It’s been 3 hours since lunch – a “delicious”, “indulgent” lean cuisine pizza roughly the size of an english muffin that conquered two plastic knives, a powerade bottle full of water, and eight generic ibuprofen from the medicine cabinet humanely stocked in the kitchen – and the pounding on the brain is still contemptuously persistent.

Standing at the urinal, all finished but still there, foreahead against the cool white tile walls. Finally mustering the strength to step away, and then cringing at how loud a zipper is!

Draped loosely into a stubborn, unforgiving office chair, a bargain model from office depot designed for light home use or ambulatory workers made rigid, unconforming, jaded … and squeaky by years of 24/7 occupation, neck wrenched forward to accomodate the ice pack that mercifully numbs a six inch radius around the upper 3 vertebrae.

Stumbling from one side of the room to the other, down the hall, to the bathroom, to the sink, back to the chair… tripping over invisible obstacles, extra-dense pockets of air, the patterned rises in the low-pile carpet.

Taking aim loosely, clumsily with the faucet, water spilling onto forearms as the flowing water’s whine deafens and disables functional thought.

A feeble reach to the ringing telephone, eardrums torn apart by the evil, shrieking banshee who has made her home inside the doldrum plastic casing and has cast a spell on the device to shift it further away with each renewed effort to extend three fingers toward the handset and thereby interrupt her dreadful siren.

Abandoned by a natural instinct for over-punctuation, communications become confusing, verbose, circling and full of the errors that come from typing with closed eyes. But oh, how good it feels to close them!

Conversations with people – such unnecessarily loud people – that are less an exercise in understanding or common ideas and more a battle of wits between one person who desperately wants the conversation to end, to drop the handset lifelessly to the floor, to cast the vociferous device out a nearby window – only there are none nearby, and even the distant ones do not open – and another person who has know idea such a battle has been waged and chats along merrily in a teatime manner.

The white noise – persistent, pervading, inescapable… the movement of air; the imperceptible-until-amalgamated sound of electrons moving through paths and gates and switches; the high-pitched hum of a television tube – even tho it has no tube, and is turned off; the droning of the building powerplant, its reverberations carried by the very walls that should isolate and protect from the noise outside and below; the quiet hiss of speakers through which no signal travels and so which recursively amplify only the sound of their own amplifiers… the sum of them all, relentless and exigent, crushing in from every side, pressurizing one’s head like the deep ocean on a diver’s skull, with no hiding place, no reprieve, and no sensible recourse but a pair of hands clamped tightly over ears and a doddering mental effort to cling tightly to a dangling thread of sanity.

Man, my head hurts.