It was the buzz in my ear that vibrated my pupils. A phantom ringing of cicada tymbals singing. Every raindrop on the window a spyglass to the crushed gnats that had been swarming in the even-tempered air. When you get too comfortable in airy lukewarm pockets you’re destined to end up sprawled out beneath a stranger’s tire. I feel like a gnat these days. Caught up in a swarm of clashing bodies as they disembark a train. Wandering across a street and back again for the hell of it. Hovering next to decomposing spider lilies at the bus stop. The stench of lowering temperatures and premature darkness chase my thoughts into the Joro spider webs and vacant swallows nest of my apartment stairwell.

There’s a steep hill leading up to my 40 or so year-old apartment. Dusky shadows lurk in at 5 pm and I can see my balcony winking at me once I clear the overgrown bush. It’s an old place, but it’s mine. The view makes the ascent feel worth my time.  One night last week I unearthed the floor heater from the closet. To my surprise there wasn’t a smell of charred dust or insects as I turned it on. It’s almost like I just put it away. Inside the armoire in my spare room, all of my knitted sweaters smell musty in the armpits. They’ve also been peppered with a dull kiss of floral mist from the fabric spray I seasoned them with. They’re marinated with smells of an old season that I want to inhale a while longer.

Siri, what is X and Y chromosome?
Siri, what is X and Y chromosome?

I’ve begun sleeping with two duvets on top of me and I don’t even sweat in my sleep. Waking up in the dark is disorienting. I usually don’t remember my dreams. I only recall their essence, their over-arching theme, their influence on the body language of my sleeping position. Opening the curtains doesn’t wake me up like it did in June. Just a dimly lit, misty view of the Lego stacked homes in my neighborhood. I rely on a shower from my turquoise ice-cube shaped tub to jolt me awake. I crack open the window that I string the hose to my washer through and let the steam escape. As the hot water soaks my face and I close my eyes, sequences of images from my dream begin to play out:  

              I dream of stepping into a crowded supermarket and sensing the absence of my own hot breath ricocheting back in my face. “Dammit—I forgot a mask and now everyone is glaring.” I feel like my hiding place is exposed and that’s only one of the roles they have come to play for me. They’re a shield to disguise emotion. A covering to avoid the stares that come with looking different. A repellant from invisible malice and swarms of gnats in even-tempered air. A symbol of empathetic unification. A make-up removal wipe. Now even my subconscious depends on a mask to navigate dreams.

Motion Sick Sleep
Motion Sick Sleep

              I savor my morning routine. After I shower, I sit on my tatami with a towel draped over me and the floor heater pointed at my damp body. I’ve decided to take up a skin care routine for the first time in my life, so I go at it with some Vitamin C serum Vivien recommended and some various moisturizers I read control sebum production. I hate that word—sebum. It sounds like there’s little mermaid ass all over my face. Mayo Clinic says if you don’t use a moisturizer on your oily skin then your face will over-produce… ‘sebum’, so therefore it must be true.

by Samu Boyne

After that’s done I eat a bowl of this Calbee granola cereal I discovered I really like. I purposefully don’t fill the bowl all the way just so I have the pleasure of going back for seconds. In fact, seconds are one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s too much tragedy for 7 am to be mourning every last spoonful and missing your Calbee granola cereal while it’s still in your mouth. I sigh in relief that I get a second chance. It’s not over yet. And I know exactly how I want to eat the next bowl.

You see, this is choreography. An interpretive dance routine. A survival ritual to a Slowdive song. Every gesture, every mood, every tone alters itself as the temperature changes. I dance my dance inside a yellow-hued bubble. There’s a virus raging outside and I don’t hear it. I hear the ghostly ringing of cicada tymbals and swarms of gnats in even-tempered air. Sometimes I feel guilt, then I remember I’m just doing the best I can like everyone else is. 

Not much else seems to matter when I stand in front of a black board before 20 teenagers with chalk dust clouding my black slacks. The other day we were playing Pictionary and in the final round the class wanted my co-teacher and I to compete against each other. We were all laughing, all swimming in the buzzing vibrations in the room. The greatest evil, the heaviest stress, the iciest disappointment couldn’t pierce the aura of yellow hugging us. I didn’t know heartbreak because these young teens told me it didn’t exist. They told me with how earnestly they listened, how brave they were to make a mistake, how dedicated they were to make a connection with a perfect stranger. They had no idea what they were communicating—they just grinned and giggled under their masks.

buzzing is inspired by seasonal affective disorder. How it not only changes your mood, but how the change in seasons affects every day routine. How you’re annoyed to make subtle changes, but they act as a refresh button.  

Thank you for READING! Let me know how this made you FEEL! (Please 🙂 )

Alex

HELPLESS
HELPLESS

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