The Touch, the Feel of Whining—the Fabric of Our Lives

My favorite movie soundtrack is from City of Angels, with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage. I saw it in college with friends. The movie is lovely, especially in college, but the soundtrack is killer: U2, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Sara McLachlan.

I imagine some of my favorites, in a recording studio, wearing comfy Saturday-morning clothes—a flannel, a fitted t-shirt, sweats—laying down the tracks to my life. There they are: Natalie Merchant, Plumb, U2, Mumford & Sons, putting in coffee orders, getting the cut in one or two sweet takes.

They’re elevating the mundane, making it soulful, mystical, purposeful.

Sometimes I steal away to my home office, sitting at my beautiful yellow desk next to the diaper changing table and across from the crib, and I watch Pandora’s little white circle go round and round, wondering why my latest computer update has stolen the music site’s ability to let me float away.

Probably it has just given up, because it knows the soundtrack to my life is whining. Constant whining. With some occasional Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus audiobook for variety.

Baby Woww is three. At three, children stay healthy and balanced through the sound vibrations produced by whining. It must take a lot of energy to keep it up. When Baby Woww is done, which is not often, K-Pants starts. It makes it very hard to enjoy them. When K-Pants is doing hilarious, creative stuff, Baby Woww is in the background, serenading us. I want milk. Where is my milk? Get my milk now. Aaaahhhhhh! Now. I want my milk! [Toddler arms crossed, in a huff, then arms out, reaching for crayons to throw on the floor.]

You might think, Have you tried not responding to the whining? Have you tried giving him positive redirection? Have you tried modeling regular speech? Have you tried…?

And I would say, Meet me where I am, man. I’ve tried it all.

The whining is taking over my life and breaking my brain down into those frozen digital picture squares made by a scratched DVD. Things that seem easy are attempted in fits and starts between gasps of whining, and are generally left undone. Simple things, that, when done, give people the impression that I’m a socially acceptable human being (sending a text message, putting on pants…).

So I just want to say: Please don’t be offended if I don’t get back to you for a year-and-a-half, which is when, based on experience, I predict the whining-to-speech ratio will return to marginally acceptable levels for an hour or two at a time.

In the meantime, if you want to see if I’m alive, just text me something like the following:

Yes.

J

These Are the Days

Please don’t respond.

These kinds of messages are generally able to navigate the broken, moving blocks of my mind. You may even receive a string of punctuation in response.

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