September 25, 2000
I Can Hear Music/Aspirin & Art Cars


At first it was like hearing windchimes in my head.

Twinkly little quarter-notes of pain, rippling delicately up and down inside my head, as David and I walked around Jack London Square looking at Art Cars.

I wasn't paying a lot of attention at that point. I thought maybe it was just too much Saturday morning sunshine. I'm as photosensitive as a fudking mushroom, basically: Ray-Bans (and caves) were invented for people like me. So I simply ducked into the shade and continued taking pictures of David.

David standing next to cars festooned with Barbie doll heads and lawn flamingos. David standing next to cars shaped like bananas and guitars and giant Radio Flyers. David standing next to cars dressed the same way *he* was. (At an Art Car exhibition, Ю僱êrvØ¡ blends right into the crowd  ...  AND into the scenery.)

DRaftervoi ~ Art Car Show 2000

When we stopped at a nearby Mexican restaurant for lunch, the pain was beginning to remind me more of a busy violin solo. "Flight of the Bumblebee," maybe. 

"I think I have a headache," I told David. 

I still wasn't overly concerned: I figured that a little food and a little quiet conversation, in a cool dark restaurant, would beat it back.

Emerging from the restaurant after lunch, the pain had receded a bit. Distant tom-tom drums, maybe. But fifteen minutes (and 43,897,621 more Art Cars) later, and suddenly it was a fifth- and sixth-grade orchestra lurching tunelessly through "Arapahoe Warrior" for the eleventh time.

By the time we were heading east on 24 to David's parents' house, an hour or so later, it was the entire goddamned NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC performing the 1812 Overture inside my skull.

Complete with cannons.

I don't get headaches, as a general rule.

I tend to carry my tension much lower: shoulders, neck, lower back, digestive system, feet. Even during the height of the cheap chablis days, headaches weren't a regular part of my Hangover Routine, unless I'd overindulged in alcohol with a lot of sugar in it, the night before: champagne, for instance, or Kahlua, or non-cheap chablis.

(Or Nyquil, on the rocks.)

These days, if I've had a particularly noxious day at the Totem Pole Company (read this: if Franz was in the office/near the office/within a 24,000 mile radius of the office), I am more likely to come home with a pain in the neck than a pain in the head.

On Saturday, like I said, I assumed that too much sun was making my head ache. Or too little sleep, maybe. Or too much life in general. Last week was especially brutal, as you could probably tell by my dark, cranky journal entries. (I'm sorry about that. Please start writing to me again: I won't bite.) I thought, maybe I just hadn't released all of those *emotional toxin molecules* yet, and it was manifesting itself in the form of a migraine. Or maybe I was tense about driving out to David's parents' house for a family get-together, later that afternoon. Or maybe it was hormone-related ... or maybe I had a little bit of a virus happening ... or maybe some allergy-related stuff going on ... or maybe it was the beginnings of a brain tumor.

Or maybe I just had a headache.

It was early evening before we got back to Alameda on Saturday.

The drive home just about killed me ... driving west from Walnut Creek in pokey freeway traffic, directly into the sun, for almost an hour. I  wore two pairs of sunglasses and kept my head in David's lap for most of the ride.

(Interpret that as you will.)

Nothing had put a dent in it: not Aleve, not Tylenol, not sinus meds, not Pamprin ... not even a twenty-minute snooze in the Subaru, as we drove to Walnut Creek. It was the most excruciating headache of my life.

The visit with David's family had been relatively painless ... or it would have been painless, if it hadn't felt as though someone were attempting to extract my brain through my ears with a pair of barbecue tongs. Mostly I just sat there next to David in Mr. and Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡'s tasteful living room, smiling vacantly and nodding once in a while. I think I said ten words, altogether. (I'm sure by this point they're beginning to think I was dropped repeatedly on my head as an infant, but there wasn't much I could do to raise my Q-rating with them just then.)

Once we got home, I tucked my pitiful, pathetic butt into bed. But first I took two aspirin.

I always resist aspirin. I don't know why. I think aspirin just seems too obvious, somehow, too simple. Aspirin was what Grandma gave us when we were little. Aspirin isn't groovy. Aspirin is a cliché.

But aspirin did the trick.

Sunday morning I woke up ... and the little guys in the orchestra pit had packed up their instruments and gone home. I could still hear them in the distance -- like a radio playing quietly in the apartment four doors down the hall -- but they weren't playing just for me, anymore. I continued taking half-doses of aspirin all day Sunday. I kept the apartment dark and quiet all day. While David was off taking care of family obligations, I read and napped and wrote a tiny bit of e-mail and napped some more. By the end of the day, I was pain-free.

Mostly I just felt ... limp. And empty. And weirdly cleansed, like some sort of huge exotic tropical storm had blown through my psyche.

The feeling persists today, as I head into another Hell Week with Franz. It's too soon to tell if this week is going to be the same kind of nightmare last week was ... but I'm packing aspirin. And earplugs.

Just in case.

Secra ~ Art Car Show 2000

two years ago: take me out to the ballpark
[just don't make me eat one]
one year ago: the ex-girlfriend

throw a rock