Last night I noticed that I couldn't hear out of my left ear. My first guess (aside from that disturbing scene from Mountains of the Moon) was that it was full of earwax. I tried several solutions to unclog my ear, including banging my head against the wall. No effect. The stubborn thing remained blocked.

This morning when I awoke I noticed some interesting things that a blocked ear does to your mind. The most obvious is that you feel off-balance and you can't hear very well. There are more insidious things, though. You talk quietly, and you can't hear people as well, which means that you miss subtle nuances in conversation. Did she not hear me, or did she hear me and decide not to answer? Did she mumble a quiet reply that I didn't hear?

On my way to work there were crowds of children playing, laughing, and generally making a lot of noise. At least, that's what I thought they were doing. The whole scene was very reminiscent of movies I have seen where everything slows down and gets quieter, right before something terrible happens. Everything was bland, soft, muted, like a thick snow had fallen the night before. Even colors seemed faded and washed out. People would talk to me but I didn't really hear them. I handed the clerk three bucks out of habit and took my sandwich without even listening to her. I may as well have been watching TV with the volume turned down.

I started thinking: this must be what it's like to be deaf in one ear. But no, if my ear was deaf, I'd hear nothing. Instead, when I talked, it was the loudest thing in the world. I was practically shouting inside my head, and people still had to ask me to speak up. The only input that my left ear is currently getting comes from within me. I can hear every breath with painful keenness. When I took a shower this morning each drop of water was like the beating of a drum, or more accurately, rain falling on plastic with a dull, thudding sound. Brushing my teeth with my Sonicare filled up my whole head with the non-music of the one note it plays as its bristles vibrate along unrelenting. I feel like I'm wearing a space helmet. Huston, I have a problem.

I don't know how to feel or how to act. My sense of social etiquette is numbed, my senses are dulled, my balance is off (I'm lucky I didn't fall off my bike on the way to work), and my head is sitting under a magnifying glass. Everything I say seems wrong, and people react to me as if one of us has said something inappropriate. I hope I don't have to talk to anyone else today. I just want to go back to sleep. I just want to curl up and read. I don't want to deal with the world today, with all its strange and alienating occurrences. All because I have a little wax in my ear. What a crybaby.