Rogue Homilies by Deidre Price

a study of life that smacks of the divine

Tag: love

How to Make Peace, in Five-Year-Old Terms, in the Age of Trump

At the end of every soccer game last season, my son and the opposing teams of five year olds lined up and held out a hand, palm open. They passed as swiftly and evenly as they could, each player serving as a segment in twin human centipedes, to the friendly sound of cascading high fives, each miniature clap as happy as the biased parental ones coming from the sidelines at the sight of a scored goal.

I remember thinking how civil it all was, how they were more focused on the juice boxes and allergen-free snacks to follow than they were the outcome of the game, how they would at times stop playing altogether, forget the color of their shirts, and sit and play in the grass, dissecting dandelions.

These images come to mind again as I think about the past political season and how I wish at moments that we could all ‘be five’ and take a respite from it all. I wish this were all a game. It’s anything but. But I can’t help feeling like we’ve each spent time in some game, that we’ve been players and pawns for too long these past several months, that we’ve lost sight of the faces and focused on the jerseys and the sounds of the sidelines instead of our own consciences.

At every turn this past year, I felt as though I were arming myself with information. Reading for education or amusement no longer happened. We were on teams and then, after the primaries, we entered the finals, many of us disgruntled and begrudgingly adopting new colors. We wore them anyway, even if they didn’t flatter. We ran toward opposing goals, and our feet moved in the direction our coach had told us to. We ran, head on into others, swept a leg if needed.

We played dirty.

The game ended, our arms too loaded with equipment to manage a single high five. Our mouths remained full of arguments we hadn’t even gotten to yet.

I feel sure that politics has always made a mess of people, but this past year, we felt the stakes were higher, dived in willingly, and some of us threw our children in, too, even in places where it was too deep.

My hope this year is for us to take off our numbers and stop using the language of labels. My hope is that we’ll work on looking one another in the face and have more conversations in person than in online forums.

We are engaging between commercial breaks and relying on microwave media, sustaining on sound bytes. We are in such a hurry to get to hate. We’ve become our own click bait.

Many have lost friends in this election, and odds are the opinions these loved ones held had been held for some time before this past year made them transparent. With all the typing and clicking and tagging and sharing, it’s become harder and harder to insulate others from our dissent, and it’s become easier and easier to see the lines that were already, albeit more politely, traced in the ground between us.

Now we’re open 24/7 with green dots beside our names as though they were neon signs. We are always “Hot Now.” We are always open.

You’ve heard it before, but put the phone down. We’re fueling our own neuroses. Find something beautiful, and stare at it.  Find someone beautiful, and be with them.

Eat something that looks like an encounter with God.

Visit libraries, read every book, and use up every last ounce of your days to teach your children all the big lessons about big love.

Have tea parties at every age. Throw your doors and arms wide open and let everyone in. Shove down for love.

Be near to what’s going on in the White House, but cling nearer to your neighbor. Be present for your families. Notice your friends without any and adopt them in. Set the table and sit down. Break bread and keep breaking bread all the days of your life because we were made for times like these.

At the end of the day, I know exactly who we are and what we’re about. We are made of much–enough even–to make it through even a season of this much division. I think we had an amalgamation of good intentions gone horribly wrong, but that, at our core, we still, collectively, hope for good in the world, and we’re willing to work for it.

I’d like to think that, deep down, maybe we’re just dehydrated from all the back and forth. Maybe we need a nap after all the late-night tweeting.

Maybe, in the words of that precious Hook child, we “need a mother very badly.”

I’ll go first. Then you.

Here, love. Have an orange slice.


  Deidre Price, author and speaker, is a mama of three and lit Ph.D. Her most recent work appears in Boxcar Poetry ReviewThe Healing Muse, The Penwood Review, and The Mighty. Find her latest poetry chapbook, Lie/Lay/Lain: The Body in Tenses (Rogue Homilies Press, 2016) on Amazon.

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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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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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