The Body Says No - The New Pornographers (mp3)
Until I Wake Up - Dishwalla (mp3)
The modern phrase is "absence seizures." They are very brief seizures that often resemble "spacing out." They usually last a matter of seconds, but in more extreme cases can hit closer to a minute. Often these seizures have no outward sign, but sometimes they include a few ticks, like the shaking of a shoulder or stuttered blinking. Often this illness limits itself to childhood and early teen years.
So of course myself and a couple of other parents made some quick initial comment like, "Hellooo! Wakey wakey!" And then Sylvia's parents shoved the cold and calm dagger into our consciences with that little reply: "Actually she was having an absence seizure, but she's OK now."
My wife had just bought me a new pair of North Face sandals a couple of weeks ago, and I hadn't yet had the opportunity to savor their taste, so that was my moment to learn they taste kinda tart and sandy.
Sylvia's parents were totally cool about it, which helped. And naturally I tried making up for my ignorant insensitivity by engaging them in a too-long interrogation about it. How long has she suffered with it? (4 years) Will it last? (They hope and expect it to pass by the early teen years) What's the average duration? (About 15 seconds, sometimes as much as 30, and rarely as long as a minute) Is it genetic? (In this case, not from the parents directly) If it doesn't go away...? (Lots of potential problems but nothing they're not prepared to deal with. No driver's license was the quickest response)
We all have moments that remind us of our blessings and help put our own problems in perspective.
"Petit mal" means "little illness." This is anything but a small problem. Milk and peanut and grass allergies, or mild vision issues, or other issues with which my family wrestles, suddenly seemed palatable.
When I woke up at 4 a.m., still a little freaked out by it, I wondered if some people have petit mal phases where they just kind of zone out for a fraction of their lives rather than a fraction of a minute. Maybe an inexplicable day or week of behavior that goes counter to everything normal about them.
Henry Hyde had an affair when he was 41. Maybe his "youthful indiscretion" was his own little absence seizure.
No, I don't really believe that. But isn't it pretty to think so.
In recent days, every time I've found myself gazing into the distance, distracted from the world around me by a thought or a feeling, I wonder what it must be like to have no choice in the matter. To have something outside of yourself push your pause button while the world continues moving, and you merely disappear from time for a short span.
I'm not a control freak about much in this chaotic life, but that thought frightens me half to death.