Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Recording the Tremors of a Mind on the Outs With Itself

Staccato coughing. The two words play together on repeat in my head while I'm staring blankly at six huge TV monitors mounted on the wall above my head. Breaking news another shooting a political talking head a weather forecaster a commercial another talking head. One, big media vomit of news/opinion/information/advertisement, it's all the same thing anymore.

I like the sound of the words staccato coughing smooshed up against each other like tired lovers on a late night subway home. Staccatocoughing. The actual sound of staccato coughing isn't nearly as pleasing. Someone is sick, poor thing. Sounds like she's on an upswing, though. A dry cough, I think they call it. Much less auditorily offensive than the sad sack who spent the bulk of last week murdering the genteel hum that is the norm on the operations floor of the building in which I work. Spackling his cubicle with bits of lung, sounded like, everyone within range cringing shoulders-to-ears each time he commenced to whooping it up, which was considerably often. Phlegm rattling/choking/gagging - the whole goddamn nine.

I stare at the TVs without seeing them, listen to the restrained throat clearing of today's politer cougher and wonder again if I've temporarily misplaced my self-respect or if it's just that I've finally been stripped of the delusion that I like myself. Didion said as much in an essay she wrote once about self-respect:

"Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. Although now, some years later, I marvel that a mind on the outs with itself should have nonetheless made painstaking record of its every tremor. I recall with embarrassing clarity the flavor of those particular ashes. It was a matter of misplaced self-respect."

Here I am, recording the tremors of a mind on the outs with itself. Although I disagree with Didion on one point; I don't think innocence is lost when you realize you no longer like yourself, I think it's discovering your parents might not like you. Parental apathy, more common than outright parental dislike, is pretty awful too. There's this man I know who pretends to be apathetic about his father's apathy. It's heartbreaking. Fuck that dad. He missed out on a beautiful human being. But yeah. Parental dislike or disinterest is the end of innocence, Didion, not run-of-the-mill self-dislike.

A record of tremors of a mind on the outs with itself. That's this entire website. I am filled with jealousy and mean and sad and guilt and selfish and self-pity and scared and confusion and horrible thoughts about people while experiencing uncomfortable pings of glad when negative things happen to those for whom I harbor ill will. I am an ill will harborer. A safe haven for ill will. No wonder my mind is in revolt.