Monday, October 28, 2013

Goldilocks Goes to the Library

I retired a year and a half ago, but it didn't stick. Although I never expected to be fully retired quite this early, the speed at which new pursuits have taken over my life has left me a little breathless. I thought I'd have lots of time to write -- to revive my freelancing, work on all those works-in-progress that had  become stalled for lack of time and attention -- but many days, I find myself back in the "too much to write, not enough time" boat that was sinking when I worked full-time.

This new version of an old state of affairs sometimes relegates writing to the nooks and crannies of my day. Fortunately, I learned how to use that approach successfully over the last decade, so although it's disappointing, it's not unworkable.
And so it was that I found myself in the college library on Friday morning. I had made plans to meet a student and after our business was complete, I had about an hour before my next appointment. Anticipating this (as all good writers on the run do), I had tucked hard copies of the chapters I was working on into my bag. Now all that remained was to find a place to work.

I love settling into a comfy chair and digging into the pages, but on Friday, I felt a little like Goldilocks. The same chairs that were typically unoccupied when I stopped in after class on Tuesdays and Thursdays were occupied by students  -- some alone, some in groups and one asleep, stretched out on a sofa on the second floor. There were still chairs available in these groupings, and while I wouldn't have hesitated to sit right down if I'd been at Starbucks, I felt a little creepy doing so as a fifty-two-year old adjunct in a library full of college students. These chairs were too full, so I moved on.

There were chairs available in the lobby, but in addition to the noise factor (minimal though it was in a library), these chairs were placed beside heating vents pumping out warm air. After spending 30 minutes or so traipsing around campus, the last thing this middle-aged woman needed was hot air blowing down her neck. These chairs were too hot, so I moved on.

I finally landed at a study carrel in the quiet zone. Wait. There was a quiet zone? Well, of course there was -- I was in a library! Although I hadn't used a study carrel in more than 30 years, I needed a quiet place to work, and this was what was available, so I took it. Oddly enough, this chair was just right.

I'd like to conclude by saying that I got a pile of work done, but between the time it took to settle into a work space, my upcoming appointment and the fact that my daughter and I ended up in a text discussion (with my phone on silent, of course -- I was in the quiet zone after all), there was more ambiance than work involved in my trip to the library.

But I've discovered a new work space, one that a friend in my writers' group swears by. And I think perhaps it's time I took better advantage of it.


Unknown said...

Retirement is for sissies. I prefer to think of it as the freedom to do what we should have done if we were smarter when we were younger. Priorities change considerably once the last of the progeny have flown the coup.

Lisa Lawmaster Hess said...

I love your philosophy, Joel! I have just the one, and she hasn't yet flown the coop...but that was also a major reason behind my decision to retire. I wanted to enjoy her while she was still here.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds like a great place to work. I love libraries of all types.

Lisa Lawmaster Hess said...

Me too, Susan!

Arlee Bird said...

When I was in college the library was one of my favorite places to hang out. That or the study lounges in the student center.

A Faraway View

Liza said...

I am such a fan of parking myself in the library. Ours however, doesn't have a quiet zone. I still go, but sometimes need earphones to concentrate.

Lisa Lawmaster Hess said...

Arlee and Liza -- I typically find libraries nice places to visit, but often forget about the possibilities they offer for a quiet work space. Being back on a college campus has changed that perspective -- in a good way.