Lightbulbs are loud.

Lightbulbs are really loud. I am not making this up. Although I could be making this up, and since I am just a person on the Internet, you would never know.

But lightbulbs are loud and I can hear them all and each one has a specific sound and none of them are in tune with anything or with each other. Other things that are loud:

The cable box. Or whatever it is now called. The cable/DVR thing. It constantly makes a low, wet tapping sound.

Torgi’s wee belly, disturbingly. Earlier tonight he made a “whoa hey, I’m a-gonna hork” noise and I ran into the bedroom and it turned into a cough that turned into hiccoughs and then burps. It startled us both. And then his tummy started churning. So we’ve hit the tummy-upset phase of the meds. He did what I do when I feel like I’m going to hork but I don’t want to: resolutely swallowed a bunch of times. Over and over. And it passed. I held his little back paws in my hands and told him the story of how I had too much to drink at FunkyPlaid’s going-away party in 2003 and the next morning I barfed in his bathroom. By the time I was done telling the story, Torgi’s belly had settled.

Every lightbulb in this flat. What is going on here? Am I losing my mind? They are keening softly, shy birds in metal nests. Are they waiting for me to close my eyes? Sometimes when I blink I can hear that too, a thick sluck as my lids meet and pull apart.

A ladder against a stone building, voices, a flap and slosh of not-clean water against a window. The tense squelch of rungs giving way under weight, then resisting.

Bass-drum thrum of the heat as I turn the place into the world’s largest laundry dryer because I really need clean clothes for work tomorrow that are also not damp.

The sensuous unzip of avocado skin. Not quite ripe but I’ll eat it anyway with anaemic plum tomatoes and, well, nothing else. Standing over the sink. Like an animal. An animal with opposable thumbs who likes embryonic guacamole.

Zen’s face, on anything, as she does anything. Bathing, eating, drinking, gnawing on my wrist. Her raspy tongue and needle teeth. Someone has mic-ed her face and the speaker is in my earring.

Music turned down very low. This, even, is loud. I am constantly turning it up and down and wishing for a half-step between volume levels.

I made a mistake after I finished cataloguing these for you. My mistake was research. It led me to the Wikipedia entry on “The Hum” which disturbed me greatly. Of course it has its own website. Of course. This led me to one of the greatest paragraphs I have ever read:

I suspect that the Hum is a biological reaction to the multimode propagation and subsequent interference of VLF electromagnetic energy, compounded in some cases by existing sources of otherwise inaudible low frequency sound and infrasound. It is an activation of the auditory system detectable by a small proportion (less than 5 percent) of the population who are acutely sensitive to the presence of low frequency sounds or who have specific anatomical conditions. Increasing numbers of increasingly powerful VLF transmitters, via ground wave, skywave, and magnetic conjugate propagation modes, create ground interference and standing waves that create locations with intense levels of VLF energy. The odd behaviour of the Hum is caused by diurnal, seasonal, and geomagnetic disturbances affecting the ionosphere.

Majestic. That we live in such a world, with such words and such concepts.

And this is what it is like when I have insomnia.

Writing from: the loud lounge. Listening to: you already know.

Published by Halsted M. Bernard

An ever-molting black swan. Reader, writer, library director, over-enunciator. Listening + Unlearning. Opinions are my own. She/her. #BlackLivesMatter

8 thoughts on “Lightbulbs are loud.

  1. Due to several possible causes/contributing factors, I ‘enjoy’ having hyperacusis.
    I grew up with many strong allergies, a few perforated eardrums, currently deal with anxiety and depression and have dealt with a trigeminal nerve issue so it could have roots in many places.
    A year or so ago, it honestly was a delight to find out there was a name for it and it was a legitimate condition! (Thanks, Internet!)
    Certain sounds just make me CRINGE, raise my hackles and make me feel SO stabby. Some people’s various eating sounds, some fabric sounds and so on…. ARGHHHHH! Just typing those out gets to me! They’re not just annoying. They’re something extra that resembles normal people’s reaction to scraping nails on a chalkboard.
    I’ve read of sessions of pink noise listening to help some people kind of ‘reset’ their sensitivities and I found minor relief after some attempts. There are a few iPod apps that will produce it as well as a few web page applets.
    Damn you, brain!

    1. And I thought I had it rough because I experience this while sleep-deprived. If I had to deal with it all the time, I’d go mad.

      1. It’s generally tied to current stress and anxiety level so it’s not really like a tinnitus thing that’s constant. It helps if you’re already mad! But the sounds are mostly occasional momentary sounds, with some exceptions (people eating etc.) so it’s not a life of hell, really.

        Fluorescent lighting is annoying to everyone! BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

  2. I am kind of looking forward to my probably inevitable genetic hearing loss if it means I stop hearing the screaming of TVs, monitors and lamps on dimmers.

  3. Now if the light bulbs start talking, you’ve got an even bigger problem.

    Casey’s note reminded me of the television set my grandparents had. It was bad enough that it was cranked up to crowd control levels because of their decaying hearing, making it difficult to not go mad trying to converse with relatives. But it was worse due to the fact that the TV emitted this HIGH-PITCHED AND UNENDING WHINE apparently caused by a gap in the coil at the back end of the CRT. My grandparents couldn’t hear it, of course.

    -weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeePlease pass the gravy. Thanks.weeeeeeeeeeeeee-

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