Off Day

Dairena Ní Chinnéide

Radiohead give me the karma police in my brain. Thunder-foam lashes the day’s rocks on a headland that is upside down with refracted meaning. Storm inclines inward in howls. Rubbish shoots like fake bunnies on the track between not so social housing. A mean day. I am the sound the wind makes, angry and sad and lost and losing my temper in the lost and never found compartment of futile exercises. Hell is a cold council house where there is no happiness. Heaven is central heating. I don’t have that. My solid fuel has converted itself to emotional mulch and paranoia pours out over the pot I simmer to declare indifference. Treachery lurks in the clouds I know to be a depressing omnipotent grey, through semi-opaque window blinds I leave eternally drawn. My mood is off.

Nights of disturbed non-sleep. Vignettes of dreams project in a short subconscious fringe festival no one is watching except me. I don’t understand these films. Not really. I am both main actor and crowd, a voyeur of my own desperate darkness. They prescribe pills, but that anarchist in my chemical makeup defiantly refuses to step back and let them do their thing. My brain like an overdriven head gasket that blows and blast-guns any hope of steady throttle in all those hours of darkness. It isn’t always thus, but right now, like for days and days it’s just me being the cuckoo on the clock, making a center stage appearance on the hour on the half hour, waking me from respite. It’s exhausting. Sixty minutes in my dark head is like a lifetime. I am utterly alive at every wakeup call that crazy cuckoo pecks me awake with. Nerves fray. I feel unhappy. Restless. Afraid.

When one is having an off day, the feeling is akin to being wasted. The fluffy, shifting shape in and out of disgusting reality. Who wants reality? I strum my imaginary guitar and become the lead singer of songs that shook my soul, all alone and wanting it that way. I am too irksome for people today. I’d only be critical and picky and catty or too talkative and dramatic and overpowering. Never the bloody middle ground with me. So other people’s melodies carry me along with the dark day outside. It doesn’t feel much different to the night. Just the expectation of having to answer a phone and even in polite exchanges I manage to cause damage. I am projecting sharp, sore, nails at the world, coz inside I’m hurting.

My embedded she wolf has been bitten by the daily challenge of existence. I am howling soundlessly. Years have taught me no one wants to hear the cries of a wounded animal. It’s best to put them out of their misery. I ponder the mercy of making the human variety writhe in translucent pain—to carry the proverbial cross whilst simultaneously nailing oneself to it, to prove the multitasking facility of being a once functioning and sometimes brilliant person. No, it’s defiantly more humane to kick back, wrapped in a warm blanket, woolly socks, several layers of warm jumpers and hoodies, plugged into music that reflects a pixilated state of mind, very loud, but curiously quiet.

Soothed, I relish this hidden day where I am wandering down side roads of memory. Drifting around my damaged state, feeling the safety of being alone. Fashioning a cage from my fragility. But the bars are made of sugary substances I can melt with my mind like a spell caster, whirly gigging in secret.

Convention just sounds like a really silly word. Having heating systems on my mind I think of convection and distribution, but am clear in the knowledge that none of that has the remotest connection to the way I really think. Massive Attack is my aural yoga now, my sun salutation, lifting my spirit in a really cool and kind of mysteriously surreal way. My pose is peculiar and it turns raindrops into crystals kissing my bedroom windowpane. The tragedy of the day becomes external. Wasted now I seem not to care as much about the anger of the storm. I see beauty in the words it blows around my purring brain. This part of my day becomes an act of defiance. A meditation on being. Then later, pampered with an abstract kind of hue, I will become domestic. I will light a fire. I will cook dinner. I will will the hours and dart through another night, tired but alive and ready to be surprised by an emotional change of direction. Wandering happily, like a nymph in a Dr. Who telephone box towards some kind of happy equilibrium.

Dairena Ní Chinnéide is a writer of prose, poetry and television scripts living in Ireland. Amongst her five published poetry collections are the bilingual An Trodaí & Dánta Eile / The Warrior & Other Poems and Máthair an Fhiaigh / The Raven’s Mother (Cló Iar Chonnachta). She is also a literary translator and is currently translating a selection of the prose and poetry of Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva.