Friday, June 17, 2016

Joy


Liam was a two-sided revelation for me. I was, upon his birth, introduced to the previously unknown and fathomless expansive love of a mother, his mother. I bore my son into the world, stroked his head, cradled his still-warm body and succumbed to tides and swells of love flooding me.

At the same time, as I held my lifeless newborn in my arms, the world fell away, like a cardboard set, leaving a vast and dark emptiness filled with unconsolable anguish and despair. I was starting to realize what I had been given while at the same time realizing what was being taken away.

I delivered Liam, he was buried, Mike returned to work and the world kept audaciously turning as it always does no matter the degree of one's loss. 

Mike was forcing me to do things: go places, get dressed, eat, visit people. I found myself being shuffled to one such meeting. I was being taken to lunch by one of his co-workers, an amazing and special woman, Kathy. We went to Panera and she bought me lunch and we talked. 

Everywhere I went for a while I was searching, but not in a way that exactly made sense. I was searching for someone else this had happened to. I was searching for reasons why. I was searching for a way to go back in time. I was searching for Liam.  

We talked about what had happened to me. We talked about things she had gone through in her life and we just quietly chatted. It was a temporary poultice for my inflamed soul, and I was grateful.

Then it was time to go. She put the top down on her convertible as we settled ourselves into her car-- it was a beautiful early October afternoon. Kathy turned right to take us past the Jewish cemetery on the way back to the Mount. It was a prettier and less direct route than the way I normally took. 

The well-manicured lawns were letting go of the last of the summer blossoms and the hardy mums were standing guard on the porches. The pumpkins weren't yet carved for Halloween and people still weren't finished cutting the grass for the season. You could still hear the mower engines humming from distant yards. 

I turned my face up to the sun letting it warm all of my head and closed my eyes as the sharp shadows from the overhead trees punctuated the bright light like some sort of Morse code. 

I said to her, "Kathy, I'm just so sad, and it hurts so much. I love him so much. But sometimes, like now, I feel so... Well, not exactly happiness, it's much more than that."

Kathy said, "Joy. It's joy."

And I let it wash over me.






Friday, June 10, 2016

20.02




I “saved” $20.02. I know that’s a lie, but still, the symmetry of that number. The receipt says I saved it but I know that's just a gimmick. But want I really wanted to find, was the date that this story took place. It was June 1st and I was hoping to find a dress for church and I didn't want to spend a lot of money. I needed to go pick-up the groceries I had already ordered from Kroger and since I had a little time to spare before I was due there, I decided to run in real quick. 

Caspar wailed getting into the stroller. It's a nice stroller. I got it on sale for about $180 but it retailed normally for a lot more. But he hates getting strapped into a new contraption just as soon as he gets free of the car seat, the other bane of his existence. 

One lady in the parking lot gave me a look, a cross between a sunny-day squint and a glare as I lovingly wrestled my strong and screaming kid into the straps. We ignored her, I beamed out a few alpha-female vibes, and then Caspar and I went on our way. It was no biggie. 

It's a disaster trying to sort through the clothes at Gabe's. The sizes are all jumbled together and it's just a sea of racks. Clicking through the white plastic and metal hangers, quickly scanning fabrics, and pausing here and there, this horrible guttural cry raced through the air from the far side of the store. 

This baby was not crying a normal cry. This was the sound of a terrified and injured animal. 

"If you don't think I'll bust your ass in this store right now, you're wrong!" a woman shouted.

The shuddering, coughing, shrieks continued. There was another baby crying too, an infant, maybe two more. These sounds tear at your soul. They tear at your nerves and pretty much your muscles, bones, and blood start to quiver, too. These cries have been cultivated over eons of evolution to elicit in the parent, or pretty much anyone, the need to react, ready for some sort of sprint, some call to action.

Caspar and I kept going through the aisles but I started praying, too. I don't chat when I pray. I primarily recite Hail Marys and Our Fathers while I mull or ponder or stress and this was definitely stress. After about one Our Father and three Hail Marys in, I realized it didn't seem to be getting the babies to stop crying or the two moms to stop shouting. 
I started walking over towards the sounds. They were over in the baby clothes and I had a baby too, so it wouldn't be weird for me to go over there, so I went.

A woman passed me and said, "aren't you glad that's not you?"

I gave her a tight grin. "Not this time," I said. 

But really, when you heard the way those babies were crying, it had never been like that for me. I kept going and saw a stroller. There were two little twin girls, less than three months old, in a ratty, dusty old double stroller, not a model I was familiar with. But those girls weren't crying that loud. Then, on the other side of a tall rack in the baby section, I saw them. There I saw a young teenage girl with a distraught wild-eyed toddler wearing just shorts in the cart, maybe 18 months, and an older but nutritionally stunted, preschooler-- maybe 2 1/2, walking in semi-circles about 10 feet away.

The young girl's skin looked as if the cell turnover that usually results in the bright firm glow of youth had been shut off. Her skin looked like it had been spray-tanned with old-age, healed boils and round age spots, and some sort of ground-in grime. 

I started to rock back and forth, the ever common reaction the body starts on its own when a crying baby is close by, side-to-side while pushing Caspar's stroller up and back like he was the one in distress. I kept praying, and I started to feel very calm. The baby stopped crying and no one seemed to think it was odd that I was lurking, so I decided I'd stay close by.

I kept praying. I felt my face relax, my body relax. I felt very calm. All the babies stopped crying. The moms were calming down, too.

Since it was working, and no one looked particularly concerned that I was following them, I figured I'd keep going. I hummed a couple songs, kept rocking Caspar's stroller, and gave a couple quiet and subtle smiles to the babies all while staying about 10 feet away. I was in the young girls section by then.

The party then got their carts and stroller and baby-on-foot all corralled and queued-up in the only open line when the scared 18-month-old in the cart started to wail again. 

"Shut the fuck up!" the young mom screamed. The baby, his age still measured in months, couldn't catch his breath.

I looked around to see if anybody was going to do anything. Was anybody going to say anything? It was like when a professor asks a question in class and no one will answer and stillness extends forever, so you raise your hand for the third time in a row (maybe that's just me). I couldn't take the inaction one more second.

I walked up to them.

"Can I show your baby my baby? You know, since babies think other babies are funny and all. Would that be okay? It might help you with the line."

"Uh, sure. Okay"

She looked up at me as she said that. My God, she was just a child, too. She looked up in sheer relief and something akin to, a close cousin of  love, as I talked to her just kind of nicely. She was so vulnerable and I saw her exhaustion, pain, and embarrassment. I saw sadness and shame, too. Her eyes glassed over in some sort of dryer version of tears.

I whipped back the cover on Caspar's stroller and we started playing peek-a-boo. All the kids liked it, of course because peek-a-boo is awesome. The little guy who was walking came up played with Caspar's toes. Caspar grabbed his nose, and I helped put their stuff up on the counter. 

"Can I put your cart away? Only if it's going to help, I don't want to take it if you need it to get your kids out of the store. Don't say yes if it's not going to help"

"Um, yeah. Thank you."

I could see then that she was pretty but it was almost gone. The coating of extreme poverty and God knows what other hardships had nearly extinguished it. For a second she was young, and I could be the mom, the grownup and she was a child. And just for a moment her face softened. For a moment, she rested.

"At least somebody in this fucking world still cares about helping other people!" the older mom belted as she shoved the double stroller toward the automatic doors.


I spun my stroller around and quickly scurried back to the dresses with my head looking down at the spinning wheels feeling the squints and glares bouncing off my back and the too-bright lights humming down on all of us in disapproval.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Currents


Instead of letting my $10 a year for my www.keep-guessing name to go to waste, I've decided to update my blog with my homework assignments. Fun times for any accidental reader out there! Ha! Sorry. Kind of.  

This assignment is my week 3 journal post and I decided to write a poem. Hint: stupid riptide!

Currents

The petulant child slamming
a rag doll on the ground 
or a flag rippling in the wind
snapping into a too-close wall.

Just as these, dragged across the rip-tide
sculpted floor that was
more concrete than sand-- 
ridges both transient and immovable. 
Skull banging and bouncing, 

I see all around.
The cerulean-sky waters 
churning with bubbles of air 
but no breath 
lit by the sun above. 

Violent. Calm. Bright.

The flag does not fight the wind. 
Whatever would that mean? 
The rag doll knows of no reprieve 
save the changing whims of the child. 

Like the water, I go where I am taken. 

Sweet air! A cork spat from a bottle, popped out and floating, 
like a rejected and distasteful bit
bobbing in the calmer water, a ways off shore. 

The sea birds see, screeching and laughing, but
it is no concern of theirs, maybe an annoyance,
that in that tangle of tides,
death swam right under me.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Preach



We pray and pray, or we say we do, for Colorado, California, Sandy Hook, Paris, Boston, the Sudanese, the Iraqis, for our leaders, for our troops, for our country, for the mentally ill, for the poor, and I'm wondering exactly what form these prayers are taking. In the words of one of my most favorite priests ever, Fr. John Amankwah, "If someone tells you prayer doesn't work, they lie!" Good enough for me. So, I believe prayer works.

But it doesn't seem to be doing a lot of good. I like praying. Fr. John is right; it does work. I pray to be more patient. I pretty much need to pray that every moment of the day. It helps. I pray to be a better person, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, school-mom, parishioner, and citizen. I'm still something of a hot mess but less so year by year. Okay, there are some occasional dips but the overall trajectory is still upward.

I pray to be an agent for God and that, I think, is a pretty efficient prayer. Help me do good. Help me be better. Help me serve you by serving others. Help me improve myself to help me better represent and act for you.

So, I need a prayer for myself that actually helps get something done. I can't say, "God help those poor people" and ignore the call to help. I cannot expect God, whose expression of perfection is very much the physical world that we live in, to wave a magic wand and make bad things stop happening. Why would God do that, when he peopled the earth with his agents. That seems like something more inline with the flying spaghetti monster (haha! Atheist joke. No offense.).

God gives human kind equal capacity of high and low I think, opportunity for great and wondrous deeds but also the free will to ignore the call of God. I think God is also the pull to do what is most good and right and that the distance from God, that which is most good, in how we act and who we are, is how I think of sin and to a greater extent evil. But what I think is really scary is how unsinister this distance from God can appear and how I may fall prey (forgive me for what I have done and failed to do) to this distancing from God.

Cause and effect is as much a part of God as the story of Moses in his basket (God is "I am who am!"). What can I do to stop these things from happening again? What is preventing me from action? How can I help fill the world with more love and mercy (the year of Mercy!). How can I help people from needlessly dying, disease, violence, and suffering oppression in such horrible numbers? How can I offer comfort to those whom have already suffered so much?

Dear God,

Help me to open my heart to others, those who are like me and those who are not. Help me to love more those who are close to me and those who are not. Help me keep judgement out of my love. Help me love more both those who are easy to love and those whom are difficult.

Help me open my mind to productive thought that leads to action. Help me generate positive ideas and concrete steps to take to help others. Make real to me the importance of a humanity that respects the sanctity of all human life (the good, the bad, and the ugly), all life, that respects the sanctity of the earth and the divine importance of taking our stewardship seriously. Help me listen to the ideas of others without undue bias so that we can join together to help orient the world toward the goodness of you.

Help me be bold when necessary or meek as the circumstances may dictate. Keep my fear and pride from directing my decisions. Help me hold accountable those in positions of power who do not hold the common good as their guiding principle. Help me hold the complete goodness of the will of God in all of my intentions and actions as much as I can.
This I pray,
Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Three Pounds, One Ounce




I had such grand plans; I always do.  This time, I was going to fill a journal with loving notes documenting the mystery and magic of growing a human life and all the personal wonder that entails (Not in too much detail!  Even I have limits.).  I should know by now that my ideas are way bigger than my britches.  I'm now officially in my third trimester and this, coupled with my earlier mentioned goals, leads me to believe I can handle but one creative endeavor at a time.  So, I shall try and remedy that now.

First off, let me apologize to the soon-to-be-born offspring who is already starting to suffer the slings and arrows of neglect often lobbed at the younger sibling in so many stereotypes.  Your sister has been keeping me very busy.  Irish dance class, social engagements, ferrying to hither and yon, packing lunches, and bane of my existence, math homework.  Spelling and reading are generally no biggie, but I have prayed more than once, that you will be a natural at math.  Is that wrong?  No pressure.  But please, I beg of you...

Your journey in many ways has been quite similar to that of your older sister, who will soon be dragging you around like a life-size doll: a pregnancy wrought with  nervousness, anticipation, many-many heparin injections, and paper cut-outs of family names being shuffled around the dining room table to ensure you have a fighting shot as President of United States.  Again, no pressure.  But the retirement home your father and I have chosen is quite pricey, and did I mention the injections?

There have definitely been some considerable differences in the gestation period between you and your sister as well.  I barfed with her only a couple of times and morning sickness was moderate light.  You only made me toss my cookies once.  Oh, you're the good one, right?  Guess again.  I was nauseated non stop.  I did not get hungry, I just got more pukey feeling: morning, noon, night, no reprieve.  Did I mention that pricey old folks home yet?  Totally not a joke.

I felt kind of tired with your sister.  With you?  Three hour naps in the morning after I would drop off your dad and sibling at their respective destinations only to later nap again in the carpool lane at school pickup.  I can only hope that the soft-top on the car was enough to muffle my snoring.  As for the open-mouthed drooling part, I now see the benefits of tinted windows.  Sadly, we don't have those.  I can't believe those other parents have not completely shunned me.  A small miracle, really.

Now, there is something that may just earn you a 10% discount on your "fund your parents' retirement" bill.  So far, I've gained less weight with you.  You totally get points for that.  A couple of times, when wearing black, I've been able to convince my self that I don't look pregnant at all...  Until I turn sideways and that fantasy is blasted clear out of the water.  But overall, I can't complain, which is definitely saying something seeing that complaining is one of specialties.  And you are a kicker, for sure, without a doubt.  You deliver the kinds of kicks that make me screw up my face in public leading perfectly congenial strangers to wonder if I'm giving them dirty looks.  But I love feeling you kick, so that's just fine.  In fact, I'm used to strangers (and those that know me well) thinking I'm crazy.

There you go.  A quick summary to get me off the hook for the lack of careful diary making I had in mind for your future reading, in addition to a warning to start your financial planning early.  My old-folks home will have a golf course I think (actually, I plan on talking to them soon to get them started on construction).  Of course, if this blog post is in an indicator of parenting to come, you might have some substantial therapy bills to pay for.  It will probably be a wash.  So let's just say this, little squirt...  I love you and we're even.
















Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't Bug Me

I have a seriously uneasy relationship with bugs.  Bugs...  That is not a word I use flippantly.  I use it in the inclusive sense that garners membership from the like of arachnids, insects, and whatever you call those monsters with more than 10 legs.  Honestly, live shrimp weird me out, too, and really, there are some freaky crabs at the aquarium I could do without as well.

I wonder occasionally what childhood experiences led to these uncomfortable (and sometimes freakin' terrifying) relationships with bugs.  When I take the time to reminisce, there is no shortage of mental fodder.   

It all started when I was three (I think).  My mother and father had just returned to moderately rural Kentucky from Alaska after my dad was discharged from the army where they settled into a rental house owned by my grandfather and grandmother.  Considering the absurdley young age that I moved into that place, I have a nutty number of memories from there.  For now, I'll concentrate on those of the bug variety.  

My first traumatic bug memory is somewhat convoluted as is the prerogative (thanks for that word, Bobby Brown) of a three year old.  My mom swears it was a hot coal from an ash dump after a grill out that I inadverntly stepped on in the yard and yet I swear it was a bumble bee.  Chances are, I suffered through both, but I remember pain, a swollen foot that wouldn't accomodate a shoe and a lingering reticence to ever walk barefoot in the grass, yet another thing that made me a statistical outlier in the rolling hills of NKY (Northern Kentucky for those who are bigger outsiders than me...)    

But it wasn't just the smokin' hot bumble bee that messed with my psyche, because you see, it was also during that small window of time that my first nightmares started to arrive.  And the one about the walking sticks still haunts me to this day.  


Chapter 1.5 

The Walking Stick Dream...

Not much too it really, in the telling in any case, but oh how it has stayed with me.  

It was a beautiful day (much like today's weather in fact which is certainly why I felt compelled to write this whole thing just now) with azure blue skies and rare whisps of the odd spare cloud.  I was at the south end of the yard near the black barn letting the wholly indulgent and delicious sunshine and breeze of what could only be a May afternoon riffle through my hair and whole being when suddenly...  I felt a tickle.  

There I was, a beacon of childhood happiness, when suddenly an ominous skitter of what could only be a 6-legged tap dance of sorts started hopping like popcorn through my favorite lemon yellow snap-up jumpsuit with the rainbow collar (thank you so much 1979).  It became overwhelming to such a point where a so-so modest kid felt the need to rip apart the snaps to reveal...  

At least 50 WALKING STICKS marching across my milky white pre-prepubescent torso!  GAH!  And they were huge!  I blame my first visit to the zoo for my intitial rememembered burst of nightmares, and I'm sure the insect house was due to bear a good chunk of the blame.  I have more stories for a later time that orients around bears and snakes, but like I said, for another time.  

But that was just the beginning of my bug issues.  I had to stay home from school one day in first grade because of a spider bite that left a knot on my arm the size of a highly tradable marble.  My cat got fleas once in second grade, and I quickly came to understand the value of complete immolation (yes, I was pretty sure we should burn the house to the ground), and bees and mosquitoes have alway  sought me out like a delicacy.  That whole "don't bother them and they won't bother you" is the biggest load of nonsense I have ever heard in my life.  

And then there were the cicadas.  That is a story I will DEFINITELY leave for another time.  Shudder.  Let's just say it leads to an 8 week future vacation plan in some glorious and culturally rich location that has yet to be determined which is certainly FAR AWAY FROM HERE!  But for now, we shall wait.  

So when you see me scream, dance and wave my arms around my head on the soccer field like a charming yet seriously mentally ill individual, you'll know that there is a history there-- one that you've only heard a tiny bit about.  And if it's not me...  Well, now maybe, you'll be a bit more sympathetic to that crazy lady you see.  :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cake Booth!



I made a cake for the cake booth for the parish festival.  Hm.  Who could have predicted (a loaded question no doubt)...?  In any case, here are some photos of the adventure.  You see, I tied my card to the cake box and this way, the winner will have a little slide show documenting the origins of his or her cake.  And for the record, the recipe I used is essentially the Joy of Cooking recipe with some extra butter and sugar.

I'm nervous about the cake.  I tried extra hard, and I think it turned out well.  Is it wrong that I think cakes are a big deal?  I do.  They are!



Red Velvet Cake

 




Ingredients:

Flour 
Baking powder
Baking soda
Salt
Cocoa powder 
Butter
Sugar
Eggs
Vanilla
Buttermilk 

Cream cheese
Butter
Powdered sugar
Vanilla



Monday, May 5, 2014

Note to Self

Jonathan, the Director of Religous Education,  gave me a sheet of paper and an envelope from the parish stash of stationary and told me to write my future self a letter reflecting on my 7 month long RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) experience.  In 10 minutes.  By hand.  Um...  I thought he would have known me better by now.

My experience entering the Catholic Church was so many things: intense, beautiful, fun, stirring, humbling (which is saying something), enlightening, challenging...  I'll stop but I could go on.  And on.

It's hard for me to get past this recurring feeling of having been unzipped right down the middle and having my soul, heart, and mind exposed for all to see-- flayed, dissected, and discussed at length. These people, the RCIA committee, who started as virtual strangers (perhaps a familiar face here and there) became the ensemble with whom I discussed why I now believe in God and why I once did not, my feelings and experience with death and life in the most intimate of ways, my obligations to my fellow man and I how I both fail and succeed at meeting them.  Heavy stuff.
 

Then there were sessions with the priest who, when striking on a topic of particular favor (Mary, the nature of love, religous art), would speak with such intensity that it required my full (and I mean full) conentration such that it made me dizzy.  I mean this quite literally and positively, but he would speak with such focus of his own that in me trying to match his concentration, the walls and background behind him would start to grow fuzzy, and I would feel a little faint.  I'm not used to that sort of mental tasking, but it was kinda cool.

Sometimes it was like a college class where we got to discuss the importance of recurring symbols like breath and air, water (one of my favorites), fire (not always a bad thing), and the like.  Considering notions such as the "Prime Mover," you know, like, who set off the "Big Bang," and the notion of the Trinity was fun and challenging in a way I haven't experienced since my time at UC.  

The RCIA team was a very special group of people, each one bringing their own perspectives and spiritual (and regular old human-type) gifts.  Storytelling, critical thinking, life experience, formal religous education, or simply a steady presence: all of these talents and traits and more were brought to the table and all freely shared.  And did I mention that for about 1/2 the sessions, I was the only catechumen in the class?  Chuck, the other guy, was there when his work schedule allowed. 

They led me through classwork, they taught me prayers and how they pray, they impressed the wonder of the Holy Eucharist upon me, and told me what a tabernacle is.  They tried to explain how to pray the Stations of the Cross, but I think I'll need to revisit that topic.

They, along with the priests and deacon, introduced me to the church.  I got paraded up and down that aisle so many times AND had to sit front row center!  Talk about pressure.  It got easier, and now I recognize so many more faces.  I get congratulated and welcomed.  They recognize me and I recognize them.  It's really neat.  

And on Sunday mornings I sit with my family and listen for God, consider my role in the world, my duties as a human, give thanks for the good luck that rains on my head, and sing a few hymms with the scent of annointing oils and incense floating through the air.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Um. Um...



I'm having one of those little mini crises where I seem to be noticing an uptick in the death of my brain cells.  Other than having slacked off in my exercise pseudo-regimen (not completely but just about), I can't really point to an external set of influences that would cause this slide in IQ or mental acuity, if you will, but I'll be darned if my brain isn't considerably more dull these last couple of months.

Now, my natural inclinations would suggest that I would attribute this lull in thoughts to a rare, incurable, painful, and certainly fatal neurological condition-- probably one that only 100 people have ever been diagnosed with (thanks for that, Google).  But my hychondria prone self is not going there.  I do, however, believe the cause of this mental funk can be attributed to yet another one of my less attractive tendencies.  Laziness.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not sitting around eating bon bons (unless those are actually Dove dark chocolate Easter eggs) watching soap operas (unless you count that Once Upon a Time show while I fold laundry)...  Wait a minute, let me start this again.  Okay.  Seriously though, I'm getting stuff done. I'm volunteering, running people around to practices, school, job, etc., keeping the health department and child protective services off my doorstep, trying to keep a wide network of friends and family properly attended to while not ticking them off (#fail), etc., etc., etc.  

I have been slacking, though.  I have not been writing.  I have not been reading.  I haven't been doing a stellar job of keeping up on current events but having seen what CNN and the like consider to be breaking news, I don't feel too bad about that slip-up.  Still though, my brain has been seriously neglected.  

Sometimes, when my brain is working effortlessly (hey, it's happened) ideas just pop into my head, I go sit down and write, and voila!  It's done.  But there have been no precocious ideas bubbling their way to the surface, maybe a transient "hm...  That's interesting," but then it's gone and frankly there wasn't much there to begin with.  

So then I am faced with a dilemma, you know, like a fork in the road, sort of.  Do I let my brain go and just start a weekly habit of sniffing the peanut butter jar to self test for alzheimers (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cheap-alzheimers-test-made-from-peanut-butter-and-ruler-researchers-report/) or do I do something about the possibility of mental decline, something more than Candy Crush?   Hopefully, this post indicates I've already chosen.

I will not let my brain snore loudly into that good night, but fight and rage and all that other stuff, I hope. So, I will finish "The Goldfinch," (which I highly recommend; it's really good!), and I'll write more regularly, and I'll engage with ideas and art and all that jazz (yes, Pinterest counts) so that my brain won't bore me silly.  After all, one's mind should be an interesting companion for one's self.  Does that sound wise?  See, I'm getting smarter already.




Thursday, March 6, 2014

Telling Time



My daughter came home from school the other afternoon with a folder full of completed and not completed papers covered in tally marks, paste, cut-outs, and empty clock faces needing to be adorned, blank like a packed up Mr. Potato head waiting to have his nose plugged in.  After a shuffling of coat, backpack, gloves and pencils we cleared a corner of the table to get started on those blank clock faces so as to get on with the more fun aspects of afterschool relaxation (the iPad).

Pleae write your name at the top of your paper.  N-a-m-e.  So far so good.  Please write the numbers on your blank clock (she like's to play school during homework time.  Works for me.) Then the first question came.  

"Mommy.  What are clocks for?"  

"To tell time, sweetie."

I answered that one like a champ.

"Mommy?  What is time?"

"Uh...  A series of moments?"

"What's a moment?"

"A snippet of time?  Here.  Have a juice box.  Mommy needs to think."

I don't know what time is.  I know lots of people have very grand notions that involve space and energy, distance, matter, things that are linear and non-linear and stuff like that, measuring of change, maybe?  Most people, I imagine, are happy to merely (not that it's a bad thing) think of it as distinct measurable and constant units that come one after another like the ticking of a second hand on a meticulous Swiss watch or maybe the predictable passing of the seasons.  Of course, I can't even put that into a simple sentence.

What is time to a kid?  It's certainly different for them than it is me.  Christmas takes eons to make its return visit in their little kid worlds.  I, on the other hand, feel like it's been nothing less than a hot second since vaccuming up the last ornament hook before it's time to drag the boxes of decorations out yet again.  Birthdays, appointments, annual events, final Fridays, second Sundays feel like they are falling all around like a waterfall of moments that drain away before I've had a chance to catch my breath, whereas for her, Halloween beckons from a distant shore seemingly unreachable-- a future Disney princess costume taunting her from so far away.

I read a study once (or maybe it was NPR) that said when you're in you're in your 20's, 30's or somewhere aroung that time, you can most accurately judge a true second (1 Mississippi).  When you're younger, you count them more quickly (I thought an hour went by!  Nope.  20 minutes).  And when you get older, you count them more slowly (Didn't we just have the Winter Olympics the year before last?  Guess again.).  

But even that's not constant.  I know that I can savor an instant.  I can stretch out those delicious little moments that seemingly exist outside the ticking of the clock-- watching your daughter sleep before it's time to rouse her from slumber where you watch the steady rise and fall of her chest and count the freckles on her nose realizing that next year, the count will be different all the while knowing it's a moment you'll never get back.  But you have it now and roll it around in your mind before it too falls away but you've made it last longer than the same instant that occurred with almost identical similarity the day before.  Some moments, even little ones, are bigger, longer, than others.  

Or what about those little micro-naps that you may have experienced (*cough-guilty-*cough) in an overly warm class room where you suddently are unsure if you've been asleep for 3 seconds or 30 minutes.  While it may not be a winning argument with your boss on why you were late, I think that the perception of time is important to its definition.  

"Mommy!  Please, will you tell me what time is?"

Then my best answer came to me.  

"You can ask daddy when he gets home.  But now it's time for a snack."