Rogue Homilies by Deidre Price

a study of life that smacks of the divine

Month: December 2014

To My Fellow Worriers: How About We Actually Live This Year?

To say I’m anxious is an understatement. I’m more like a forecaster of doom. You know, the mundane oblivion we’re all destined for, the kind that’s coming for us on the sure horizon.

I roll my eyes at the hoarding doomsday preppers stockpiling their munitions and canned foods in repurposed school buses. But I wonder if they might roll their eyes at me if a documentary crew followed me around, taping my tells—

how I feel for swollen glands at the top of my neck at stoplights as some might glance at a text…

how I time my pulse sometimes when I think my blood pressure is up and a stroke must be coming on…

how I swallow hard after a new meal I didn’t make (Was I allergic to something? Did it expire?)…

how I follow self-exam instructions to the laminated letter in the shower every day and think of a friend lost to something that looked like a mosquito bite she didn’t know wasn’t…

how I remember my late father’s diagnosis of multiple myeloma at age 55 and how his doctor and my doctor and another doctor said it wasn’t genetic…wasn’t genetic…wasn’t genetic…

how I dream up all the things I might have but don’t know because I didn’t land in med school—How would I even know if I had multiple sclerosis? I might have the beginnings of it now! I don’t know I don’t. How am I supposed to know?

how I think of all my grandparents’ ages and how they’re completely rocking their eighties and then my mind turns to the ratio of what I’ve lived versus what I might have left, and I wonder that I haven’t done enough, said enough, or been enough yet and that we’re doomed, doomed, doomed if I can’t settle everyone’s checks first?

how I think of writing a note to my kids in case of an accident so that they know what to do in case I’m gone, and then I wonder where on earth I’ll put it because the house is always such a blasted mess—and why is the house always such a mess?—and is it making us sick over the long haul?—We have to get rid of the carpet.

It turns out that I’m worse than the end-preppers. I look at them and think, “But the weather’s nice today. And I’ll bet you haven’t read all the David Sedaris your heart can handle yet, have you? And do you know how to make a good crab cake? I’ve always wanted to do that.”

But then they probably look at me and think, “You’re totally screwed. You’re over there worrying about K-cup carcinogens, tomatoes in aluminum cans, and bad feet when you need to grab the Beanie Weenies and run, bunions be damned.”

I’m starting to hear that our message is the same: We don’t have much time.

We’re both right, unfortunately. But in the midst of trying to salvage what we’ve got, to fight the end, and to keep our eyes wide open all the time, we’ve missed the point completely. We’re trying to lengthen something we don’t own.

You would think with all these worries I’d take slightly better care of myself—go on walks, lose the same old pounds, look up sweet potato recipes, eat more kale, sleep more.

I don’t.

Like the jerky hoarders, I live in survival mode. I’m no better.

So, let’s just stop this year, okay? We’ve been running and avoiding running for too long. We’ve got to get over the onions and coconuts—the little hang ups that keep us from figuratively eating that which would otherwise bring us sublime joy.

We’ve got to stop hollering over fire ants and moving those hills into our neighbors’ yards—even on accident. Our paranoia is contagious, and that stress is contagious, and that fear is contagious. These are the things we should truly be afraid of—the pressure that will cook us from the inside out.

My daughter is in eighth grade. People are asking her what her major will be and where she will go to college.

To them my husband and I say, “Do not pollute our lakes and rivers.”

She is stressed because she is not stressed about that which stresses them. Come on!

Here’s the Price litmus test for our children’s success:

  • Do they love learning and know how to do it on their own?
  • Do they understand the importance of hard work and intentional rest?
  • Do they know to put people, in every instance no matter what, before things?
  • Do they have enough love in their pockets to give some away?

To quote my Rowling-loving daughter’s response, “The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter.” And she’s talking about a calling here. She gets it. When you know, you know.

Let’s not be in a hubbub about college acceptance this year. She’s thirteen. She really is just now starting to know what she likes on a sandwich.

Let’s believe the best about this year for a change. Let’s just live for a bit! How about it?

Let’s line our pockets with love instead of fear.

Let’s warm the hearth not because we won’t survive the winter if we don’t but because the flames are pretty.

Let’s write love letters and actually mail them this time.

Let’s fall asleep and let late work be early work because those REM dreams are worth having (the sleep not the band, but to each her own).

Let’s work miracles in the daylight, surprising people with our generosity of spirit.

Let’s remember how far a glass of water and a deep breath go.

Let’s have people over with the laundry on the couch.

And let us feel the echoes of each new joy all year long.

 

 

 

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What I Wanted for Christmas: A Holiday Postmortem

I was already bad at Christmas. I love ordinary days when the bar is lower, the ones where no one is making sure you’re fitting in the frame of the photograph.

As bad as I already was, I got worse two years ago. I awoke twice that night: once to the phone call telling me my father had passed away and a second time to the task of telling my daughter the sad, hard news.

The latter was infinitely more difficult to endure. I liken the positions to cars just involved in an accident. In the first car, you’ve been hit; you don’t even have to consider how you’ll respond. In a moment, you collapse. Shrapnel flies. It’s not a decision. You’re necessarily passive. It’s Newton’s cradle.

Telling someone is like being in the second car, seeing yourself careening, unstoppable, into another who doesn’t know they’re about to be hit.

You know it’s coming, and you’re thinking, thinking, thinking about how to minimize the impact until you realize you can’t, so you just brace yourself because you can’t brace them.

That Christmas I moved as numb as I could. I should’ve stayed at home, but I saw family. I should’ve nodded and smiled, but I answered questions that made me cry.

And when you have a world’s worth of grief in your bones, the first tear works like the cracked seal of a shaken up Coke. I remember feeling precisely that chemical and plastic, overflowing into the arms of someone else’s uncle and everyone kind of helpless, sugary bubbles everywhere and no one knowing how to screw the top back on.

That Christmas and all its imagery merged into one, so the next year when I saw desktop Christmas trees, I’d think of the ones that lined the hospital windowsills. The indoor lights and burgundy bows reminded me of nurses’ stations. The movies, the songs, and every snow globe meant a shadow cast tall and dark onto the new year that seemed not to be new at all. I cobbled that Christmas together as best I could. I recall it as painful but passable.

This year I wanted to forget and remember all at once.

It’s impossible for the days to eclipse the years, and knowing that, I dreaded it altogether. I have never been more intentional about how my family and I marked the advent season, though, because I was determined to make it good somehow. My husband is the king of Christmas-season setting in our home, insisting on Christmas music, movies, lights, and a tree dressed to the nines, taking the day back for us bulb by bulb.

Price Christmas 2014 Gold Balls

Price Christmas 2014 Trees Lights

price christmas 2014 transit

I spent my time with advent stories, but people in the flesh now are louder than people on the page then. And let me tell you, some of them are such a drag. I think of them as happiness marauders and peace thieves, and they came for me this season.

They found me in the church, and they found me in my inner circles. They found me in my bank account and in my inbox. They found me run down, fed up, worn out, and rude.

They came with pitchforks dressed in parental advice, with torches run on diet tips. They came with shackles that doubled as dollar signs and theological anchors that weighed me down so they could get ahead. With all these things and more they came—to convince, to convert, and to conquer—they came for me.

But sometimes love comes in unexpected ways from unexpected directions and hits you unexpectedly and unrepentantly hard—this kind of love that says that newness and peace are possible—and it does all these things—convinces me, converts me, and conquers me over and over again—and moves me in tight toward those I love so that the frame feels ever closer like home.

PRICE_2014 Christmas EVE

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Dear Garage Carpenters and Fine Woodsmen Who Follow My Husband’s Blog

Welcome, new friends of the woodworking community. I appreciate your patronage on my blog despite the divide between our interests, the gap between lumber and lyrics.

As of late, I’ve engaged in some shameless self-promotion. I say words like “my agent” and “my book” and “DeidrePrice.com”—See? I did it again. I’ve spent hours learning how to do this website thing—to make it look and walk and talk all Deidre things—to make it sing me. I am one big barbaric yawp on the rooftop of the internet. If you haven’t read Walt Whitman, you really must. You guys would be bottoms-up in love with each other. Is he not the first lumbersexual? He so is.

My husband has taken the opposite approach: default white background and Arial-ish font, direct approach (hey, wanna see my workbench?), and a narrative formula (wood + tools = this … and repeat). The man doesn’t even edit his photos or add a filter before posting. It’s almost as if he doesn’t care.

And he’s a hit. It totally figures. But in his defense, he was due.

You see, we both chase dreams in the evenings, I move in digital spaces to the sound of syllables formed into sentences, using my eyes as a veritable level, almost seeing that little greenish yellow bobbling bubble center itself in moving water.

He moves in materiality, and when I leave my space to visit his, I feel spiraled wood shavings crunch underfoot like fresh snow. I’ll track them indoors later, littering the living room with reminders that our very life is happening.

I see we’re not that different: We are both red-penciled people, X-ing out extra, marking where to cut and how much.

We see possibility in next to nothing.

We make the rough smooth and finish the raw.

We wait. We watch.

We listen. We learn.

And we’re glad you’re here, letting us know we’re not alone in the chasing and the doing. Yes, we’re one big, dovetailed pack of people in love with right angles and minding the grain as we go.

xoxo

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Big Fat Addendum (since this evening): It has come to my attention that my husband has some creative tagging practices on his blog. As a result, I’d like to also welcome here lovers of peanut butter, kittens, He-Man, and of course, underwear.

Welcome.

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