All week a crew of 10 painters have been crawling over our apartment building and decks, starting at 7 a.m. They are a rowdy and happy bunch, singing and joking en espanol, whistling, wisecracking, laughing and shouting directions back and forth. They also have three boomboxes all tuned to the same Spanish station, so mariachi music echoes in stereo from the top, bottom and back of the apartment. They sing along.
Eight hours a day. My prime working time.
They covered all the windows with plastic, which gave me a horrible case of claustrophobia. I've become irrationally, passionately attached to looking out at the sweep of the harbor every day while working. Without it, I cower at my MacBook on the table in the odd milky light, sweating. Without the view, this feels like little more than an overpriced, humid cage. I begin to doubt myself and everything I stand for. I have nothing to say. I'm empty and insignificant.
And then... more mariachi music.
How can anybody be so CHEERFUL?
Isn't this a violation of the Geneva Convention?
I reach my limit at 3 p.m. when there's only an hour to go. The same time of day Hemingway nailed in Death in the Afternoon. Yesterday at that sickly bright hour, I found myself doing upper body dancing on my desk chair to accordion music.
I'm a puppet, trapped in a South of the Border Clockwork Orange (That's La Naranja Mecanica to you, Pancho) doing a mindless tarantela. I think the fumes are kicking in.
By the time they leave, I'm limp and the silence is insidious. I turn on CNN but can't stand anybody's nasal whine, even with Wolf Blitzer off for the day. I'm so shook up I wonder if Fox News would sound better. I scan HBO: finally! a rerun of Curb Your Enthusiasm is the only thing I can stand; Larry David trying to avoid giving Richard Lewis a kidney. Now THAT'S television. Phew...
Later I'll sit in a stupor and watch the tiny gymnasts fall off the barre and a huge Belgian volleyball player get "killed" repeatedly by Kerri and Misty. Will the beach volleyball never end? The swimmers in their laser suits, menacing goggles, thick necks and enormous shoulders look like monsters.
This insanity may possibly find its way into the syllabi I am intensely crafting. Maybe this will be my weirdest set of class preps ever. If I hear that one guy's maniacal laugh one more time, I swear I'll scream.
For the record, the apartment is looking very nice.
The soft or shrill voice within us
7 years ago