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Solitaire and the Civil War

May 12, 2011

I’d apologize for not having written in a while, but frankly, I’m not going to take the blame. This afternoon marks the end of a 6-day power outage here where, by day one, most of my electronics were dead, including my phone. I’ve been fortunate I think, in being able to stay fairly well connected to the outside world while living in the Gobi Desert, but this last week has been isolation in the extreme.

It’s shocking how much you can get done when electronics are out of the picture. For a week I’ve resorted to reading the bulk of James McPherson’s tome-ish Battle Cry of Freedom and playing solitaire–with real cards. Who, under the age of 75, does that?– 24-year-olds living in a felt tent apparently. I’ve also variously solved hypothetical international relations crises, considered in depth the theory of multiple universes, and designed a better mousetrap.

With this return of the internets, I’ve quickly reverted to charging my iPod, checking e-mail compulsively, and, thankfully, talking to everybody I miss so much.

The weather is still vacillating somewhere between feeling like July and January, respectively–I guess that’s the Mongolian spring, with only moments of a happy medium. We’ve even seen rain briefly, just barely enough to wet some patches of ground and send up scrubby greens almost overnight in their place. The end of school is imminent, and it’s obvious that it is when I stand in front of a classroom of 30 teenagers. I can’t say I blame them, I remember those lingering days of school and just how ludicrous I thought the teacher was to be introducing yet another chapter of the textbook. I suppose it’s my own little “disunion” of character, wanting to continue to teach and make progress while recognizing that the students are just as exhausted with learning as I am (sometimes) with teaching.

It’s interesting to be putting the entire first year of service into the history books, so to speak. I’d like to say I’ve learned a great deal, but cataloging it would seem premature–for now, I’m satisfied with saying I’ve made it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kimberly Oxie permalink
    May 17, 2011 2:04 pm

    Wonderful piece, yet again.
    I can’t wait to read your book – someday when you have time.
    You are a gifted writer…..
    Hey, it can’t decide if winter or summer here either… day it was 90 and the next 40!
    OK…it’s NOT Mongolia.
    Oh, and good reading choice – being the Civil War anniversary and all.
    All the best, always,
    K. Oxie
    PS…I love real cards….oh yes, I am “of that age”.

  2. Scott Nelson permalink
    May 23, 2011 8:41 pm


    I work with your dad and have followed your blogs with great pleasure.
    What terrific stories, and insights.
    Thank you for your service, and for sharing your adventure with your readers.

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