Owning the absence seizure
Life in the Boomer Lane has just finished “The Storied Life of AJ Fikry”, by Gabrielle Zevin. Unless you are, at this moment, being wheeled into open-heart surgery, please stop anything you are doing and read this book.
The best books tell us less about the characters and stories they portray than they do about ourselves. AJ Fikry does that as well as any book can. But, because LBL is exceptionally fond of her own wit, she has chosen to bypass a review of the book in order to thank the author for providing her with a true disorder that she can incorporate into her own life.
The “absence seizure” is a form of petit mal seizure, usually associated with epilepsy. It is most common in children. AJ Fikry, the protagonist of the book, suffers with such seizures into adulthood, usually brought on by emotional stress. They are annoying (and of concern to those watching him), but not life-threatening. Fikry’s seizures consist of his staring into space for about 90 seconds. LBL respects the concept, and, at some level of her still-adolescent brain, she is aware that she shouldn’t make light of the disorder. That said, she will proceed anyway.
LBL doesn’t have epilepsy, and she doesn’t suffer from seizures. But she does experience a form of absence seizure when confronted with certain situations in life:
Scrolling Through Facebook Updates
1. Daily posting of one’s baby/toddler/child with captions like “My love, my heart, my reason for being”
2. Postings revealing information better left in the therapist’s office, with invitations/pleas to everyone to provide feedback
On the Phone
1. listening to all of the overly-detailed message LBL has already heard on an overly-detailed voice mail
2. tech support
1. When he gives an answer starting in about the year 1500 and more suitable for a doctoral dissertation, after LBL asks a question like “Who was that crazy guy who was in charge of Syria before?”
2. When he asks, “Remember that tiny town in Florida we went to, near St Augustine? That great restaurant on the corner of the main street, next to the florist shop? And the people we met from France who were eating there?” (Note to Readers: In LBL’s defense, although she cannot remember the town, the restaurant, or the French people, she only asks, “Did we enjoy the experience?” and when NH tells her “Very much,” it makes her happy.)
Other Absence Seizure Inducers
1. Opening her underwear drawer and seeing no clean panties
2. Being stopped on the street or being yelled out a car window, by someone asking directions
3. Seeing anyone out of context (i.e.: a client/merchant/family member, randomly walking down the street, instead of where they belong)
4. Being asked what book she is currently reading
5. Trying on a swimsuit
Renee Fisher is a former hula-hoop champion, and co-author of Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50 and Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50.