The Artist and the Bookstore

I was pleasantly surprised last Saturday when I went to my favorite indoor place to be – the local Borders bookshop. (Coffee AND books…what’s not to love?)

I once complained (somewhat bitterly) that I find it difficult to find anyone to talk to at the bookstore, despite the fact that it is heavily populated.  Don’t get me wrong, I still get recognized by coffee barista Cate who chats with me and I still enjoy spending time at the bookstore.  But I find people to be largely unapproachable and fairly non-communicative.  I don’t know why that is.  I did have someone be so kind as to let me sit at his table when all tables were filled and I allowed someone to sit at mine once.  And you’d think that would open the door to some communication…but not really.  I’m not really all that introverted, but I do find myself getting hesitant these days.

I generally DO like talking with new people.  Or did anyway.  Somehow this skill got attenuated.  Not out of shyness…exactly.  It have made some attempts to talk to my cafe-mates, but usually, only a few sparse words were exchanged.  Especially if people came to work on their laptops, they usually had headphones on.  So they could be there, but not really “there”, you know?

I never did understand the phenomenon of going to a public place to do work, only to plug in and ignore people.  I find it difficult to initiate conversations these days because no one seems to want to communicate anymore.  On top of it, there are few very interesting people at my local Borders in my little slice of Midwest suburbia.

Well…I guess there is a first time for everything…and it was last Saturday.  I finally found someone I really wanted to talk to despite my awkward hesitations – an artist drawing quietly and intently right by the coffee counter.  When I went to get my coffee drink Cate made me, I was trying to unobtrusively watch what he was doing.  After somewhat furtive glances, and a lot of hesitation, I decided not to pass up an opportunity to meet someone interesting.   Besides, I thought a lot about Julia Cameron’s The Artist Date to recharge creativity, I thought, what a perfect opportunity to talk to an actual artist (or in this case, artist in the making as he’s working on his portfolio on a part-time basis) and talk about creativity.

Yes, it’s true that he is working on illustrating a graphic novel.  It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s still really cool and the detail of the work was quite impressive.  I’ve always wanted to draw but sadly never developed any skill.  My mother promised me lessons once, but never delivered on her promise.


While I felt nervous as hell approaching him, my curiosity got the better of me.  I felt quite anxious, a bit well…stupid and somewhat tongue-tied.  Still, I managed to make his acquaintance and asked him for the opportunity to photograph him while he worked. I knew that if I passed up the opportunity, I’d regret it.

He was quite soft spoken, unexpectedly calm and gracious.   He seemed genuinely pleased I wanted to take a picture of him for my blog and write about him.  We talked a little about his story and how he came about his drawing.  He told me he was a sociology major and was working as a volunteer, but he wished to pursue his talent in art.  He’d been asked by a friend to help with his project and he was hoping to eventually get other art projects going.

I enjoyed talking with him and really felt torn between leaving him alone, and picking his brain some more about art and creativity.  I found myself feeling like I was babbling at times and found my enthusiasm growing by leaps and bounds…but I was also painfully aware that I was struggling to contain a rising intensity and I felt guilt at keeping him from his work.  I think he’s calm outward demeanor made me even more aware of my more intense inner milieu.


Part of me was glad I approached him and another part of me felt like such a dork talking to him and getting excited to meet a ‘real live artist’ doing art.  I trudged through some of those more difficult feelings…and I think I made sense.  I hope anyway.

As I was reviewing it later, I felt what?  Overexcitable?  Hyper?  Spastic?  Manic?  I don’t know what it was.  Since moods and creativity and gifted issues and intensity in general have been very much on my mind lately, I was desperately trying to understand it…what actually just came over me…and I tried to describe it for my husband whom I called after I sat down to drink my coffee.  I tried to explain what I was feeling, for first time ever in real time…and it made me MORE anxious for examining it so closely.  I was speaking probably twice or thrice as fast as I normally do…trying to explain what I was going through my mind, so he’d understand I’m not crazy…well, I know AM crazy…a little…but I wanted him to understand what goes on in my more ‘elated’ states of mind.

Was it mania?  I don’t know…it sure was intense though.  And when it was all said and done…I was quite sensitive to noise and felt a tension and pain in my neck and shoulders.  When I came home later that night…I felt like I was emotionally spent and tense and just wanted to be left alone (and of course my daughters needed me most then).

I will be following up on moods and creativity…and have some more posts in mind on this subject, but for now…I’ll leave this post rather abruptly…because I can’t think of anything fantabulous to say to wrap it up.

So there.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Artist, Creating, Creativity, Intensity, Julia Cameron, Moods, Stories from My Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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