bunt sign

Monday, July 31, 2000

How do cats, who seem to hear every sound and notice every movement, manage to sleep all day? Because I feel like a cat, except for the sleeping part.

Every sound I hear makes my ears prick up and my heart start racing. It's especially true when I'm already dragging from another all-night open-eyed twitch-and-fidget fest. But the continuing barrage of noise has worn me down to a single frayed nerve, ready to jolt me into hyperawareness at the least provocation.

Even though the noise is coming from the other side of the wall, I blame myself for my overreaction to it. My neighbors are not doing anything wrong, most of the time. Just because I can hear it doesn't always mean it's too loud. I've just worked myself up into a state where I'm no longer able to block out the incidental sounds of someone else's everyday life.

These people were so quiet all day Sunday that I soaked up the silence, spending the day lounging around, reading and writing. It was such a relief. It's actually why I moved to the country, for these serene Sundays when I can be alone with my own thoughts. My neighbors were home, but their voices alone never bother me. For once their TV was off, and the wall didn't vibrate.

Then, about 12:30 in the morning, as I was getting ready to go to bed, all I could hear was the hum from their speakers. So instead of retiring, or fighting back, I put on my headphones and watched some mindless TV myself. At two, they were still at it, but I couldn't stay up any longer.

At three I was still awake, trapped in my own skin, which seemed to crackle with an electric current. Nothing I did could relax my mind or body. I felt like bacon in a hot skillet, shriveling and shrinking and curling into a crispy, misshapen little ball.

Well, that's how I felt.

I was not ready for the alarm to go off this morning, even though I was already awake. I squirmed around for another half hour before realizing that getting up couldn't make things any worse. I stumbled through the morning at half speed, plodding my way down my to-do list.

It never really got any better, but I did enough work to meet my own modest standards. One thing I'm not going to lose sleep over is the quantity (or quality) of work I got done today.

One of the pleasures of the stage version of The Wizard of Oz that I saw Friday night was that there were really two simultaneous performances of the same play going on. We were fortunate enough to be sitting close to the stage on the left aisle, near where the play was being enacted by a sign language interpreter named Tadd Cohen. His expressive hands and face added some emotional depth to the show. He was there for the benefit of the hearing impaired members of the audience, and the performance on stage was certainly worthy of the full attention of the rest of us, but I couldn't resist sneaking a peak every so often. His signing of "Over the Rainbow" was itself a work of art.

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