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personal essay, random, series

Library for the Homeless (pt. 1/2)

I’ve increased the time I volunteer at Lodestar Day Resource Center, now spending whole Friday afternoons watching the on-campus library so that people there have a chance to read books, play board games, and in general escape the heat.

I’m still trying to run the creative writing class in the library, but it is not surviving well in its new habitat. That’s my fault for moving it. Writing, in this place, is therapeudic and cathartic, and therefore the class should exist as a safe space. The helter-skelter human traffic of the LDRC library and lobby violates that need.

The experience is good in that I’m meeting many more people—not just the avid writers. For example, Carl helped improve my chess game yesterday. (Several of the regulars here are savants at chess.)

He taught me a trap: Sacrifice your queen, your most valued piece, to pin down several of the opponent’s pieces with your two rooks. Make them choose which pieces to save. No one can save every piece, but you can at least choose which sacrifice is worth it if you play the game right.

My Nalgene got jacked at LDRC yesterday. I really do feel that most people here are good, and that all of them are deserving of compassion and respect—but you seriously can’t take your eye off your own possessions for a second.

We have a magazine rack in the library, with everything from Car & Driver to National Geographic to TV y Mas.

I saw an older man reading a one-year-old issue of PHOENIX Magazine. I recognized it: I have three articles published in this issue, from when I interned at the magazine. Now, I watch a homeless, un-bathed man flip through its glossy pages, just for the pictures. And he’s inside, cooling off, enjoying himself for once. Because it’s my job, I walk over and tell him to put his shoes back on, because you have to wear shoes in the library.

{more stories to come later today…}



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