Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Facing the Music

I'm sure nobody ever does this, but you know how when you stuff the dryer so full of things that all seem to have large metal snaps or buttons? You know how it makes that semi-rhythmic clank, thump, bang, scratch noise? Not quite rhythmic enough to habituate to and tune out, but not quite distressing enough to actually go and do anything about it? Maybe it's just me. Major household appliances and I have very hesitant relationships. We're like the U.S. and China that way. We need each other, depend on each other, but never quite trust each other and find it culturally impossible to see from the other's point of view. I don't want to talk about dryers. Or Sino-American relations, really. That noise, though.

That noise is the closest approximation to what it sounds like most of the time inside my head. There is always a sort of clanking and thumping going on. Sometimes I can go about my business and let it just bang and shudder away in the background and ignore it until the cycle is finished and that loud BUUUUZZZZZZ! echoes all around and lets me know it's time to go write down what I was thinking about or to take care of a certain piece of business, or actively claim a decision I've been working on.

Just like the dryer, I try not to set it to work right before bed, or when it might be left untended and inadvertently set things on fire. I clean out the lint trap according to the manufacturer's instructions.  I try to be as efficient as possible in my use of energy and air dry as much as possible. Sometimes, though, whew. Some days it's just a little too loud. Some days it just thumps and clangs and jumps and seems to never stop. I start to wonder if the heating element is gone and it will never stop. Maybe it has thrown a belt or something. Maybe (and this is the nightmare) it will need to be replaced. Those days I finally throw the door open to make it stop and walk away, but then inevitably I just end up with a pile of damp, mildewy jeans.

I was thinking of this clank-thump-bang phenomenon today as I puttered around my quiet house. It was quiet on the outside anyway, but that Maytag of the mind was working hard to dry what sounded like a load of soggy pygmy goats. I was dreaming up tiny mutton recipes when it hit me. Music. Since we've moved, I haven't set up my stereo. Mostly because it's about ten years old and only half works and we've been discussing replacing it for about five years. I usually attach my iPod to a set of tiny speakers and put them where ever I am, but the speakers met an untimely death involving a Hooligan and a rocking chair and a potty emergency. I don't wear headphones when the kids are home with just me because well, because. The long and the short and the baaa-baaa clank of it is that I have been puttering without music.

Without my friends that live in the speakers who sing and growl and scream and strum and thump their drums or yodel or whatever I feel like listening to, I am stuck with the clamor of my overheated dryer brain stuffed with gravel. When I went to pick up my jBird from her guitar lesson feeling hot and frazzled and unable to express coherent thought, I was met at the door by a wall of sound. Beethoven's 5th on vinyl, blasted through really good speakers. I very nearly wept. It was better than a massage, better than a long nap or a haircut.

It's time for me to face the music. I can't change the way this clunker of a mind works. I can't change this clanking, thumping brain of mine. I can work to use it as efficiently as possible, acknowledge its quirks, take care of it and perform routine maintenance, but I can't trade it in for a new model, and I can't waste a lot of time and energy wishing it were different. It's as inevitable as laundry, it will drive me nuts from time to time. What the guitar teacher and Beethoven reminded me of this week, though, is that I can do like I do on laundry day: turn the music loud and power through the work that needs to be done. 


  1. I am reminded that I sometimes wish that, like my laundry, my brain could be kept outside.

  2. But if the clunking and banging result in such fabulously funny stories where you liken your brain to an appliance then hey, let it clunck once in a while (very selfish I know but I love the cluncking!)

  3. I think this: a load of soggy pygmy goats. I was dreaming up tiny mutton recipes ...

    might be why I love you.


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