Writing From the Public Library

Write About Anything You Want

I am at the public library. I am here for more reasons than checking out a book. My internet is down at home and my computer is acting up and I’ve been wanting to publish a few posts. The library is the perfect solution with one exception-this is not your typical library, not by a long shot! It’s very, very, noisy here.

I am at the public library. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate. In order to write I have to sit at one of the public tables or use the library’s computers which limit me to one hour.

Right now, I am sitting at a table with two men. One is about sixty although he may be younger but is hidden under a huge beard. He is wearing a large hat on top of his long salt and peppered hair which is braided and hangs down over gold colored coveralls. He is never seen without these coveralls which hang over very big workboots.

I usually see him when I visit this little library. But sometimes I see him staring at me from the window of his little Ford pickup as we’re rolling past each other on the street. He always nods or says hello. He’s seems like a pleasant man although he looks gruff. His name is John. I know this because I hear the other patrons call him by his first name. John uses the library chair as if it is his own recliner.

The other man is young (to me) in his thirty’s. He wears thick cokebottle glasses. He sits at this table five days a week working on his pc. I don’t mean that his computer is broken. He volunteers for the library and researches whatever they need him to. He is a quiet type rarely smiling or looking up from his computer.

It is difficult for me to focus at this table. I feel as though nothing is private.  I do not have tunnel vision and even if I had earplugs and blinders on it would be impossible for me to do any serious writing, that is-writing other than about what is happening around me. So the title of this post being what it is-to write about anything you want-is a good one. One might wonder why I don’t move. There are only two tables with outlets close enough to plug my computer into. My computer is short on battery life. The other table is full.

Our librarian and her assistants are all very friendly as with most libraries. However they are unique because they are gregarious and very entertaining. Many patrons come up to the desk to get their books ‘time stamped’ (literally stamped like they did 50 years ago) and leave with a bit of town gossip or advice. This is not done with whispers. It’s shared in big voices with no sense of privacy. When I first moved to this community and frequented the library, I thought their open policy was a bit too much; Now I think it’s charming, even though-

I am at the public library.

Coming into this small town library to  write about anything I want I can even bring Sunni, my dog with me and she is not a service dog. I can stop by the local bakery and get a bagel with coffee and bring those in with me. It’s almost like my own Starbucks in a town lacking any cafe whatsoever. Oh we have a bakery-restaurant, and a Broiler, a Mexican restaurant and a coffee drive – thru. But no Starbucks or Peets. No McDonald’s or Wendy’s. No Walmart or Target. I think now they would ruin the character of this little town.

I feel John staring in my directions so I wonder why I always look up from my keyboard. But I do.

“How are you?” He says.

“I’m ok. You?”

“You been here long?”

“About 18 months.”

“You like it here?”

“I have mixed feelings,winters…they’re too damp.”

“Where ya’ from?”

“California.”

“Gonna go back?”

“No. I think I’ll stay here awhile.”

John shakes his head in approval and sits quietly for a few more minutes.

After letting out a huge sigh, he gets up from the table and tells me and the young man to have a nice day.

Everything is different in a small town. It takes some getting used to. My earlier posts had a flavor of frustration likely due to my having been thrust into moving here before I was ready. I missed my own town of 70,000. We are all of 4,000 here.

After 18 months, I am making a fine adjustment. How can I tell? Maybe it has something to do with the public library?

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How Far Will This River Take Her

How Far Will This River Take Her

Sunni stares down river picking out every scent the breeze sends her way. I read her body language and it tells me she would give up dinner for one chance to jump in and chase her imagination. After several attempts I finally got her calmed down and she realized she must stay…We enjoy standing on this dock but I know how much more fun could be had with a boat, a raft, even a fishing pole. We might even have caught dinner. Oh well. For now, we take in the breeze and sound of this river. I soak up these simple pleasures and wonder if Sunni realizes what relief these things bring from a complicated world. I bet she does.

That Wasn’t Me

These past few weeks have been so challenging to me physically, mentally and emotionally that I have been unable to get a post of any significance out. I have written every single day but dumped every single day. A few words made it out and so did my disappointment. Today I decided it didn’t matter. Whatever I feel I am going to write and I am not going to dump. But whatever was going on – is going on…I think this morning was an indication of why I didn’t feel I could write. 

It was early this morning as I went back to bed. Knowing I would not be able to go back to sleep (because I rarely can), I grabbed my phone. I’ll just ease myself awake. I needed to hear some of my favorite songs-something to awaken gently that aching body after a broken night’s sleep. I knew I had previously downloaded an artist who’s voice had won me over some time ago. Too early for my glasses, I squinted as usual with just the right tension to pick out the gold and black earphone app and selected Brandi Carlile.  There’s is something about her voice for me, that gently rocks me. I can’t say what it is. I want to compare her to Ronstadt, but there is no comparison. I think of the clear, bell-like sound of Sarah McLachlan, and I realize Carlile’s voice is something in between. It has a purity, yet it’s got the pleading voice of a child. It sometimes sounds like a haunting voice. Whatever it is-It takes me to another space. I am at once elevated spiritually and broken all at the same time.  And with each note this morning, I felt myself resisting the minor chords-I didn’t want to go there. But I did. Maybe I needed to go there. And even though it turned into a mess before my day even began, I was hooked and willing to listen to more. To me, Carlile is the therapist-the sister who gives me the time of day and she is telling me: “Hang on just hang on for a minute-I’ve got something to say...” with that first cut. When, “That Wasn’t Me” plays, my reflections and pain are wrapped up thinking about the metamorphousis of my son, his transformation from addiction-jail-unemployment and finally prison.
This is a big story waiting to get out on paper or computer.

“What Did I Ever Come Here For,” Carlile’s second on my playlist, begins again with a piano introduction and then…”I’d been gone for so long- and how I missed you-oo- my heart was aching for home…” My eyes began to flood. I am aching for home. I’m aching for those who made up home at one time. Is home a place? A person? Or both?

With each phrase that echoed from my tiny speaker phone, my heart pained me. And while I admit trying to sing in that pitiful state I didn’t care because no one was around to hear me but Sunni.
 “…i dreamt that i heard you call my name- but my mind was playing games…i knew right then that i returned – to where i was before and I was so tired of being away that I just couldn’t stay anymore. What did I ever come here for.”

What did I ever come here for?

I was mourning a place. Still feeling out of my element here. It’s been a year and last month was the anniversary of my move to Oregon as well as the anniversary of a marriage gone wrong. FEBRUARY. The month I moved from California-the month I married-the month my divorce was final. The all collided in February. Perhaps that’s why I could’t write. I didn’t understand what I was stuffing. Now I do. It doesn’t mean I understand how to fix it because some things can never be fixed-just hurdled. I am jumping hurdles. And for now if I stop in front of one, go back and start again, mistakes and all- well I guess that’s part of the growth I still need to do. I’m glad for it-in a way. Not for the grief…but for the challenge. I didn’t really get it this morning while I was wallowing in my pain. I’m not understanding all of it now. I’m just trying to be honest with myself and OFF THE CUFF.