I’m at the library right now. I’ve never gone to a library alone, so this is a very weird experience for me. It feels so hostile here. Everyone has headphones in and are glued to a computer screen. I find that kind of ironic because they’re at a place that’s raison is to read the books they freely supply, but here are people touching none of them and instead looking at their laptops, something they could do practically anywhere. But then again, here I am doing the exact same thing. In my defense, I looked for a David foster Wallace book to read for a while, but found that this library doesn’t seem to know the fuck who he is. After that I read a few pages of my Sylvia Plath book. Now I’m just looking at my surroundings and trying to be less intimidated by everything. I’m enjoying looking at everyone’s laptops because they all have stickers on them to try to indicate some sort of personality. Of course my laptop has no stickers, only a few scratches. There’s a young guy, looks like he’s in college, with a green lantern super hero sticker. Honestly he’s what I imagine college in Arizona to be, well, college at its finest in Arizona. Then there’s some Asian woman in her 40s or 50s with a white flower on her computer. It seems to be less of a statement piece like the big green super hero sticker, but more of a minimalist’s decoration. There’s another college student with her younger brother. I can’t see her computer well, but I can see the brother with his head resting on the table, looking bored out of his mind. Then, there are the more intimidating people here. There’s a woman wearing a dress showing far too much skin for her age, with two young girls doing the same. There’s also an unhappily married couple sitting together at a table pretend the other doesn’t exist. Then there’s me. I’m sitting here in a wrinkled maroon shirt tucked into grey and white flower patterned shorts, becoming more paranoid by the second that people can notice the wrinkles. Of course they probably can’t notice and definitely don’t care, but I still do and because of it I can’t relax. I’m sitting here typing and trying to inconspicuously observe everyone here, but most likely am being very obvious. I’m also concerned that the humming of my computer is too loud and might be disturbing everyone else here. I spend most of my day alone in my room, watching tv, where I can do all of the watching I want of people without them being able to see me. This is uncomfortable for me, because here, while I’m trying to watch them, they’re all perceiving me, and that makes me feel more than uneasy. In an essay by David foster Wallace that I read he talked about this. He said that a writer looks at things differently and voyeurs around, making people uncomfortable with their skeptical gaze. I wonder if that’s what I’m doing, or if they can notice that that’s what I’m doing. He also said that tv is a dangerous thing for writers because it allows them to do all of the perceiving they want without being perceived back, allowing them to indulge as much as they want. That, I know, is true for me. I want to throw away my tv and stop myself form compulsively watching it. But the issue of tv for a writer is not just the addiction but also the fact that the people are not acting like actual people. Actors are a very special type of person that while knowing they are being watched by thousands, can appear that they don’t. Any other person in front of a camera becomes very uncomfortable and can’t “act natural.” Now I’m just poorly summarizing what Wallace wrote, but I find it very interesting and extremely true. I came here to the library today to actually experience people, even if that experience is just simply having them perceive me. It’s unsettling, but also reassuring. At least they can see me, at least I’m real.
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