Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Girl Who is Always Crying in the Public Library (P.S. It's Me)

I don’t have an office. I have a desk in my bedroom, but is so piled with books, and bills, and garbage that I couldn’t possibly sit there and work. But, I might be persuaded to clean up the junk mail and old wireless box, and the 27 copies of my 40 page critical thesis, if it weren’t for Thing One and Thing Two popping in and out of the room at random. Actually, I could get a lot of work done sitting right here in this chair in my living room if the two of them were asleep or at school for more than 3 hours a day. Life being what it is, I have made the Seattle Public Library my preferred place for writing (I mean real writing, not this blogging business I do before I watch crime drama for the rest of the night). 
I tried writing at coffee shops. The “cool” independent places that have rustic, mismatched tables and chairs, play music that I would listen to on my iPod, and have blueberry muffins that I would drive out of my way for (Zoka), are usually already full of “cool” people. If I thought I could set up my office in one of the restrooms I might try to go there more often—for the muffins. But even if I did have a place to put my computer, their customer service emotes that dreary Seattle attitude that makes me want to make little nasal sniffs at my own jokes and roll my eyes at things. I’m pretty sure I do enough of that on my own. Damn good coffee, though.
I tried writing at Starbucks, which I somehow do not count as a coffee shop, and I don’t feel like I really have to explain why. They have amazing customer service, my coffee always tastes the same (I like consistency in these areas), and there is almost always a place to sit—at least at the ones I frequent out here in the middle of North Seattle. But, the music at Starbucks is BAD. That’s right, all caps BAD. Every once in a while they play a song I like, and then I immediately hate it because I am sitting at a table that is too small for my computer, I can hear the jolly baristas having a private party back behind the bar, and everything is so awful and loud and green.
So I write at the library now. Remember the library? The place where they rent books for free? There is nothing quite like surrounding yourself with unlimited resources at your disposal—oh wait, there is Google. But really, I like the library because it feels like the same place to work every day, but every day there is a different character to study.
For some reason I picked an old library in moderately sketchy part of town. Sometimes I will sit down and be bombarded by the sounds of people hacking and snorting. So many bodily functions can be heard at a place without a stereo.  Once I sat next to a man that was moaning and coughing, then he would get up and pace around the stacks, then sit back down and moan some more. I almost moved. Almost. Another time I saw a guy rolling his own cigarettes on the nice, flat, laminated surface of the public tables. People frequently get kicked out for being asleep. Sometimes I see mothers sitting in there so their babies can take a nap. Those are the people that make me sad, the women with small children who have nowhere else to go. I take my kids to the library all the time for the same reason, not to nap, but because we have nothing else to do.  At least at the end of our trip we have a place to take our books.
It is strange how, in a way, I feel like I am exactly like all these library characters. I’m that girl with the tweed coat who comes in with her red computer. The girl who sniffs a lot (because she has perpetual allergies/colds). I’m the girl who sits in the corner next to the round window so I can see what’s happening out on the street behind the giant rhododendrons. I’m the girl who is always writing things way too personal for the library—that girl who is always crying in public.

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