September 28, 2020:

Box of voices. It started early.

I'm in fourth grade trying to write an encyclopedia report on Egypt but I can't hear myself think, because my thinkings are overpowering my thoughts. In sixth grade the teacher is droning and I want to shout, Shut up shut up shut up!. At him or myself isn't clear.

I'm middle school i've given up and continually, habitually interrupt. Usually with jokes. I keep the classrooms laughing so hard no-one can concentrate. Good: we're all at the same level.

Drugs help. Amphetamine. I feel more calm, but if I mix with alcohol I'm off the rails out of control, talking, interrupting, cutting in line, joking, fidgeting.

The habit which drives my mother off her nut is drumming with pencils. I want to drum so bad, but a kit is verboten: Thou shalt not make noise! So I drum with pairs of pencils, unsharpened, eraser ends exposed, with military grip, using table tops and water glasses and books and my pencil case as practice pads. I'm not Karen Carpenter, I'm Buddy Rich and the joint is rockin'.

Always the voices. They're my voice, it's not Apollo dictating like Delphi or God booming about stone tablets. It's me, following overlapping but distinct trains of thought, anyway distinct if I can focus on them long enough, which usually I don't. Usually I ignore them.

By high school I'm focusing more often on the songs playing simultaneously in my head radio. I'm writing songs — lots of songs — mostly in my head, some of which are good. I'll later record a few. Friends like them. In my head I hear them with my own voice singing.

As I write this today I'm sixty-two. It's all still there. If I focus enough to untangle I can hear my grocery list, some song lyrics, the next sentences of this piece, a reminder to check the propane tank, to set my alarm for the morning, ideas about Jacques Lacan and Oscar Wilde, conversations with friends on replay. Mostly it's a wash of tangled voices, my own voice, following multiple chains of associations which probably lead somewhere, but, I suppose, might not.