Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Public space

I’m in a bookstore cafe writing today. A few feet away, a man is muttering to himself and intermittently yelling at his laptop and banging on his table. Everyone is now surreptitiously keeping him in view. He is a rather large man, neatly dressed in an olive green shirt and khaki slacks, and he smiled at me when I came in. I smiled back. The outbursts hadn't started then. Maybe he's doing a video chat because he's talking to that screen as if it's a person. And that person is making him mad.

I do love working in this light-filled place, sipping my skinny vanilla latte and people watching in between paragraphs. Every time I enter this store, the smell of books wafts over me like an aphrodisiac, putting me in the mood to write. There are two books on these shelves with my name on them, and in September there will be a third. 

Still, in such unsettled times, in public spaces one has to be aware. There's no telling who's completely harmless, who's quirky but kind, who's suffered trauma, who harbors a malign intent. We're all suffering from a kind of public PTSD. 

Did anyone see Rosie O'Donnell on The Beat With Ari Melber last night? Google it. She broke it down.


  1. well established view out the window, feels secure...however, one can never relax, it seems, - out in public, in this gun loving country full of insane trigger happy derangement. Always on my toes, always scoping out an escape. I did see Rosie last night and she is right on!

  2. Following up on Linda’s comment. My husband and I watch Live PD. Each time we are absolutely flabbergasted at how many people carry guns. Is it really that bad? We wanted to visit the U.S. last summer but won’t go now that Trump is in office. I know, it makes no difference but maybe if more people boycotted tourism... wel, no. Nothing will ever change that evil man’s path of destruction.

    I love Rosie O’Donnell. She is so strong and tells it like it is.

    I hope scary laptop man left without incident.

  3. "There are two books on these shelves with my name on them, and in September there will be a third."
    That is a dream I will never know the reality of and I hope that you know how proud you should be of yourself. How amazing that is.
    Rosie- Yeah.
    No wonder Trump hates her so much. She is all the things that he fears- a woman who is strong and who tells the truth and who could not possibly be tempted by his money. Who finds him repugnant and isn't afraid to say so.
    Both you and Rosie are women I would love to be when I grow up.
    Much love, sweet woman. Much love.

  4. It's true, we are all on higher alert than we used to be.

  5. It pays to be vigilant, but at the same time, one of my favorite things about working in urban cafes is watching all the characters. When I was transcribing my old journals I came across countless paragraphs about this or that odd person sitting next to me as I wrote, and they were always entertaining! I haven't seen that Rosie clip but I'll look for it.

  6. Angry people always scare me, they are unpredictable.

  7. I fled the big city buying this place outside a small town about 10 years ago gradually shifting our place of residence until we sold the city property 4 years ago. I do not miss the crush of angry impatient people. I much prefer looking out over the fields and pastures while I work. but how cool to sit in a bookstore cafe where you have two and nearly three books on the shelves!

  8. I don't know if I would have stayed in a place where someone was so visibly shaken and angry. With so much violence in the news lately, I would have gone straight into high alert and "how do I get out of here?" mode. I love that you go out and write though, and in a place that has two of your books on their shelves already. So cool!

  9. I love the idea that you are in a place where your work is displayed but how do you do it??? I have to turn my laptop away from the window at home to get anything done. I could watch grey sky if I had to.