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The Moment: A Selection

“Tomorrowland” by Rebecca Woolf

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

I tell Archer about my first day of kindergarten. I was wearing a white dress with blue stripes and my teacher’s name was Ms. Parish. Hal tells him about his first day of kindergarten and Archer nods, sort of listening, mostly studying the new route from our house to school.

“Daisy, F3,” my son Archer says as we pull into our parking spot. Disneyland’s about to open and we’ve arrived, just the two of us, our last hoorah before school starts.

***

Rebecca Woolf

Rebecca Woolf


The alarm goes off and I pull the pillow tightly over my head. My husband, Hal, offers to wake the kids so I roll over, fall back asleep until Archer’s voice wakes me, this time for good. “Hi, Mommy. It’s kindergarten day.”

***

Before we go on any rides, Archer tells me he wants to watch “the rapids coaster.”

“It will only take a minute,” he says, but an hour passes and we’re still watching. He points and studies and tilts his head, trying to understand why one raft is here when another is there, tracing time with his finger as he calculates distance and studies the faces of the hundreds of people screaming down the falls. Every few minutes I ask Archer if he’s ready to get on the ride.
“Not yet,” he tells me but I’m getting impatient. Bored. I cross my legs and watch him, pick my fingernails and wait.

And then… (more…)

“Denial”—A Moment by Kathy Ritchie (audio/video)

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

“My first thought was of Ronald Reagan. He died of Alzheimer’s disease, an incredibly long and drawn out process (from what I remembered). Could my mom have this disease? No. Absolutely not.

Around the turn of the 20th century, controversial psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud first posited the existence of denial as a human defense mechanism. For example, we deny that the reason for our poor performance on an exam was our own lack of preparation; we believe instead that the questions were unfair. We deny that lax gun control laws affect the number of fatal shootings in America; we believe instead that these shootings are unpredictable outliers, impossible to prevent. Denial is what occurs when we are trying to protect ourselves from an unsavory reality, and it is also what writer Kathy Ritchie explores in her piece from The Moment, which details her mother’s difficult diagnosis with dementia. Watch and listen to her story here.

“Flash” by Caroline Paul (Audio)

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

“Later it would seem fitting that my turning point arrived the way a revelation should: with a great flash of light.”

When I was eight-years-old, I was the only girl on my Little League team. For an entire year, I wore a dirty, backwards A’s cap to school every day. I spent recesses discussing the benefits of Mark McGwire becoming America’s next president with any of my male classmates who’d listen. I rarely smiled in public, refused to be dressed in anything “poofy,” and when my mother brought me home an issue of Girls’ Life Magazine, I returned it to her—I was not interested.

Call it being a tomboy, or call it plain, old-fashioned stubbornness. At eight, I believed that being labeled a “girly girl” would be the end of me. Many children (girls and boys) go through similar periods of figuring out exactly where they’re comfortable standing on the gender scale. To some it’s important, to others less so. But for former female firefighter turned writer Caroline Paul, proving tough in front of her male counterparts at the San Francisco Fire Department was the most worthwhile thing she could do—until her attitude almost got in the way of her job, a Moment she’d never forget. She narrates her story in this audio recording.

“Someday” by Michael Forster Rothbart (video)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

“My wife was ready to have a baby. I was not. Sure, I supported the idea in a vague, abstract way–I wanted to have kids just as I wanted to retire to a house on a lake. Someday.”

Recently, Obamacare’s preventive care mandate has reignited major controversy over female reproductive rights. It really wasn’t all that long ago when active family planning was more of a dream than a reality for Americans (Griswold v. Connecticut—the landmark case that upheld the right to martial privacy—wasn’t until 1965!) Perhaps because of this struggle, modern tales about adults waiting until just the right moment to have children are common. We hear fewer about children who come as surprises to their parents and whose births are unexpected. But as Michael Forster Rothbart explains in his piece for The Moment, sometimes children just happen, and sometimes that turns out just fine, too.

Watch “Someday: One Father’s Story” by Michael Forster Rothbart here.

“Stage Direction” by Said Sayrafiezadeh (audio)

Monday, June 4th, 2012

“It began with the 39-year-old actor, impressively made up to look ancient, staring out at the audience from behind a desk that held a tape recorder. Above him a lone light bulb dangled. This was succeeded by ten wordless minutes of banana eating that was absolutely hilarious. I laughed aloud in the empty theater.”

When I graduated from college my father congratulated me with a Hallmark card. Inside the card, my father had written a single quote by the late German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.” It isn’t always easy to start shaping the lives we want for ourselves; it takes boldness. In his Moment story “Stage Direction,” a young Said Sayrafiezadeh realizes while standing in the wings of a small Pittsburgh theater that he cannot keep waiting on his dream of building a creative life in New York City. He decides, in that moment, to be bold. He decides to begin. Hear him read his story here.

Moment Mondays: “Cornrows” by Lori Sabian

Monday, June 6th, 2011

My turn was last. It became clear very quickly my hair did not respond as expected. More vaseline was applied. More rubber bands came out and still it did not obey. We tried our very best to keep my slippery straight hair bound by tiny braids.

Each Monday, we’re featuring a story submitted for consideration in our upcoming book, The Moment, coming out in January 2012 from Harper Perennial. What’s a “moment”? It’s a story, told in words, images, emails or even the occasional poem or tweet (or sometimes a poetic series of tweets), about something large or small, playful or profound, that changed a life.

So many of the Moments we receive take place when the author was quite young. I suppose it’s not surprising that so many of us have turned into the people we are because of our earliest experiences and influences. Still, I’ve been blown away by the intensity and wisdom of these moments. As a new dad, readings stories like “Cornrows” by Lori Sabian (below) reminds me of the most obvious and yet often-forgotten notion there is for a parent: every single moment in a child’s life counts. (more…)

Moment Mondays: “If I Don’t Die Today, I Will Marry Kristin Moore” by Aaron Huey

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

“The shooting had started three hours ago, and we had no clear exit. In the back seat of our unarmored Ford F250 there was a translator and a Dyncorp medic. I pressed down between them as close to the floor as I could so that they would absorb the bullets.”

Each Monday, we’re featuring a story from our upcoming book, The Moment, coming out in January 2012 from Harper Perennial. What’s a “moment”? It’s a story, told in words, images, emails or even the occasional poem or tweet about something large or small, playful or profound, that changed a life.

The story below and image above is by Aaron Huey, a photojournalist for National Geographic, Harper’s Magazine, The New Yorker, The Smithsonian, and The New York Times. It’s a moment about facing the worst—in his case an ambush by the Taliban, which is pretty much as bad as it gets—and figuring out what, or who, is the best part of your life for the first time. Thankfully, most of us won’t face what Aaron did, but everyone goes through gut checks. Read on for a very big moment. (more…)

Moment Mondays: “Just a Man” by Nadja Cada

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Each Monday, we’re featuring a story from our upcoming book, The Moment, coming out in January 2012 from Harper Perennial. What’s a “moment”? It’s a story, told in words, images, emails or even the occasional poem or tweet (or sometimes a poetic series of tweets), about something large or small, playful or profound, that changed a life.

The image above and story below comes from Nadja Cada, a student in Ramona Pringle’s Visual Studies course in the New Media department at Ryerson University in Toronto. This second-year class encourages students to explore the nature of narrative in the digital, visual age, and experiment with multi-platform production and non-linear modes of storytelling. This “moment” feels especially relevant in time between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and given the topic of SMITH Mag’s May 18 Story Show.

“The Moment was our first assignment of the year, a way of getting to know each other as individuals, artists and storytellers,” says Pringle, who was recently featured in a New York Times story about how virtual connections in gaming culture are fueling real-life connections. “Students were first asked to write a moment and accompany it with an image for print (of any media) and then asked to create a time-based piece (video, animation, etc), based on their moment.” (more…)

Moment Mondays: “Flash” by Caroline Paul

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Each Monday, we feature a story from our upcoming book, The Moment, coming out in January 2012 from Harper Perennial. What’s a “moment”? It’s a story, told in words, images, emails or even the occasional Tweet, about something large or small, playful or profound, that changed someone’s life. Everybody has a Moment—what’s yours?

The Moment below, “Flash,” comes from Caroline Paul, a writer who in a previous life was a San Francisco firefighter. It’s a singular moment in one person’s life, one most of us would never even come close to experiencing. And yet like the best Moments, “Flash” tells a larger story about growing up.

Flash
By Caroline Paul

“The situation now in the house’s hallway was pretty typical—pitch black from smoke, and hot. Very hot. We were all crawling and dragging hose, bumping into walls and each other. Then—it was this simple—the world exploded.”

Black smoke was pumping heavily from the house when we arrived. The chief looked unhappy; the first arriving crews hadn’t pinpointed the fire yet, and the situation was devolving. (more…)

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Moment”: The Secret Life of Parents

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

“Hearing my mother’s voice calling to my father like that filled me with the most eerie and unsettling realization—namely, that these two people, my parents, existed separately from me.”

I must have been three years old because this happened in our old house, and we moved when I was four. I was upstairs, on the hallway carpet, on my belly, pushing a Barbie across the floor on her belly, as though she were a racecar. It was evening—after dinner, but before bedtime—and the household was slowly shutting down for the day. I could hear my parents moving about downstairs, making the mild noises of domestic life. (more…)

 
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