Thursday, April 02, 2009

Solitaire

Tuesday evening I began a new class (as a student) in which I will be working with a group to write a research proposal that includes the first three chapters of a potential dissertation. It won't be my dissertation, I probably will not write one. While I appreciate the reason I have to take the class I was getting a little antsy and impatient, thinking "I friggin' teach inquiry, why do I have to take this class?" I'm not too upset about it as I realize there is value in it simply for the fact I will be learning the researched subject and I do love research. My frustration really came from how basic the class seemed at first. Sure, as someone who has always used MLA learning APA is kind of like taking on a new language--but I have the manual. That said, the instructor did an excellent job of getting us started and I will likely use some of her methods next time I teach inquiry.

What I really appreciated was my instructor's most important piece of advice: find something completely unrelated to go to throughout the research process. Her personal example was Tetris. Especially given my recent exposure to Compassion Fatigue and the idea of finding "sabbaths" to re-energize, this was welcome advice. I immediately thought of Solitaire (though my mind also briefly grazed over "poetry" then laughed and moved on). Solitaire has always been a sabbath for me, something about the peacefulness, patience-building and mind-engagement centers me every time I play a game. As a kid I played traditional Klondike for hours. Most of my life--since junior high at least--I've carried a deck of cards around stored in my backpack (also handy for the occasional game of War, Speed, and Gin with friends). I think I was taught by my Great Grandmother, if not a great deal of my appreciation for the game came from her. She played all the time, even when she was surrounded by other people, something I really loved about her--to find solitude amongst others is a beautiful thing. If I saw her working away at a deck, I would sometimes grab a deck myself and sit across from her at my Grandma Johnson's dining room table and start my own tableau. Once in a while she would even let me play Double Solitaire with her.

After getting my iPod touch one of the first apps I got was a free Solitaire game that featured four basic Solitaire games. I got a little bored with the limitations of four games and began yearning for the Book of Solitaire from which I learned many versions. After a couple of weeks I downloaded a paid app that includes 40 Solitaire games and I am very satisfied. I have been addicted to Scorpion for the last two days though I have yet to win a game. Best couple of bucks I've spent in a while.

There seemed to be a convergence of factors that brought about the next development.

It's spring and even though the highs are in the low 50's, it is April. April is my favorite month, always has been. Sure, sure it's my birth month, but I think there is more to it. I have a tendency to treat myself better every April. As most of my friends and family know I have a high tolerance and regular practice of driving myself into the ground, bordering on self-abuse at times and I get bogged down from all the responsibilities I take on. But in April I feel lighter and even though I rarely have less responsibility in April, I give myself a break, allow myself to have more fun, and generally take better care of myself. For instance, last quarter I had two classes and they killed me, I felt I was in survival mode from day one. This quarter, I have three classes, and I was really freaked out about that, until yesterday. I'm excited about them. When I leave class at night, I feel invigorated rather than exhausted.

Okay where was I?

Umm, April, Solitaire, oh yes, Poetry. I have not written anything new since Fall Semester 2006. I did a lot of editing/revision Spring of 2007, but I have not generated a single poem since December of 06. I have wanted to get back into it. But, I have also had a lot of other things going on, various part time jobs, new career path, second masters degree, marriage, new full-time position, etc. I have kept my creative side satiated in the mean time through crochet, but that's another story.

Yesterday my good friend Ryan posted a note on Facebook about National Poetry Month which included a poem about his daughter's name. It was very moving. I really have only been moved by the poetry of friends lately, which I am sure is part of the reason I was then motivated to take on the poem-a-day challenge Ryan mentioned in his note. I was playing a game of Scorpion Solitaire while waiting for my next student appointment when I saw the post. Though I never actually looked at the prompt I saw the word "origin" which somehow led to my childhood spent in tree(house)s or my bedroom (my two sanctuaries) and playing solitaire in those spaces. The results are below--a first draft. I don't normally post work, especially if it is drafty. But who cares, here goes. I think this is just a part of something larger, I have been writing in seriality since before I knew what it was. I also already know the line "Solitaire--my solitude" does not belong, but for the process, for now, is necessary to me--I am pretty sure Solitaire is the title of the series. I am hoping to continue to post my poems/pieces over the next 29 days. We'll see how this goes.



from trees

Burnt orange floor
Planked
Cards spread,
rowed,
lined.
Solitaire--My solitude
Looking out over
everything.
My Kingdom of wood
and leaf

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