Walking into the wind down a tiny side street, I suck the final drag from my cigarette and tighten the collar of my coat around my chin to try to keep out the chill in the air. I take myself on walks when I can’t write and I can’t write at the moment because it seems no matter where I go I can’t get away from the feeling that every move I make is being sized up and picked apart by some freakish peeping omniscient entity. Could just be my own paranoia but it feels like I’m being watched and watched much too closely which makes it hard to think which makes it impossible to write any kind of cohesive thing. This is probably why I keep my distance from most people most often. You get too close, you fall in, and it’s really hard to crawl back out. It can take days, months, and I don’t have that kind of time let alone patience. Stopping for coffee in a nearby cafe, I take a seat at a small table by the window and open my notebook. It feels good to get away from the laptop and the phone for a while, I suspect because we actually are all being watched, tracked, and monitored all the time through our devices so it’s no wonder we crave solitude, time away to fall into our own arms and breathe. But I’m starting to think taking respite inside myself is not in the cards today. Today all I can do is pick at my arms, chew on my fingers, and the fuck if I can breathe. Pen in hand but still unable to think straight enough to write, I look up and notice a tall woman who comes in to order some kind of exotic tea, and as she swings her hips ever so slightly and walks back out into the wind, her long honey colored hair whips around in the sunlight and I notice she is very beautiful. Toned and glowing in her skin tight workout clothes. A woman like that will always be watched. She will always be looked at and fantasized about, by strangers she will never know. It can feel like an odd way of living in the world, to be a woman who is looked at, because the hungry, wandering eyes never leave you even when you are alone with yourself. Somewhere, perhaps beginning very young, deep within we become aware of being observed. It both frightens and intrigues us. We want it and we do not want it, and we are not even consciously aware of why, or why not. There is something about being taken in by another being whom you do not know. What are they doing with you in the privacy of their minds? Is it sick and twisted? Or is it perhaps beautiful, luminous, poetic? What pieces do they take away and keep for themselves? Is that why you feel so depleted sometimes after being out in the world too long? But we are brought up this way, we are used to it. And because we are used to it, we do it, too. We the watched also become the stranger. Watching. Maybe that’s why so few of us ever write one goddamn thing.