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.

the sprouts of despair

Angsomnia: when, due to angst, one cannot sleep.

I should have had a perfectly lovely evening. Before that, I should have had a perfectly lovely day. All of my problems were no more than minor irritations in actuality, logistical tangles to untie quickly and cleanly.

Why, then, do I only fumble them?

The dish I promised to make for tonight’s pot-luck supper has a time-intensive component: shredding 2 pounds of brussels sprouts by hand because we don’t yet own a food processor. I decided to buy all of the ingredients Thursday night so I could easily make the recipe Friday night, then send it to work with FunkyPlaid on Saturday morning so I didn’t have to carry it on the bus.

By the time Friday night cooking time rolled around, I wasn’t in the mood to cook. Cooking even straightforward recipes like this one is still a challenge for me, and my week had already been an 8 out of 10 on the “challenging” scale. (Note to self: do not plan on cooking to relax until cooking is relaxing.)

Long story medium: the brussels sprouts were wormy and unable to be salvaged, thus turning my Saturday into a car-less quest for brussels sprouts, which — as I realize I should have already known — aren’t in season anyway, so I have no business making the dish. (This last is difficult for me to internalize because I love the dish and it’s something I can do consistently well. Still, second note to self: cook seasonally.)

My Saturdays are strange creatures. I look forward to them throughout the week as if they are gold-plated unicorns of sheer delight. They are all mine, because FunkyPlaid is at work, so I have complete autonomy over them. That is in theory only, because when they roll around, I mull over completing any number of a hundred different things I think I should be doing with my time off, and I end up getting nothing done and feeling guilty for it.

A few times I have hit that lovely “I can do what I want and I want to do nothing” stride, but on most Saturdays my to-do list and I get into a stare-eyes contest and, despite it not actually having eyes, the list always wins.

Anyway, this Saturday I spent entirely on the brussels sprouts, up until the moment I hopped in the shower to get ready for the two-hour public transit adventure that is getting to the middle of Marin County. By the time I arrived, the brussels sprouts had taken on legendary status for me; I was merely a support system for the brussels sprouts, the imperfect vessel by which their greatness would be conveyed.

Okay, not really, but you get the idea. I had obsessed so much over how I considered this stupid side-dish to be inconveniencing me that I missed the entire point of cooking, or at least what I consider to be its point: to savor and share good food with good people.

Because I am me, I did not have a “silly me” moment. I had a full-on self-loathing “stupid, stupid me” moment. More like a collection of moments, organized into hours. It is hours later and I am still upset with myself. And then I say, “Why am I still upset with myself? That’s so stupid.”

… and we begin again.

This is the point at which a normal person says, “Hey! Snap out of it!” and I hear, “Hey! Stop being stupid!” I have no idea how to stop being stupid so I just sit there, wings flapping uselessly. Flap flap flap they go, and people wander off because watching sad little wingflaps is pointless and kind of pathetic and there is nothing more for them to do anyway.

So, third and final note to self: learn how to snap out of it. There are probably whole self-help books devoted entirely to learning how to snap out of it. I would be surprised if Oprah herself did not have a treatise on the snapping out. If only I knew of a place filled with books that I could browse for free!

Yes, I see my wings are still flapping. At least everyone ate all the brussels sprouts.