, again and again, that the hardest part about writing is not the writing, it’s the not writing, the waiting for writing to begin. It is staring at the blank page and trying to figure it out with your brain, your eyes scrunched up and across your forehead, in careful green L.E.D. lines, the scrolling error message, “F-21.”

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