Now that I am driving much more frequently, I find myself fighting the urge to do bad things in the car. Not those kinds of bad things. You know, like check my email or text to a friend. I am well aware that these are dangerous habits, and I also know that I hate how they make me feel -- rushed and anxious.
However, my mind moves fast and I get bored easily, so I've been trying to figure out something to do when traffic slows down or I'm stuck at one of the interminable 5-minutes-of-waiting-to-make-a-left-turns in the Pittsburgh area. My commute is essentially the same every day I drive onto campus, and while there's always stuff to look at, it's not quite enough. I don't like to listen to the radio because I tend to get caught up in the music or switching stations, and my car's radio is old and creaky, anyway. I was trying to sing some of the songs I used to know so well, but that's not really good as an early morning pursuit.Finally, I hit upon what to do!: Memorize poems.
This is a perfect way to pass the time, as saying the poems out loud warms up my voice and wakes me up. It feels good to fill my brain and mouth with great words (instead of, say, the lyrics to "Call Me Maybe."). I just print out a poem and have on the passenger seat next to me. Whenever I'm stuck for a couple of seconds, I memorize another line, and when I'm just driving, I go over what I've got down so far. Last week, I worked on (and memorized) Elizabeth Bishop's Casabianca. I'd like to memorize the full poem that hers is based on, but it's really long and I don't feel quite up to that yet. Right now, I'm working on the Prologue to Henry V. It's a bit longer, but since I used it as a monologue in college, I should be able to get it down fairly quickly. We'll see!
(By the way, if you're wondering, yes, I am deeply hopeful that someone will provide some sort of opportunity to for me to recite one of the poems at length, preferably in a way that will leave the entire room breathless at my erudition. So, if you invite me over for dinner, you may not want to bring up ships, boys, wars or the English monarchy.)
If you have any poems or monologues you think I should consider memorizing, please let me know!