Nov 16, 2006

Library: the Noisiest Place On Earth

Writers will do anything to find a good place to write. A place free of distractions, noise and frustration.

That rules out your own home, where the phone, fridge, family and cats keep you away from meaningful work. And for the past few days, my husband's computer is out being repaired. He has never asked, but when I see his downcast face, I offer to let him check his email from my laptop. Gives me an excuse to attend to the other distractions.

When looking for places to write, I used to go to Starbucks, where only the sound of the cappuccino machine, panhandlers, and uppity Venti Iced Mocha drinkers could distract me. But they always keep the room so cold so you're forced to buy Venti HOT mochas to stay awake.As long as the place stays loud, you can tune it out like white noise. But then it quiets down and an uppity Venti Iced Mocha drinker returns and complains that the ice wasn't icy enough.

The Library! Why, of course, the library is quiet! That's the place as a child, I'd get reprimanded if I as much as unwrapped a Jolly Rancher inside the door.

In the last week I have gone to LA City Library's Mar Vista branch, where it's relatively quiet ... until the junior high school around the corner lets out at 2pm. That's when all the under-16 kids show up and wait for the computers so they can log onto myspace. Which they're not supposed to be on if they're under 16. But the librarians can't do anything about that.

So the kids hover, trying to intimidate the current user with icy, plucked-brow stares, gum snapping and cell phone ringers. Yesterday, a couple of 14-year old Latinas sat down at my table, chattering in Spanish and kicking their legs, like young victims of Restless Leg Syndrome. They seemed set on driving me from my table. but I had a weapon: ear plugs. I could only hear the inflections of Spanish insults. They finally left, and then my friend Sibyl miraculously showed up and took the seat opposite me. But by then, my resolve was broken, so I came home and took a nap.

Today I went to the Santa Monica library. It's not around the corner from a junior high, and I'm not on the floor where the free computers are, and where uppity pre-teens and the computerless sit and wait to log onto porn websites.

However, I am sitting next to a couple of senior citizens who are hearing-impaired and speak loudly. Not even my ear plugs can block them out.

Another elderly gentlemen has taken it upon himself to move every stray newspaper to the go-back cart. Then he decides to move the newspapers to a different cart. One page at a time. I realize he's just trying to be of service. Good for him. But he is wearing cement shoes. CLUMP CLUMP CLUMP he walks, like Frankenstein tramping up the Matterhorn.

Maybe the "Friends of Santa Monica Library" can suggest that volunteers wear crepe soled shoes. Meanwhile, I squeeze my earplugs in further.

I'm also downwind from the children's section and sitting right across from the DVDs. CLACK CLACK CLACK go the plastic DVD carriers as patrons check out the titles.

A LOUD CLACK and a SCREAM. A tantrum-prone girl has grabbed a DVD and is screaming at her mother. "I want this one Mommy!! GIMME this one!"
"Patterson," the mother coos softly, "Patterson. I've got My Little Pony."
Yeah, a girl named Patterson.
"NO NO! I WANT THIS ONE!!!" The beast-girl screams with abandon, and she stomps past me.

I see she is holding a DVD of "The Three Tenors."

I'd be less distracted at home, where my husband is waiting for the DHL truck. Yesterday DHL tried to deliver his computer to the wrong house. Thank God for "signature required." Today DHL promised a delivery between 8AM and noon.

It's now 2:45 pm.

Maybe I can get Patterson to scream at DHL Dispatch.
Hold on, I can hear her across the library. I'll just put her on Speaker Phone.



Soulpadre said...

Great to read your latest post. Thanks for allowing me to add to the sea of Christian cliches and glib, vapid phrases. See you in the funny papers! BTW, when you are doing NPR again??

Anonymous said...

It used to be that actors/celebs had two first names, right? Dave Allen. Elton John. Today I saw a news clip of a couple with their baby, "Hunter Sherman". Two last names. Patterson --- who knows? Maybe this is a new way to solve hyphenating married names...or maybe her last name is Pinkie Pie.

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