Not only is my mom awesome roller derby company, but she knows her children’s lit quotes. (So does Barb — my mom was just quicker on the draw.) “Once you get started in thinking, you think and you think and you think” is a quote from A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman. My mom better recognize it — she only read this book to me nine million times between 1982 and 1985.
I still love this book, and I still read it whenever I can find a kid who will sit down and listen. This is why: in rollicking rhythm with beautiful, detailed drawings, it goes through how everything “is either a house or it lives in a house.” Pickles in their barrels, hands in their gloves, worms in their peaches, duchesses in their castles, bedbugs in the duchesses’ beds: I could think about this all day. All that belonging! That chaos and order! All those cool things in the world! Find a kid and read this book to them, ok?
And mom, what would you like a post about?
It was Christmas in March here on Saturday, when my mom cashed in on my promise to take her to the roller derby. Now, I don’t like sports and my mom doesn’t like crowds, but we both enjoyed ourselves enough to happily stay through four and a half hours of people skating in circles. See they weren’t just people. They were Nehi Nightmare, and Carmen Getit, and Fatal Attacktion. And these people could skate!
But there wasn’t just skating. There was Seattle’s Cutest-but-Possibly-Least-Coordinated-Children’s-Drillteam for half time. There was a man yelling “Make ‘er work for it!” from behind us, like a over-zealous dad at a soccer game. There was the girl next to me who spilled her beer on someone and couldn’t stop giggling about it. There was a coach in a pink dress and heels. Roller derby is awesome. Also, if one happens to space out, or spend a long time texting one’s sister, one looks back up no more lost than one looked away. There will still be ladies shouldering each other out of the way. There will be whistles. There will be people popping in and out of time out and a man in devil horns narrating it all. There will still be people skating in circles. To pseudonyms.
The inevitable question that roller derby engenders is: what would your roller derby name be? This kept me and Nate busy all Sunday afternoon, on beaches, in forests, over a corn dog and ice cream. Nate had standards. A good roller derby name should have some sexiness, some violence, and at least a triple entendre, he felt. My mind drew blanks. But to quote a favorite children’s book,* “once you get started in thinking, you think and you think and you think,” and soon the names were rolling. Angela Death! Polly Slamorous! Heck yeah! Nate countered with Lonesome Shove and Beating Disorder. Google tells us we were the first to think of none of these. Does that make them bad or good?
* First person to name this book gets a blog post about anything they want. Google is cheating. Ready, set, go.
Blame writers for me not writing. There were thousands of them. The hallways were like an airport. I did not make that up; I stole it from another writer*. Writers steal words. It’s true. Imitation is for the weak at heart. Full scale plagiarism is for people who let google do their work. If I sound wacky, it is because I am very tired. Not tired of writers, but tired of airports, real and stolen.
I will tell you what I am talking about. Three little letters: AWP. This stands for eleven thousand writers boozing and shmoozing and handing each other free poetry in some cold, offseason city. This time it was Boston. AWP is the place you meet your ex-professor’s mother. It is where forty people cram into a 23rd floor hotel room at ten PM on a Friday night and your friend reads them poetry until someone calls security. It is the kind of place where hungover people squeeze on a classroom floor at ten AM the next morning to hear people talk about novel structure and three year olds ordering Chinese food. It is the only place I have ever seen writers shell out eleven bucks for a glass of wine. Cheryl Strayed is the queen of that place, as she should be, and so are a bunch of poets whose names I don’t know, as I must assume they should be. There are panels and readings, if you want them.
But mostly, there are writers, streaming up and down elevators and stinking up the entryway with their archaic cigarettes. And these writers? They aren’t writing. They are talking to each other. It’s great.
*Ken White. He’s a poet with a book you can buy and some serious wit that you can’t. You can only steal it.