June 14, 2015 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
Yes, people, I’ve enrolled in another online writing workshop.
This time it is not a Loft course, but an offering from tweetspeak poetry. I saw the class in a friend’s Twitter stream (thank you @VickiAddesso) and signed up for it on a whim. I first learned of tweetspeak, founded by L. L. Barkat, when I read her very intelligent, if controversial, guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog suggesting some writers should stop blogging, a post I referenced here.
This course is about creativity and mindfulness, specifically as it relates to a sense of place, and is taught by Chris Yokel. I’m enrolled in the 8 week version of the class. There’s a 4 week extension for those who are trying to plan and execute a publishable work, which I’m not trying to do. I do expect, however, to get a few blog posts out of it.
One of the reasons I am particularly interested in a course on Mindfulness and Place at this time is because I am getting ready to move.
As some of you know, I lost my home to foreclosure in 2012. It was the first and only home I ever owned by myself – as if we ever really own anything. I’ve written of the experience here and here. For the last three years I have been living with a friend, paying her rent, and building my savings and my credit score back up. This is the summer I promised myself a place of my own again, and I have been exploring what that may and may not mean.
The first week of class we were asked to choose a focus. Mine is going to be threefold, I suppose: looking back, looking forward, and being here. I guess I have the
indecisive panoramic focus.
This week’s assignment was to free- write for 45 minutes or so about the place we chose to focus on.
In that amount of time, however, I barely touched the northwest corner of my room. So I guess I will not want for material. Keeping in mind that this is not a finished piece, I’d appreciate any feedback on what images stuck with you, what you liked, where you needed more detail, and what potential themes emerged.
Northwest from My Chair
The corner bookshelf, a Target imitation of IKEA, is not mine.
Mine is in storage. Over the bookshelf are my kids’ high school graduation pictures and a sketch of my son done by one of his friends. The girl had talent; I wonder where she is.
On top of the bookshelf, an unopened jar of Simply Jif and my bottle of Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt Scotch, currently at 25%. I have to remember to take the Jif in to work; it is desk provender. My end of the day scotch is generally drunk here, in the reading chair I am currently sitting in, or in bed reading, or with the lights out, holding the warmth of the scotch on the roof of my mouth, then feeling the taste going down.
Behind the scotch, a pottery jar given me as a gift by one of the parishes Paul served in, now full of loose change.
Behind that, more pictures of the kids growing up, held in a curved Lucite frame from my sister-in-law. After a divorce, do in-laws become outlaws? I do not know. It is still a lovely frame. Ginny has good taste.
Above the door, a rack of hooks that may come in handy later. Right now this just holds two hats. One is a pink baseball cap my friend Loren was cajoled by a street vendor in New Orleansinto buying me at a Producers and Organizers Retreat. It is covered in buttons from the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Tellabration!, StoryFest. The other is a tapestry hat I bought at the last Renaissance Festival that Paul and the kids and I attended as a family. I only know why I am keeping one of these.
It always seems to get toothpaste on the sleeves. Black is not a safe color for bathrobes. Behind that, a Willie Nelson seed art fan from the Lillian Colton’s Crop Art Series for the Minnesota State Fair and a silkscreened poster I bought years ago when my friend Nancy introduced me to Steve Poltz and his band. I liked the graphic design. Black is a nice color for silkscreen, for white script and a white hamster on a yellow wheel. The writing is both script and thread, loosely wound around the hamster wheel like a spool, because this, after all, is the “traveling and unraveling tour.”
I have to take my ratty bathrobe down to observe this in detail, and when I do I pay attention, I notice the black plastic hanger that is laying across Willy Nelson’s eyes like he has been blindfolded for a firing squad. Willie Nelson should be able to see everything in my room. I pardon him, and hope he’ll pardon me.
I put my bathrobe on the black hanger so it can go in the closet.
Why did I not realize before that it is part of my spiritual and creative discipline, and integral to my work-life balance, to drink my morning coffee within view of a hamster wheel and Willie Nelson seed art?
Still, I doubt my bathrobe will stay there. See, I have to slide the reading chair into the space between the bed and the wall to even get to my closet. The back of a bedroom door is a smart place to put a bathrobe; icons should probably go elsewhere. But that’s where I found room.
My room is like one of those plastic puzzles you’d buy at Woolworth’s in the sixties for 49 cents to put into birthday party bags. You know, the ones where you had to rearrange squares of numbers to form a sequence, and there’s just one square missing that allows you to move them around? What are these called? What kind of a puzzle am I living in now?
I type “puzzle with“ into my Ouija search window – for that is what Google has become – and the spirits finish my phrase – “one piece missing.”
It is called a gem puzzle or a mystic puzzle, or sometimes (as bellow) a boss puzzle. Sometimes it goes by the numbers. Then it is an 8 puzzle or a 15 puzzle, depending on whether you are working with 9 squares (including one blank) or 16. This is what we had before Sudoku. And this is what the private living space I have created for myself within Katherine’s condo is like.
Sequencing the pieces, however, is not the point. The point is to figure out, in such a small space – or for that matter, in any space -how not to bury yourself in your own shit.
That strikes me as a puzzle worth solving.