Writer’s block

My friend and former colleague, Tony Kiss died in August. John Boyle led the memorial service, which I think Tony would have loved.

Trust me, it’s a real thing.

It happens when my brain thinks it’s busy enough and doesn’t want to do any more.

“Knit,” it tells me. “You love to knit. It calms you.”

So, I knit for a little while. Nothing.

“You know,” I tell me, “we’re running low on bread. You should make bread.”

So I make bread. Still nothing.

“A nap,” I say.

No. I’m not a napper. Besides, I can’t fall asleep when I’m all keyed up like this.

You know, a walk in the woods always does wonders.

It does, but when I sit down at the keyboard, nothing happens.

It’s been a tough year, — we lost my brother-in-law to a long and debilitating illness — but things are finally settling down.

And then Tony Kiss died.

Damn. I knew he’d been sick and I wanted to visit, but I was running back and forth to Louisville, caring for my brother-in-law. I just couldn’t get there, and just as we finished up our final trip to Louisville, we got word.

Tony was my colleague and my friend. He was funny, and (we all like to use the word) quirky.

For a time, our desks were adjacent, and since both of us were packrats, the piles of paper and other stuff tended to overflow from his desk to mine. Sometimes, it would be a beer he was asked to review (I always knew before you did whether a new beer was worth the price). I once joked that if any beer landed on my side of the “divide,” I’d confiscate it.

Tony laughed, but then something lovely happened. I was having a terrible day — I don’t remember what was going on, but I was unhappy. I went out to do a interview, and when I came back, there were a couple of beers on my side of the divide. Tony was back-to me, so I said something. He turned around, smiled and shrugged. It happened a few times. His reaction was always the same: a smile and a shrug.

He loved to be the center of attention, and we all loved to hear his stories. He loved meeting important people, and then he delighted in telling the tales. As an entertainment writer, Tony got to meet a lot of important people, and we got to hear the stories, often over a couple cold beers.

I wish I’d found time to call him one last time, but I don’t think he’s the only friend I should have called awhile ago. I think I’ve drifted away from a lot of old friends since the pandemic hit. Maybe that’s part of this malaise. Perhaps it’s time to reconnect.

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