Sensory weekend – 4-5 June 2016

lights-hallucinLast weekend was an interesting one, sensory-speaking.

First, it was wet. Muggy. Not really hot, but humid. So everything stuck to me. My clothes, things I brushed against, and all those spiderwebs that suddenly appear each summer when the bugs become plentiful enough to feed the thousands of tiny spiders… which eventually become large spiders by the end of the summer.

It seemed like I couldn’t walk through any doorway in my house, without feeling the fine, sticky tendrils of a spiderweb on my face or arms. The lightest of touch, the most tenacious of sensations. The kind of cloying feeling that stays with you, even after you swipe the fine filaments from your skin.

It was an extraordinarily sensory weekend. Every one of the fine hairs on my face felt like it was tuned like cat whiskers, picking up on the slightest motion of air around me. We had fans running in most of the rooms, so walking between them meant crossing several different currents of air going in conflicting directions. Swirls of invisible motion meeting and joining, stirring up the space around me in eddies and currents, sending conflicting messages to the body that’s carrying me through that space.

In one room, the air flows low, in one direction. In another, it’s flowing higher, and it’s in a slightly different direction. Not at a 90-degree angle, mind you. That would be too simple. No, it’s oblique. And curved. And variable, as the fan speed surges with the house electricity. And my body reacted to each change of air, each diversion of current, trying to find a way to orient, to find its balance, to not be distracted and pulled off-course by the mixed messages of these competing air streams.

I was tired. And when I’m tired, I’m even more sensitive than usual — which is more than the average bear, on my best day. Sensory amplification. Sights, sounds, touch, all more intense. Smell and taste not so much. But Sights.



A bright flash of a bird at the bird feeder, and my attention was broken, while trying to fix my coffee. I lose my focus. Brown paper cone filter won’t cooperate. Try folding the coffee filter again. Try setting it in the cone again. There. That’s good. Don’t look at the bird feeder.

Sun glinting over the hill, rays of sunrise filtering through the wind-tossed leaves. A bright flash here and there – bright. flash. Just pour the boiling water over the coffee grounds, and think about that for a moment. Never mind the flash. Look at the stove.

Bird songs – chattering, peeping, calling – the neighbor’s cat must be in the back yard again, because the chipmunks are going berzerk with their high-pitched whistles. The distant rumble of the furnace turning on… the surge of electricity causing fans to speed up and slow down. Cars whizzing by out front, every now and then, in a hurry to some weekend event. And the dull whine of tinnitus.

All in a weekend morning. The usual. But much worse, this past weekend.

Keeping my thoughts ordered in the midst of the continuous interruption… well, that’s always interesting. A slight breeze can brush across my forearm, stirring the hairs and distracting me as I walk. Ouch – I bump into the corner of the kitchen counter, and a sharp pain shoots through my hip. In an instant, the pain is gone, and I keep moving. That will probably leave a bruise, but I’ve got to get my Saturday chores done.

Emptying the dish drainer pierces my ears with the clanking of plates and cups against each other. Hot. It feels hot, that sound. Like a red poker jabbing at my eardrums. I steel myself and keep moving plates and cups into the cupboards around me, silverware clanks in the drawer. Clank.  Clank. Ouch. I think to myself that plasticware would be better, but even the sound of plastic on plastic hurts my ears.

Errands. Chores. Taking the trash down to the transfer station. Luckily, my sense of smell wasn’t too strong. The trash stank. My partner told me so. I took her word for it, and loaded the bags and the recycling into the back of my SUV, and made the drive to the dump with as much haste as possible. Sunglasses on. Sun visors down. Sunroof closed and covered. No tolerance for bright sun.

And all the while, the sticky humidity pressing my clothing against my body.

The transfer station was packed. Busy. People milling about, talking about local and national politics. Commiserating. Complaining. In my way. Hard to move around them, hard to navigate. Bright, bright sun overhead, dust in the air, noise and shiny, shiny things catching my eye from all sides. Glass and plastic and metal sticking out of collection bins. And the feel of the dust drawn to my humid skin, a fine film of grit that made it harder for me to feel where I was in space, where I was going, how I was going to get there. What I was doing.

What was I doing?

And I left the transfer station with two bags of recyclables still on my back seat. Forgotten in the rush to just get out of there.

Tired. I tried to sleep. Put on the air conditioner and lay under a sheet that started out cool, then got hot.  I heat up when I’m tired. I was tired. So, I heated up. A lot.

Woke up in a sweat — both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Humid. Sticky. Sensory.

It was a particularly sensory weekend.



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