Rogue Homilies by Deidre Price

a study of life that smacks of the divine

Month: February 2015

If Readers Were Like Runners…

I’m convinced my friends are among the smartest and most compassionate on the planet when they, year after year, go to Disney World to run their half-marathons and 10Ks and don’t invite me.

What on this earth would a thirty-something desk-fat workaholic do on an exer-cation in the middle of February? The answer is fall deep-and-ugly behind in the thick of editing season and probably develop a raging case of hives from the student emails piling up in the meantime.

Also, death.

Yes, death could happen. If not a literal death from exer-shock (it’s a thing, I’m sure), then a certain albeit metaphorical death of embarrassment would follow my attempting either of these races, and my friends love me enough to spare me that kind of struggle.

Either that or this is their days’-long free pass to talk trashy trash about me without fear of a digital trail.

I choose to believe it’s the love. The dirt I have on them wouldn’t be worth the risk. And, like I said, I have smart friends.

Still, the anomaly me wonders what a marathon-ish thing would be like for the lovely literati among us. We deserve this kind of hubbub that makes us our own tutu’d princess-celebrities for a day so that we, too, can bask in the glory of all that is the Instagrammed Dole Whip and the famed Mickey head on a stick.

What if readers were like runners? Here’s my to-do list on how to prepare for a literary marathon and, perhaps in the process, avoid the apocalypse.

  1. Plan and interval train. Seuss, limericks, acrostics, and a haiku or two are the regimen for week one. Minimalist short stories like Raymond Carver’s “Popular Mechanics” are up next before moving on to that awe-inspiringly efficient first line of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” which contrasts as a novel on a page. It’s a warm-up, work-out, and cool-down in one. It really teaches you to breathe. It models proper form. These are fundamentals, like stretching or breakfast.
  1. Get your interest piqued with Tina Fey, David Sedaris, then Flannery O’Connor. Transition into drills with Salinger and Twain, setting Dickens’ Pickwick Papers up like obstacle course tires before working up to the longer stuff. By month two, we’d add incline excerpts from Joyce and Faulkner and then tackle Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, depending on the humidity, time of day, and our elevation.

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Why I Take Batman Grocery Shopping

Meet Atticus, my three-year-old vigilante.

Atticus as the Winter Soldier

Atticus as the Winter Soldier

Most days he goes by Batman. And eats Batman yogurt for breakfast (just regular yogurt). And wears Batman shoes (just regular shoes). And goes to Batman school.

Batshopping 1

Batman and Evangline

 

In his spare time my Batman likes what other Batmen like. He likes to hang upside down and watch over our Gotham backyard from his treehouse, forming binoculars with his fingers because he needs to “wook for bad guys.”

His sister Robin helps (just a regular Evangeline).

Batshopping 5

I’ve never been a matchy-matchy mom. It’s less because I’m lazy and more because who cares? My husband is the one who’s more into “brown sock day” and “black sock day.” The rest of us live out of a sock bin. We dive in Double-Dare-style and grab two that are roughly the same size and height and run.

With each child, I’ve lowered my bar. I recall how my thirteen-year-old daughter would wriggle and writhe while I detangled and pigtailed her hair for preschool. I love Atticus’s sprawling curls—they are plots with many twists and surprise endings—but a lot of days, I send him off with a “keep that hoodie up, baby,” hoping the frizzy coils will settle down with a good playground romp.

Evangeline recently got a baby bob to fix her toddler mullet, but she wakes up with a ball of fuzz on the back of her head so that it looks like she’s always at the Exploreum, both palms held tight to that glass electric ball, full of shooting zings of purple light. She’s learning to love hats.

Batshopping 6

I’ll spare you the details because you have your own you can fill in, but this life is hard and full of fill-in-the-blank things.

I’ve always thought of my oldest as a child-savior of sorts. I had her at nineteen after a diagnosis of severe depression. We grew up together—are still growing up together. Atticus arrived an intentional ten years later in the middle of my father’s terminal battle with multiple myeloma among other battles. I was pregnant with Evangeline when we lost my father.

Children are silver linings and living dreams. It is because most of them do not understand the deep dark that you can pretend when you’re with one that the other does not exist.

I choose Batman, and we go to Publix.

If you’re imagining a calm, strapped in child who happens to be wearing a superhero costume, you’re not imagining my son.

Atticus is Batman in Publix.

He fake runs, swinging his bent and pointy elbows, crouches behind towering fruit displays, and when his eyes lock with a smiling onlooker, he’ll retrieve an imaginary something from his Batman utility belt, stick his arms out, wrists up, and make a whispered shooting noise followed with his evilest laugh.

You would think people would be annoyed, but the opposite happens. Joy kind of clouds around us when we’re there. You can see grandparents reminiscing. Kids cheer him on, “It’s Batman!”

He kind of nods as if to humbly acknowledge, “Yes. Yes, it is.”

Super Batman and the Penguin

Super Batman and the Penguin

And my favorite ones to watch are the late twenty-something to forty-something men—especially the ones with their wives. For them, he’s a celebrated brave one. They see him and glow a little. He gets high fives and a lot of people asking if he’s saving the world.

He is.

One man last week was shopping with his wife, and starting on Aisle 4 throughout our entire shopping trip, he and Atticus pseudo-sparred. They’d be an entire aisle’s length away from each other, and the guy would catch Atticus’s eye and drop down into a deep squat and point his arm out, pretending to shoot something out of his watch. Atticus, ever the invincible, would never go down but return fire of his own, sometimes making Spider-Man signs with his fingers and pretending to shoot webs from cereal to meat. He gets his superheroes mixed up sometimes.

Spider-Man and E

Spider-Man and E

His wife apologized to me on at least three aisles for her husband getting my son riled up. “He’s just like this,” she said. I assured her it was the highlight of my son’s day, smiled, and told her, without going into my fill-in-the-blank details, I knew of some things far worse things than being riled up.

Batshopping 4

Atticus as Atticus

 

I know he won’t be Batman forever. He’ll grow out of it. He’ll grow up. But I hope I’m raising the kind of kid who grows up to be the kind of man I married, the same kind of guy we met on Aisle 4.

It’s the kind who knows not to take himself so seriously or pretend to be a grown-up when a little boy in a costume has just pitched a make-believe ninja throwing star at you. It’s the kind who knows the very least you can do is duck.

I want to raise a son who one day remembers what it’s like to be three and Batman.

I think these are the men who know how very dangerous it is to let the dark overcome the light—and these are the ones who put up the best fight.

Batshopping 8

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