A habit I have had for as long as I can remember; digging inside my ears with twigs, molding paper into a cone, reshaping the paper clip, any object deemed safe at the time – removing wax, satisfying an itch, nervous energy. Pencils, pens, nails, a blade of grass, the same purpose; each having a different feel; each serving the same purposes. Watching others winch, putting the instrument of comfort aside; sneaking, secreting, soothing, turning away when detecting, those interfering in my quest, attention wane. In middle school, the point on the pencil broke. I think it broke. The point was no longer there, sitting there trying to remember whether there was a point, telling myself there wasn’t a point. Touching the side of my ear, feeling something, something I didn’t remember being there. It is said we discover our bodies at that age, let’s say I was no different than any other child.
My definition of a habit is “an act done habitually.” Regularly, conducted at no particular time, schedule. Mine cued by no setting, mood, act of others. Digging while others talked; to satiate a non-existence itch; exploring around the ear canal, directing attention elsewhere; feeling the non-existent itch.
The same as those who place objects in their mouths, outside other’s knowledge, directing energy elsewhere, supporting the habit, much like supporting any other habit. Dare say a habit safer than alcohol, narcotics, jaywalking in Mexico City – See the cars – count – count- count … on two … go, go, go … run – run – run!
Digging deep, twirling, pushing as close as possible to the ear drum – clinching the muscles around the mouth, tightening, muting sound, so as not to bellow like a hound, preserving a tradition, a persistent, long-held habit.
Straws, keys, the point of a small screwdrivers inserted over, “Don’t do that!”
Knowing what he/she/they were screaming about. Hearing, not hearing, knowing, absolutely, having seen that face before. Knowing I shouldn’t do what I was doing; still doing it, a habit. I did.
Never confessing about the lodged pencil lead; telling no one. Couldn’t be that bad, could it? Passing physicals, not as if I took many, never hearing a complaint about wax in my ears, or any strange object; moving forward, nodding, thanking the health care provider, reaching out and securing the papers handed to me, moving out of the line.
“Ears look good.”
“Yep, I’m sure.”
“Thank you … .”
“Give this paper to the school.”
“Okay, thank you.”
Tiring of the irritant, making one more attempt. Dislodging the point three/four years later; dislodging with the point of another pencil; lifting the tip, recognizing immediately the central nervous system was intact, radiating pain, filling the cranial cavity, sending a message to hands, feet, a synchronized pain, extending them, separating them, as if shocked. Struggling to remember the anatomical chart for the head; seeing images instead, consequences of pushing too hard, piercing the brain, forever dumbed-down.
Can I say … no harm, no foul? Of course I can. Of course, I will. I do. I do.
Lifting, rolling, winching, stopping, working up additional nerve, waiting for the pain to dissipate; touching the lodged object again, lifting, rolling in the opposite direction, taking a deep breath; stopping, putting the right hand over the right hear, realizing sound still carried in the left ear channel, taking a break – I did. I did until I succeeded, removing the gift I gifted to myself years before.
I had tried oil on past attempts; water at other times – to no avail – the object of my attention remaining secured and secreted in the recesses. The success – that time – came after the third attempt. Refusing to quit, desiring comfort on both sides, digging, twirling, pushing a little deeper until I succeeded.
On today’s date (January 20, 2017), I dislodged an eraser. A rattle at first; forward, backward, seeming to disappear, causing renewed memory, , rebirth, and wonderment, “What on earth?” A journey down the familiar; this time caused by shaking too hard, while listening during the inaugural. The same shake I heard my elders exercise when hearing foolishness.
A … “My, my, my” … shake.
A, “Bless your heart” … shake.
A, “You’re kidding me, right” … shake.
Incredulity, disbelief, hostile words scrolling out before my eyes, invading in another mode and manner, entering both ear canals, touching the left first, the right, the uncoordinated shake followed. Like a dog, with a tic lodged in the inner ear canal, engaging immediately in distressed behavior.
Too many unexpected/expected words, a rapid invasion, pushing the foreign, forgotten object backward, forward, in the other direction again, compelling the unanticipated reaction; shaking violently came first, words of damnation followed. Listening, shaking rapidly, tilting leftward when the movement was felt, extending both hands, capturing a pink eraser. Now darkened, ossified, retaining its’ identified molded form.
When it occurred? – I don’t know. How it occurred? – That’s obvious! Every now and then there was a dull spot in the ear, causing another habit – the lifting of my left paw, scratching the unknown irritant, dislodging from thought the reason, justifying the self-inflicted tic’s presence.
Listening to the speaker push the envelope, pleasing his base, encouraging hate, dividing, doing what he said he would do. Wondering why I was shocked. Admitting the source of my anguish after the election, grinding my teeth during sleep, writing and tearing the mythical paper into pieces at the same time, awakening; arguing with the imaginary, questioning whether I was being unreasonable, irrational. I didn’t think so. I hoped that I am not – being irrational.
Why do I muse? Not because of the eraser, not because of my historical, disturbing habit; digging to make the heart content.
I muse to say what I learned. Say something nice sometimes, even to those who wish your demise. That’s it – that’s my dose of niceness, the contribution to civility. Words of carnage, dislodging another foreign object, showing the nightmare is real.